Last night, the New York Times reported that Paula White, the informal “spiritual adviser” to Donald Trump, had taken an official role within the administration.
Ms. White will work in the Office of Public Liaison, the official said, which is the division of the White House overseeing outreach to groups and coalitions organizing key parts of the president’s base. Her role will be to advise the administration’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Mr. Trump established last year by executive order and which aims to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs devoted to issues like defending religious liberty and fighting poverty.
For a Christian televangelist like White, that job description almost seems like a step down. At least in terms of visibility. Like most preachers who love the camera, taking a mostly behind-the-scenes role doing pretty much all the same things you were doing earlier doesn’t strike me as something she was just itching to do. It’s possible Trump just wanted to elevate her even more, just to remind white evangelicals that he’ll do anything for them even as he hurts damn near every other group in the country.
Remember: Even without the actual title, White has spent the past few years saying some states believe the Bible is “hate speech,” that she had blessed the White House with “the superior blood of Jesus,” that church members should vote Republican, and that opposing the president means opposing God.
If anything, the formal role might prevent her from being completely partisan. (Like Tony Perkins, another well-known conservative Christian who’s now part of the Trump administration, it’s hard to imagine how White would go out of her way to help Muslims or Hindus get more access to government programs.)
But while the new role won’t hurt either individual, I’m not sure how it’ll help. Is there really anyone who wasn’t swayed by White’s pro-Trump proclamations earlier who will suddenly veer to his base because of her formal participation?
Trump has a habit of dragging down everyone who agrees to be associated with him. White was doing just fine on her own — at something of an arm’s length from Trump. Now she wants to be intertwined with him? Seems like a mistake on her end. Unless she’s assuming the new platform will give her the ability to sell more books to more gullible individuals who believe her supposed godliness is being rewarded with wealth and power.
Then again, if Trump goes down in flames, maybe her reputation will suffer as well. We can only hope.