On September 4, the Washington Post’s Book World ran a review by Professor David Greenberg of Jonathan Aitken’s biography Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed. For those familiar with Colson’s good works and charitable contributions, the review reads like a dirty trick or, in the words of the review, a “smear job.” Greenberg writes:
[W]hile Colson’s current schemes [promoting President Bush’s faith-based initiative] surely don’t merit him more jail time, they hardly suggest a meaningfully changed man. Indeed, in the book’s final pages, Aitken fleetingly mentions that grants from Bush’s faith-based initiative now fill Colson’s coffers. In this context, it seems, “redemption” means cashing in.
Aitken’s book, however, mentions no such thing. In the passage to which Greenberg seems to be alluding, Aitken writes:
President Bush has publicly supported the IFI [InnerChange Freedom Initiative] prisons and the Angel Tree scheme.
Bush’s public support of the IFI prison program and Angel Tree, however, has been limited to his verbal expression of admiration for them and his personal participation in an Angel Tree gift-giving event in December 2003. Moreover, since its establishment in 1976, the Prison Fellowship Ministry has never accepted federal funds. How Bush’s faith-based initiative has filled Colson’s coffers is a mystery known only to Professor Greenberg.
Greenberg’s misreading of Aitken’s book seems almost willfully perverse.