WASHINGTON – Rather than delivering a fiery policy speech Friday at the Young America's Foundation's National Conservative Student Conference, Timothy Goeglein, vice president of external affairs for Focus on the Family, recalled how pride led to his disgraceful resignation from the President George W. Bush administration.
"If anyone here is suffering from pride, you and I were meant to meet today," Goeglein told attendees.
Goeglein served as special assistant to President Bush and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison from 2001 to 2008. In that position, he was the main liaison between the White House and social conservative organizations. As an evangelical Christian who had worked in the U.S. Senate and on Gary Bauer's 2000 presidential campaign, he was well suited for the position.
He resigned from that position after it was discovered that he had plagiarized columns he wrote for his hometown newspaper in Fort Wayne, Ind.
"Learn from my example," Goeglein told the young conservative activists in attendance as he recounted the story, which is also told in his book, The Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era, and a November interview with The Christian Post.
It was his pride, Goeglein said, that led him to plagiarize the articles, because he was always "wanting to be the clever one."
"A prideful person is not satisfied with who they are."
Proverbs 16:18 is correct, Goeglein said: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (ESV).
"For those of you who are guilty of pride," he warned, "you will face the same unless you change. I say this out of love, not indictment."
Goeglein also recalled his meeting with President Bush after he admitted his failures and resigned from his position.
As Goeglein began to apologize, Bush told him, "You are forgiven."
"I was stunned," he recalled, expecting to be "taken to the woodshed."
As he tried again to apologize, Bush interrupted him and said, "I have known grace and mercy in my life. You are forgiven."
"This was the most powerful man on Earth, at the lowest point in my life, extending forgiveness."
In marveling at the wonderful experiences in his life, from working in the White House to traveling all over the world and to all 50 states, Goeglein said that life "doesn't compare to the most important part of my life -- being a follower of Jesus Christ."
The July 30 to Aug. 4 Washington, D.C., conference had over 300 attendees, including over 220 full-time attendees representing 37 states. Other speakers included Michele Bachmann, Robert George, Newt Gingrich, Star Parker, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.