A plagiarism scandal forced Timothy Goeglein to resign in 2008 from former President George W. Bush's administration. The special assistant to President Bush and public liaison deputy director often engaged with evangelicals before he admitted to copying work for several of his columns for a newspaper in Indiana. He previously worked for Indiana Senator Dan Coats and once served as a spokesman for Gary Bauer, who ran for President in 2000. The now vice president for external relations at Focus on the Family spoke to Christianity Today about what led to the plagiarism, how the President responded, and what grace and redemption mean in a political context.
What happened after a reporter revealed that you had plagiarized?
When you embarrass the President, a divorce takes place. You become persona non grata immediately. Through my own fault, no pressure, no stress, no extenuating circumstances, because of what I did and the choices I made, I inflicted shame and embarrassment on the man who has given me the greatest professional opportunity of my life. I inflicted shame and embarrassment on my wife, my children, my 20 years of interns—I was a total hypocrite—and I resigned.
How did President Bush react?
I resigned, no excuses, on a Friday. On a Monday I came in to take the pictures off my wall and clear off my desk, and I received a call from the chief of staff, Josh Bolton. He asked me how my wife and children were doing and told me he forgave me. He said, "The boss wants to see you." That means the President. When I got there, it was just the President and me, and I apologized. He looked at me and said "Tim, I forgive you." I tried to apologize a second time, and he said, "Grace and mercy is real. I've known it in my ...1