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Tilting at Windmills

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June 25, 2009

RALPH REED?.... Wait a second. Ralph Reed believes he can show his face in public again? He thinks he has the credibility to once again be a political player?

Ralph Reed, the Republican operative who built the Christian Coalition into a potent political force in the 1990s by mobilizing evangelicals and other religious conservatives and who did similar work to help George W. Bush win two presidential elections, is quietly launching a group aimed at using the Web to mobilize a new generation of values voters. In addition to targeting the GOP's traditional faith-based allies -- white evangelicals and observant Catholics -- the group, called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics, blacks, young people, and women.

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday.

Now, as a substantive matter, the idea of yet another religious right group seems pretty silly. There are already plenty of organizations and ministries, doing the same work, on the same issues, chasing the same donors with the same culture-war message, with the same goal in mind. The problem isn't a dearth of groups; it's that the American mainstream has already rejected the movement's message.

But putting that aside, Ralph Reed is trying to make a comeback? I know it's been a few years, but the Abramoff scandal left Reed a humiliated disgrace. It wasn't just some embarrassing misunderstanding; the scandal ruined him. Permanently.

Remember this one, from June 2006?

Yet another delightful characterization of Ralph Reed, courtesy of today's McCain report on the Abramoff scandal. This one comes courtesy of Jack Abramoff himself, via his discussion with Marc Schwartz, a public relations representative for the Tigua tribe in Texas.

Let's pick up the report on page 148. Schwartz was evaluating whether the tribe should hire Abramoff as its lobbyist: To Schwartz, Abramoff appeared to have the right credentials. Abramoff claimed to be a close friend of Congressman Tom DeLay. He also discussed his friendship with Reed, recounting some of their history together at College Republicans. When Schwartz observed that Reed was an ideologue, Schwartz recalled that Abramoff laughingly replied "as far as the cash goes."

Or, how about this one?

Ralph Reed, email to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, 1998: "Hey, now that I'm done with the electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."

Or this?

E-mails and testimony before McCain's panel showed that Reed, who once branded gambling a "cancer" on society, reaped millions of dollars in tribal casino proceeds that Abramoff secretly routed to him through various non-profit front groups. Abramoff, a lobbyist for the tribes, paid Reed to whip up "grassroots" Christian opposition to prevent rival tribes from opening casinos.

And now Reed wants to launch the "Faith and Freedom Coalition"? You've got to be kidding me.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Comments

Yes, but, yes, but: That was such a looong time ago, and the facts are fuzzy. Something about Abraham and the Lost Tribes of Isael, wasn't it?

Besides, Ralph was such a cute little fella, and isn't Christianity all about redemption and foregiveness and who among us hasn't sinned?

At least he wasn't involved in any of that icky sexual stuff. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 25, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

does ralph reed remind anyone else of the eli character from "there will be blood"?

Posted by: snidely on June 25, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

DAY has the scoop on the booboisie and the baptoisie (sorry): we remember all that stuff, but they don't. And, their into that redemption angle which immunizes their icons from any criticism of past sins.

Posted by: delver on June 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"At least he wasn't involved in any of that icky sexual stuff. "
....that we know of or can document. You know they all have skeletons in their closets , whether or not they've come out of them.

Posted by: John R on June 25, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday.

Bwaa hahaha!!! 24 karat comedy.

Posted by: Monty on June 25, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Among the gullible everything is forgiven, assuming they remember, and the humiliation won't matter. He's always been a carnival barker on the make, and he's too old, despite his Dorian Gay face, to change. The country may have changed, but he'll try the same old stuff, and will probably restock his checking account.

Posted by: rrk1 on June 25, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Being a Born-again Christian means only having to say you're sorry.

It's really as simple as that.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on June 25, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

My God, those Republicans really are a party of new ideas.

Posted by: qwerty on June 25, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Just another example of a failed wingnut parasite trying to make a fast buck using the same tired schemes that may have worked once but have long since lost whatever effectiveness they might have had.

Look, Ralph. We now have a black president who is not exactly a big fan of yours, Hispanics have no use for anything even remotely Republican, young people are way beyond your reach and women don't even know what planet you're from these days.

That ship left the dock a long time ago, old buddy. Even Dobson has given up the fight. If you need a job, go to night school and get some marketable skills. The days of endless free money are over. Get used to it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on June 25, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

the Abramoff scandal left Reed a humiliated disgrace.

The last Republican who was capable of feeling humiliated resigned from office in August 1974 -- and even he went out and tried to make a comeback.

Posted by: Steve M. on June 25, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"You can fool some of the people all of the time."

Hey, come to think of it, wasn't he one of the founders of the Republican Party?

Posted by: bleh on June 25, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

The people who pander to the "Values Voters" know, THEY KNOW, that the "Values Voters" WANT politicians to pander to them. Ultimately, if they're hearing the things they want to hear, they can forgive whatever source of the piehole from which those words emanate. The fact that Gingrich is still given platforms and venues from which to spew his hypocritical bile after getting one of his wives to sign divorce papers whilst trying to recover from cancer surgery (and have affairs while persecuting Clinton) should be Exhibits A through H. They don't care who's telling them what they want to hear, only that someone's taking the time to tell them the things they want to hear. Tell 'em you'll fight for their values, they'll turn a blind eye if you don't actually PRACTICE those same values. They've been behaving this way for quite some time, and I won't believe they'll stop until they actually do.

Posted by: slappy magoo on June 25, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Who's Jack Abramoff?

Posted by: thevotingpublic on June 25, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Reed may be the wrong guy, but the idea of an evangelical group targeted to hispanics is a good idea. Latin America is very Catholic and leans towards social conservatives. The Republicans reflexive 'close the border' rhetoric has been a tremendous boon to Democrats. If they ever get past that attitude there is a lot of room for them to make inroads into the Hispanic community the same way they captured much of the working class coomunity.

Social issues could become a powerful wedge in the Hispanic community in the next few years. Democrats would be wise not to take the Hispanic vote for granted.

Posted by: Thorin-1 on June 25, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Shame is soooo 2nd millennium.

Posted by: Monty on June 25, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

How come Paul C. Braun (R-Ga) shows up near the top when I Google "Faith and Freedom Coalition"?

Posted by: anonymous on June 25, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Good. The much-needed shit magnet who'll draw out all the turds under one big tent so we can keep tabs on 'em.

More Reed please!!

Posted by: MissMudd on June 25, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

when dick cheney's shit-filled soul is damned to hell, i'm hopin' ralph reed's soul will be shoved up cheney's hell-bound ass...

and if there is a god anywhere near like what ralph reed thinks there is... god damn His soul to hell, too...

Posted by: neill on June 25, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

You know they all have skeletons in their closets , whether or not they've come out of them.

Posted by: John R on June 25, 2009 at 1:21 PM

So true, and I suspect Ralphie's closet is bigger than most.

Posted by: electrolite on June 25, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

He's perfect (for the Dems)! Run, Ralphie, run!

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 25, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Reed has leapt the thin line between hackery and hucksterism.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on June 25, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Joey @ 1:31PM: Being a Born-again Christian means only having to say you're sorry.

Most evangelicals I've met (with very few exceptions) seem to operate on the principle that they can follow their greed or their hormones -- and, when caught, just ask for forgiveness from god (somebody's god, anyway), and then are free to do it all over again. Rinse and Repeat.

It doesn't mean that they change their behavior -- as far as they're concerned, "Jesus forgives me -- why can't you? What's wrong with you?"

The other version of this is that they're really "doing god's will" -- and if you criticize or obstruct them, well... you're an agent of Satan.

I'm a Chtulu worshipper, so I don't care, really; Reed and the rest of the so-called christians will end up as first-act entertainment on the Day Of The Return. Just Sayin'.

Posted by: Mongo on June 25, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Reed may be the wrong guy, but the idea of an evangelical group targeted to hispanics is a good idea.

Maybe. But probably not. Evangelical Latinos and Catholic Latinos are two distinct blocs within the Latino community. The Catholics, while "socially conservative" on average are more diverse and have long supported Democrats over Republicans 2 to 1. At least.

Social issues could become a powerful wedge in the Hispanic community in the next few years. Democrats would be wise not to take the Hispanic vote for granted.

Moreover, this same logic has been applied to the black vote too -- and it's never, ever worked. Primarily because Republican policies have been targeted to fuck over large segments of the black and latino communities. African-Americans are also thought to be "socially-conservative", yet somehow, they vote on economic issues. Not social ones.

Posted by: Jay B. on June 25, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans reflexive 'close the border' rhetoric has been a tremendous boon to Democrats. If they ever get past that attitude there is a lot of room for them to make inroads into the Hispanic community

While in a theoretical sense this could happen, do ya really see any sign at all that it is? It's like saying "If Republicans decide not to be Republicans, a lot more people will want to be Republicans." Whatever is going to eventually happen to or change in that party, I don't think it's even foreseeable now how it will go.

Posted by: Daddy Love on June 25, 2009 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't that be, "$aith and $reedom Coalition"?

Posted by: Mike on June 25, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

This kind of rehab is only possible because after a short period for the dimmest memories to fade, nobody in the MSM would be so crass as to mention that the featured commentary is provided by an out-and-out crook - as long as they hew to the wingnut line.

Thus the popularity of the Newtster on all the talk shows. Since these jerks cater to the dimmest bulbs among us, since they specialize in rewriting history anyway to their academically challenged followers, what difference a little fraud amongst ideologues?

Par for the course.

Posted by: UnEasyOne on June 25, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Don't you get it yet? The Democrats made Reed do it.

Posted by: BernieO on June 25, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

At least he wasn't involved in any of that icky sexual stuff.

I wouldn't bet the ranch on that one.

Posted by: Cub Scout on June 25, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK
In addition to targeting the GOP's traditional faith-based allies -- white evangelicals and observant Catholics -- the group, called the Faith and Freedom Coalition, will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics, blacks, young people, and women.

"This is not your daddy's Christian Coalition," Reed said in an interview Monday.

Yeah, its exactly a repeat of the Christian Coalition of the last generation, which did pretty much the same thing; back then Catholics were also a traditional Democratic constituency, one that the CC then targetted (with fairly limited success, hence the "observant Catholics" reference) because it found that it wasn't as able to influence policy as it would like with as narrow of a base as it had.

Of course, the more it expands the scope, the harder it is for identity politics to work, since the identity they are trying to leverage gets more and more muddled.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 25, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

That was then. Now he has found God!

Posted by: Seneca Doane on June 25, 2009 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Mongo: Most evangelicals I've met (with very few exceptions) seem to operate on the principle that they can follow their greed or their hormones -- and, when caught, just ask for forgiveness from god (somebody's god, anyway), and then are free to do it all over again. Rinse and Repeat.

Check.

Of course, let someone else try this gambit, and it's "cheap grace".


Posted by: Wally Ballou on June 25, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Liddy, Colson, Abrams ...

Easy peasy. Get born again and the slate is wiped clean.

Posted by: AlanDownunder on June 26, 2009 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think he has opened the Internet floodtaps yet, so just who among the likely suspects has he suckered this time?

Posted by: Bob Johnson on June 26, 2009 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this just about money with a little bit of Brett Favrism mixed in for good measure?

Posted by: hoi polloi on June 26, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

NvevgJ

Posted by: Kvfhbxfx on July 14, 2009 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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