Political Animal


September 28, 2012 11:45 AM Ralph Back To Old Tricks

By Ed Kilgore

Speaking of micro-targeting and pre-election shenanigans, nobody, but nobody, knows more about under-the-radar-screen black-bag voter appeals than our old friend Ralph Reed. And as Adele Stan reports at AlterNet, Ralph’s back with a vengeance:

Intent on making good on his post-2008 election promise to “never get out-hustled on the ground again,” Ralph Reed, who leads the right-wing Faith and Freedom Coalition, this week unveiled the organization’s ostensibly “non-partisan” presidential election voter guide, which will be inserted into church bulletins throughout the nine battleground states in which the November election will be won or lost….
[T]he guide is available in PDF form for individuals or churches to download and print out — and it also contains a nifty little bar code for scanning into one’s smart phone that prompts a video to play, offering more spin on the candidates’ positions. There are also order forms for churches to request thousands of the hard-copy guide, free of charge.
But it doesn’t end there. As AlterNet reported in July, the Faith and Freedom Coalition also intends to send out text messages with links to the voter guide embedded in the message, and claims to have on file the cell phone numbers of 13 million social conservatives. As David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network notes, the Obama campaign, known for its social-media and high-tech prowess, had only 8 million cell phone numbers in the 2008 campaign.

The main purpose of FFC’s voter guides, which should bring back memories of the famous Christian Coalition voter guides Ralph put out during that organization’s salad days, is to supply high levels of misinformation to low-information voters. As Adele notes, there are three particular “big lies” featured in the guides: (1) the “Obama cutting Medicare” myth; (2) the characterization of Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal as “cap-and-tax;” and (3) the Obamacare-funds-abortion smear.

Buttressing the impression that this effort is aimed at people who don’t usually vote, Adele notes that the voters guides are being carefully coordinated with voter registration drives:

[J]ust as these so-called voter guides hit the Sunday bulletins in evangelical churches in those all-important swing states, voter registration forms will be hitting the sanctuaries — at least if Gary Marx, Reed’s right-hand man at the Faith and Freedom Coalition, has his way. At a training session conducted at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, Marx suggested to activists that they lay those registration forms right in the pews, and collect them from congregants before they leave the church, leaving as little as possible to chance.

No wonder the Christian Right hates separation of church and state.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on September 28, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Why was this feckin' snake allowed to change skins again, instead of having to don a prison outfit, and upon release, been precluded from ever taking part in elections again.

    My hope is, and it's not one without merit, that this is just another Reed grift to separate the religious yokel's from their money.
    It's not like that'll be a first for him!

  • Gandalf on September 28, 2012 12:14 PM:

    What happened to the not bearing false witness business?

  • ChristianRightPointOfView on September 28, 2012 12:42 PM:

    No wonder the Christian Right hates separation of church and state.

    What a load of crap! We of the Christian Right love the separation of other churches from the state and will work to fully keep it that way once the state becomes our church.

    As the Most Reverend Mike Huckleberry of our Southern Baptist Church has said "If you are not Southern Baptist, you are going to hell". We of the Christian Right are seeking to save your souls. After the Southern Baptist Church becomes the official religion of the United States, we will work hard to convert you and save your souls. In the meantime, we will work hard to assure that our moral values become the law of the land.

  • Robert Waldmann on September 28, 2012 12:54 PM:

    The Christian right's views on separation of church and state are hypocritical (I know you're shocked I would suggest such a thing). They have no problem with the fact that the State doesn't tax churches. Of course a condition is that the churches don't campaign.

    If ministers want to tell the people who should be the commander in chief (aka imperator) of our armed forces, then they better render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

    I think two things are clear. Churches participating in this effort are not, given the law as it is written, tax exempt and there is no way in heaven that the IRS will sue them (that might cause a Tea Party revolt which is really a revolt).

    Also the voter guide is libelous (or slanderous no idea hell which it is if it's a pdf downloaded onto a smart phone) and no way in purgatory is Obama ever going to sue them (just not done and Bill Clinton can explain why).

    I do think some naming and shaming might be nice. Reed is demonstrably scum and ministers who feed his lies to their congregations are allies of a crook (not that I am volunteering to carry a sign outside of one of those churches -- not sure the "Christian" right is committed to that turn the other cheek business).

  • exlibra on September 28, 2012 12:58 PM:

    Christian Right POV

    Heh; good one :) But I'm sure that the Supreme Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy and Sotomayor would have something to say about Southern Baptism becoming the national religion. It'd have to be something like Cath-Bap church, for them to accept it.

  • stormskies on September 28, 2012 1:17 PM:

    Ralph Reed is not a Christian whatsoever. In reality, Reed is nothing more than a shit stain upon the shit paper that Lucifer uses ......... is essence he is an evil man HIDING BEHIND GOD ..

  • bdop4 on September 28, 2012 1:19 PM:

    Given that authoritarians like to be told what to do, this could be a very effective strategy. Regardless of what the polls say, it is very possible that conservatives could achieve a very high rate among rightwing churchgoers. The question is: are there enough of them, and can progressives match their GOTV efforts?

  • T2 on September 28, 2012 2:07 PM:

    I'll bet Reed's tactic is confined to all-white congregations.

  • gregor on September 28, 2012 2:09 PM:

    Good god (PBUH, if He needs it).

    From the headline I though that Mr. Nader has arisen from the dead again.

  • Yellowdog on September 28, 2012 2:17 PM:

    Driving up evangelical turnout was one reason for Bush's success--and Democrats in that period seemed to live in denial about:
    -how many evangelicals there are
    -how well organized and motivated they are
    -how resistant they are to non-religious forms of persuasion

    Democrats seemed to sputter out a word or two now and then about religion, while the GOP took names, counted heads, and furthered the message that Christians had no place in the liberal or progressive ranks. Dems didn't lose in the 2000s; we let ourselves get beat by refusing to believe the evangelicals could possibly do at the ballot box what they did. Denial is not an effective counter-strategy. Reed is a twerp and a huckster, but those skills are pretty effective in the world he lives in. He knows what he is doing--and he has the capacity to learn from his opponents. Do we?

  • dweb on September 28, 2012 2:50 PM:

    Yes they are organized AND they are motivated (by whatever demons dickheads like Reed can conjure up to herd them into action) but this time around, their influence is not going to be as great. These folks ARE the core of Romney's base. He has them either enthusiastically or in resignation, but they aren't going anywhere else (unless they don't vote at all.)

    GOTV will always be an important factor. I'd argue the big question this election is just how effective Voter ID requirements are in scaring off traditionally Democratic voters and whether there is any substance to the threats of True the Vote to show up at polling places and try and intimidate likely Democrats by claiming they aren't qualified to vote or questioning their credentials.

  • T2 on September 28, 2012 2:58 PM:

    the thing with Evangelicals....they hate Mormon's almost as much as blacks and browns.
    If the Romney campaign has done one thing right, it's keep the Mormon thing on the down low.

    @dweb -"likely Democrats" .....hummmm.. I wonder how they'll select "likely Democrats" out of a line at the polls.....maybe skin color?

  • rrk1 on September 28, 2012 3:07 PM:

    Using churches in a campaign is nothing new. The civil rights movement used the black churches quite effectively. In fact that was a religious crusade. So for right-wing racists and bigots to do the same thing shouldn't be a surprise nor necessarily draw morally superior sneer. Churches shouldn't be in the political game if they want to retain their tax exempt status, but then I'm an fossilized idealist. The IRS rarely does anything about these violations of the tax code, and doing so would be political dynamite. I wish the IRS were more diligent, or aggressive about stopping this sort of god campaigning, but it's very unlikely.

    Reed is one of the last right-wing fundamentalist spear chuckers either living, or not senile, or not yet caught with a boy in his bed. His unholy alliance with Jack Abrahamoff revealed his Vatican class hypocrisy, and his crass interest in money. This baby-faced slime ball shouldn't be allowed in any church worthy of the name, but then there aren't many of those to begin with. Of course this campaign of misinformation, and wink-wink-vote-for-Romney, will only extend to white churches. That goes without saying, although the appeals to racism will be dog whistles. Most of those all white southern churches don't need Reed. Their pastors have been telling them what they want to hear every week, and I doubt Reed won't have much of an effect - except on his own bank account.

  • Judith on September 29, 2012 8:05 PM:

    At least in my State, if you leave the registration forms in the pew to be picked up later you have violated election and voter registration laws. The GOP already has a problem with voter registration in a number of States.

  • Peter Principle on September 30, 2012 11:36 PM:

    I would think that by this point Ralph and his crew have kinda maxxed out on the fundie vote.

    I mean, if they aren't going to register and go to the poll to stop the Muslim Communist Kenyan Dictator Usurper, when are they going to turn out?