Ralph Back To Old Tricks

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

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.