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.”
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.