Stick a fork in him — As suspected, former Christian Coalition wunderkind and Casino Jack flunky Ralph Reed is politically finished after being forced to concede the Georgia Lieutenant Governor’s race, a campaign he was a mortal lock to win before his Abramoff shenanigans leaked. Almost as sweet as Reed’s comeuppance, we now know that, despite the GOP’s gamble, the Ballad of Casino Jack does in fact play at the polls this election season. Better start dancin’, Boehner…
“‘There’s confusion among the Christian conservatives,’ Mr. Towery, the pollster, said. ‘I’m not going to say Cagle’s taking the base, but he’s picking away at it.’” In related news, the NYT surveys the ailing political fortunes of Abramoff accomplice Ralph Reed, now fighting for his political life in a GOP primary for Georgia Lieutenant Governor that takes place this Tuesday. “Mr. Reed’s critics seized on the scandal as proof that he had deployed his Christian supporters for profit. ‘Ralph Reed sold out our values,’ Mr. Cagle’s advertisements say, calling him ‘hypocritical and immoral’ and accusing him of ‘manipulating Christians for casinos.’” Yep, sounds about right.
“The Reed story confirms what many devout Christians have argued since conservative social activists became a force in national politics in the 1970s: Engaging in worldly political maneuvering is ultimately debasing…Hearts are better changed one at a time in the churches than through elections or legislation.” With Ralph Reed’s recent shenanigans as a newspeg, Slate‘s John Dickerson surveys the continuing crackup of the evangelical GOP.
Casino Jack’s plea deal claims another Congressional victim: Over the weekend (when I discovered his name sounds like “neigh” and not “knee”) and as expected, “Freedom Fries” sponsor and DeLay flunky Bob Ney agreed to step down as House Admin chair. And now, a few Congress-watchers are starting to take a closer look at Speaker Hastert‘s role in the Abramoff scandals, and in perpetuating the DeLay Ring’s rule. “‘I suppose that DeLay was simply a much more inviting target for the [Democrats], so Hastert is left alone,’ said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). ‘Maybe people will start focusing on Hastert now.’“
Meanwhile, as DeLay’s numbers plummet in his home district, things aren’t looking so hot either for former GOP wunderkind Ralph Reed, an old Abramoff college friend with a long and troubling e-mail evidence chain to Casino Jack. “‘After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God,’ said Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed. ‘We are righteously casting him out.’“