Ralph Reed Loses; Christian Right Wins (maybe)
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jul 20, 2006 at 03:41:44 AM EST
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By now, most people know that former Christian Coalition executive director, Ralph Reed, lost the GOP primary for Lt. Governor of Georgia. This was taken as good news for those of us who felt that if the talented Mr. Reed was able to shake off the Abramoff scandal and win the primary -- odds were good that he would go on to win the general election, and have a future in national politics. Perhaps someday moving up to governor or senator. Maybe gaining a place on the national GOP ticket someday. All such speculation is moot now, in light of his 55-45% loss to a once-obscure state senator.  

But there is only so much to celebrate in Reed's loss. Reed lost not primarily because of his views, (although some Democrats crossed over to vote against him) but because he was seen as a hypocrite, a liar and a possibly a crook.

The victor, State Senator Casey Cagle, while not a flame thrower in the mould of Ralph Reed -- is also a stalwart of the agenda of the Christian Right.

Cagle's legislative record reflects more of his areas of interest, he is a multimillionaire banker, and chairs the senate finance committee.  However, his campaign web site fleshes out a fuller story.

For example, in the "values" section of his campaign web site, he says he is 100% prolife;supports school prayer and governmental displays of the Ten Commandments, and opposes marriage equality and civil unions.

In his education platform, he strongly supports "local control," "parental choice," implying state funding support for religious charter schools and home schools.

Suffice to say, that the Cagle agenda, even the highly generic and carefully massaged version that tends to grace campaign web sites, is one consistent with religious supremacism of the Christian Right, and in opposition to basic concepts of religious equality and separation of church and state.

That said, there is a temptation to read too much into the outcomes of particular events, electoral contests, polls, etc. This is what I call the temptation to punditry. The pitfall of punditizing events as if they provide a clear window on the past and the future -- is to risk creating and believing an illusion.  The reality is that the religious right is broader and deeper than the fortunes of any one candidate; any one event; the outcome of any particular poll; the success or stumble of any religious right leader.

This is not to say that the entire Ralph Reed debacle was not a set back for the Christian Right as a movement. It was, and it is.

But it is not his primary loss that hurt the movement. It was how Reed became the poster boy for Washington insider corruption alongside Jack Abramoff. The allegations of money laundering.  His connections to a convicted pedophile . His odd alliance with the prochoice, pro-gay rights, serially philandering, Rudy Guiliani.

It was the conspicuous silence of Christian Right leaders like James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Pat Roberston, Tony Perkins and Al Mohler. This demonstrated that moral consistency is not a problem, as long as the hypocrite, is conservative, Republican and a prominent political leader who was once on the cover of Time magazine. (Seems like he merits a cover now more than he did then. But I digress.  The only prominent Christian Right leader I am aware of that spoke up about Reed was former Family Research Council head, Ken Connor.  

Now, it seems most likely that they are hoping that the Reed scandal will quiet down and go away.

Reed was once their poster boy for the rise of their movement.  Now he is joins Abramoff as a  poster boy for how the corruption of power afflicts even the Christian Right.

It does not reflect well on their movement. They know it. And they remain silent about it.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jul 20, 2006 at 03:51:40 AM EST

I was disappointed to see Ralphie lose at this stage. I would have like him to have been soundly trouced in the general election.

I am concerned Ralphie's scandle will just "quiet down & go away."

by PlacitasRoy on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 10:22:12 AM EST

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