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FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Ralph Reed feels sting of political backlash

Many would-be or has-been politicians around the country are, no doubt, taking a measure of satisfaction from Ralph Reed's defeat at the polls.

Like Mr. Reed, who complained he was the target of a smear campaign, those other defeated candidates know the sting of unfair political tactics, such as the half truths and wife-beater questions they encountered from the Christian Coalition.

But in Mr. Reed's case, he simply couldn't explain away his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his public relations man Michael Scanlon and his megabucks role in helping them help Mississippi Indian casino operators keep gambling out of Alabama.

Mr. Reed, the 45-year-old former head of the Christian Coalition, was once a shoo-in for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. After proving he could win big, he would become governor on his way to the White House.

The taint of being a 25-year friend with Mr. Abramoff and being less than candid about that relationship is now a major hurdle for him to overcome. Georgia Republican voters saw a disconnect between Mr. Reed, the Christian Coalition man, and the values he embraced as a business consultant.

Major corporations anxious to tap into the Christian Coalition army of consumers made Mr. Reed a rich man for giving them advice.

But people who put themselves in position to weigh a nation's moral values should not be so easily taken in, as Coalition people say they were.

Perhaps, though, it's better politics to plead dumb, stupid and sanctimonious than to admit to having willingly consorted with the forces of evil, and for a handsome profit.

In an e-mail from Mr. Abramoff to Mr. Scanlon, he once complained of Mr. Reed's greed:

"He is a bad version of us! No more money for him."

Both have pleaded guilty to defrauding clients.

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