Bloggers Read Ralph the Riot Act

While some conservatives are casting Ralph Reed out over his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, bloggers are welcoming him into their warm embrace.

This morning, a front-page article in the Washington Post honed in on another potential loser in the ongoing Jack Abramoff scandal: Ralph Reed, candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and erstwhile Golden Boy of the Republican party.

The Post examined the 25-year friendship between Abramoff and Reed, concluding that the close relationship might ultimately jeopardize Reed’s once-bright political future. At one point, the paper quoted a series of email exchanges that surfaced during the course of the investigation, including one in which Abramoff sized up Reed in an email to his partner Michael Scanlon. “He is a bad version of us!” wrote Abramoff.

All of which is apparently costing Reed political support in Georgia. “After reading the email, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God,” Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed, told the Post. “We are righteously casting him out.”

Bloggers, on the other hand, were busy this morning righteously welcoming Reed into their warm embrace.

“Wow — this is really a bad article for Ralph Reed … I am not going to shed any tears for this joker, unless they are in laughter,” noted Text Only. “When you have Jack Abramoff calling you a bad version of himself … the mind reels.”

“There is a certain level of schadenfreude I’m feeling about this,” wrote the Smirking Cynic. “I firmly believe — even from before this Abramoff connection — that Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition represent all that is wrong with modern Christianity. To see the man who was referred to by Time magazine as ‘God’s Right Hand’ being shown to be as corrupt as I’ve always known him to be is something of an unexpected reward.”

“Poor Ralph Reed,” wrote Bits of Blue. “Looks like he’s on his way down. I really should resolve to take less pleasure from things like this but it just nourishes the soul to see a phony moralizer exposed for what he really is — a power-hungry money-grubber who just uses religion as another political tool.”

“It’s too bad that Ralphie boy forgot that Jesus threw the money changers OUT of the temple, he did not embrace them,” wrote Burned Over District in a post entitled, “The Passion of the Ralph Reed.”

For the most part, conservative bloggers ignored the story. Those that did comment didn’t defend Reed but instead blamed the whole thing on a liberal media elite unfairly picking on Republicans.

“Almost every day I see articles in the Post about Republicans who have been tainted by the Abramoff scandal, but I have seen very few, if any, about the Democrats,” noted the Houston Conservative. “This in spite of the fact that some of the biggest recipients of Abramoff’s largess have been Democrats. Harry Reid, Bryon Dorgan, Max Baucus, to mention just a few of a long list. Much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the Democrat propaganda machine, this Abramoff scandal reaches deeply into the ranks of both parties.”

Elsewhere, Joshua Marshall took a look at the “it’s not just Republicans!” defense.

“Did Jack Abramoff give money to Democrats?” asked Marshall. “To the best of my knowledge Abramoff never contributed any money to Democrats. And that’s hardly surprising. Abramoff is a life-long professional Republican. How much money do you figure James Carville has contributed to Republicans over the last two decades. Or Paul Begala? It’s almost a silly question.”

“When you hear about Republicans and Democrats getting ‘Abramoff money’ what’s being talked about aren’t personal contributions from Abramoff but contributions from entities he worked for as a lobbyist,” he added. “So, for instance, Abramoff lobbies for Indian tribe X. Indian tribe X contributes to politician Y. Hence, politician Y got ‘Abramoff money.’”

“More generally, I think you’ll see over the course of the next year that these federal ‘hard’ money contributions — either from Abramoff or his clients — aren’t where the real game was being played,” concluded Marshall. “The real action was in money funneled or laundered through various DC-based non-profits or de facto cash payments to members of Congress or their staffs. … Stay tuned.”

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.