When we last caught up with Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition director and disgraced lobbyist, he was flogging his first novel, a political thriller called Dark Horse.
The book is not exactly a runaway best-seller. Publisher's Weekly ran a small (and not terribly positive) blurb and the Buffalo News seemed to like it, but I have not been able to locate many other reviews. Suffice to say, The New York Review of Books isn't knocking down Reed's door. Most of the reviewers on Amazon are enthusiastic, but some posters appear to have not actually read the book, and one is under the impression it was written by George Will.
It doesn't look like Dean Koontz is losing any sleep over Reed, so what's a failed writer to do? Slither back into the world of politics, of course.
The Associated Press has reported that Republican presidential candidate John McCain raised $1.75 million at an event in Atlanta heavily promoted by Reed. Reed did not attend the event at an area hotel, but his involvement in its planning is being heavily criticized.
Reed, you'll recall, disgraced himself in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal from 2006. During the investigation of that unfortunate matter, a number of embarrassing e-mails came to light. In one from 1998, Reed implored Abramoff, "I need to start humping in corporate accounts. I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts."
Lo and behold, a political consulting firm owned by Reed received $4.2 million from Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters to fight the opening of casinos. These folks were told they were fighting the spread of legalized gambling, but all they were really doing was protecting already established casinos run by Indian tribes that were Abramoff clients
All of this came out two years ago, and for Reed, the timing could not have been worse. Reed was running for lieutenant governor of Georgia at the time (undoubtedly thinking this would be his first rung on the way up the political ladder), and the revelations proved embarrassing. Reed sank in the polls and lost the primary election to an underfunded, lesser-known challenger who, under normal circumstances, would not have had a chance.
Reed resurfaced briefly in the spring, promoting the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. Romney, a Mormon, had some difficulty persuading evangelicals to back him, but no worry – Reed to the rescue. Reed consulted on a special project, a documentary titled "Article VI," designed to rally Americans around the constitutional provision that bars religious tests for public office.
I watched "Article VI," and it was actually not bad. It contained some interesting historical background. But the thought of Reed, who used to stand up at Christian Coalition meetings and (along with his then-boss TV preacher Pat Robertson) demand "Christian" officeholders, suddenly coming out big time for Article VI was just too much. I smelled more than a whiff of hypocrisy.
It doesn't look like Reed is going to make it as a novelist, so it's only natural that he would try to worm his way back into the world of politics. But this recent incident shows he's still damaged goods, so maybe it's time for a career change.
I have a suggestion for Reed: You've talked a lot over the years about how important your Christian faith is to you. I challenge you to put that into action. Hook up with your fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter and build a few houses for Habitat for Humanity. It's time you learned a few things about humility.