"For a high-profile religious conservative like Reed, the stories of being paid millions by one Indian tribe to run a religious-based antigambling campaign to prevent another tribe from opening a rival casino made him look like something worse than a criminal--a hypocrite. He had once called gambling a 'cancer' on the body politic. And the e-mails to [Jack] Abramoff didn't help, especially those that seemed to suggest that the man who had deplored in print Washington's system of 'honest graft' was eager to be part of it. 'I need to start humping in corporate accounts!' he wrote Abramoff a few days after the 1998 election.
To Reed, it sometimes appeared, Christian voters were pawns in a game of power swapping. The Journal-Constitution reported that the man who had once condemned China for its one-child policy and its persecution of Christians had created a 'grass-roots' Christian group to lobby for freer trade with the superpower--an effort quietly financed by major U.S. corporations like Boeing that were the Georgian's true clients. The profits Reed collected from such dealings were not, by any indication, the wages of illegal behavior. But to some they were the wages of sin. 'He got nailed for being a phony,' says a fellow G.O.P. operative in Washington, with more than a little schadenfreude.
...Reed used to blame liberals and secularized politicians for treating religious conservatives as uneducated, gullible and easy to lead. He proved that religious voters were a potent force that shouldn't be ignored or condescended to. 'People of faith,' he once wrote, had become the new 'Amos and Andy,' and he was determined to push to the center of American politics their 'cluster of pro-family issues' so they could attract 'a majority of voters.'† But Reed forgot his own lessons. In the face of incredibly damning evidence, he insisted that he hadn't done anything wrong and that he didn't know he was consorting with a friend nicknamed Casino Jack or taking money from gambling interests. He thought he could convince his base that they shouldn't believe their eyes and ears, that they should trust him instead. In the end, not enough did.
[Time | July 31, 2006]
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