Tuesday, July 04, 2006

GOP's Civil War in Georgia

* UPDATED 7/5 *

At the Cobb County Republican Party's annual 4th of July barbecue at Miller Park on the west side of Marietta, the smoked pork was provided by Williamson Brothers, but those who prefer their meat red and bloody were watching the increasingly bitter war between Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle for lieutenant governor of Georgia in the July 18 primary.

Suffice it to say that Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment -- "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican" -- seems not to apply in a Georgia GOP primary.

Reed's TV ads have accused Cagle of all manner of ethical and political wrongs. Pollster Matt Towery told me he thought it was a mistake for the Cagle campaign not to have beaten Reed to the punch.

But Monday, Cagle finally dropped what Towery calls the "hydrogen bomb" of the campaign: An ad highlighting Reed's connections to Jack Abramoff.

That was reported Tuesday -- Rob Huddleston blogged it and the AJC also reported it (h/t: Jeff Scott) -- and followed up Wednesday:

The new Cagle ad shows Mr. Reed being played as a face card in a poker hand, an allusion to the casino-lobbying scandal that has sent Abramoff and two associates to federal prison and caused Democrats to accuse the Republican Party of fostering a "culture of corruption."

"What's behind Ralph Reed's false attacks?" an announcer asks in the Cagle ad being aired statewide. "A record of betrayal he's desperate to hide. Reed said gambling is 'immoral' but took millions of dollars from convicted felon Jack Abramoff to help casinos." ...

The Reed lead is barely outside the four percentage point margin of error in that poll, however. The Cagle campaign's internal polling -- which includes what opinion analysts call "leaners" -- shows their candidate ahead by as much as nine percentage points, Mr. Alexander said yesterday.

Peach State blogs the story, and a commenter has this prediction:

"I predict ... Reed will win by a couple of points. Given what he has endured, Reed should be congratulated."

I like that word "endured." For $5 million, I think I could "endure" a lot, but I don't know that I would expect to be "congratulated" for it.

The Hill reports: Grover Norquist says the Senate report on the Abramoff scandal is retribution by Crazy Cousin John. I'll admit that some McCains have been known to do things like that from time to time, but I'm with John Boehner here: “I think I’ll stay out of this one.”

Don Surber doesn't think the GOP primary is exemplary of Georgia's famed friendliness.

Ralph Wobegone
Garrison Keillor (of all people) weighs in:
A true party loyalist would withdraw from the Republican primary for lieutenant governor of Georgia and say, "I will not allow this mess to distract people from the good work of my party." But Mr. Reed is no quitter.
"Had I known then what I know now, I would not have undertaken the work," he said, when the details came out in a Senate Indian Affairs Committee report. Mr. Reed insists he didn't know it was gambling money, which, given the e-mail traffic between him and Mr. Abramoff, is a thin twig on which to hang a defense. ...
Mr. Reed is running for office, and that's no time for repentance. Time to hunker down and hope that the prosecutors are occupied with other matters. Smile and shake hands and keep changing the subject. If a reporter mentions Abramoff, smile and say, "I've said as much as I'm going to about that, and now I want to talk about my plan to strengthen families in Georgia."
Gambling? "I've always been opposed to gambling."
Deceit? Greed? "No charges have been filed. I have been exonerated of wrongdoing."
Will it work? We shall soon see.
This is why Republicans don't listen to NPR. To Keillor and his audience, Reed's behavior merely confirms their own Blue State liberal prejudices: All conservative Christians are hypocrites and all Republicans are corrupt.
To Keillor, Ralph Reed is Huey Long and Jimmy Swaggart rolled into one, more proof of what liberals have always believed, namely that all Yankee secular liberals are morally and intellectually superior to all Southern Christian conservatives.
The fact that Abramoff's clients gave over $1 million in campaign cash to Democrats -- including over $40,000 to Sen. Patty Murray, and more than $30,000 each to Charles Rangel, Patrick Kennedy and Harry Reid? Myopic liberals like Keillor never seem to notice that.
What liberals also ignore is that there is no cover-up. Republicans don't give fellow Republicans a free pass.
Abramoff, Scanlon, Kidan? In prison.
Who put them there? Justice Department prosecutors appointed by Bush.
Tom DeLay? Quit Congress.
But there are yet a few holdouts, a few guys who didn't get the memo. What shall become of them? Mr. Keillor is at least correct in saying: "We shall soon see."

'Reactionary trash'
By the way, DONKEY CONS has been called a "reactionary trash book" by the blogger who posted an anti-redneck screed at DailyKos. Coming from such losers, we'll take that as a compliment! If we get to a paperback edition, we might even put that endorsement on the back cover ...

-- McCAIN