The Ralph Reed Factor

Nothing in the early returns gives Chatterbox more pleasure that seeing the collapse of candidates advised by the over-rated and over-quoted GOP consultant Ralph Reed. Alabama’s nut-case, ten-commandment-loving, right-wing Gov. Fob James went down to defeat, despite Reed’s sage counsel. And in Indianapolis, Democrat Julia Carson turned back a challenge from another Reed client, jewelry-store owner and conservative zealot Gary Hofmeister. Carson, one of the few black House members to represent a majority white district, survived Hofmeister playing the race card in a particularly heavy-handed, Willie-Horton-esque ad. In the spot–a new low in Reed’s conviction-driven, right-with-God politics–a picture of Carson melds into images of hypodermic needles and prison doors. Alas, Chatterbox is convinced that pundits will promptly forget Reed’s sorry record next time they lovingly quote the boy genius on GOP presidential politics.

Walter Shapiro