In conservative political circles, you can't keep a bad man down; he'll just come back and write a novel. And so comes word that former Christian Coalition wunderkind, Jack Abramoff crony and failed Georgia GOP candidate Ralph Reed is joining Scooter Libby, Lynne Cheney and Bill O'Reilly among the pulp pushers of the right.
On Monday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Reed will soon publish his first novel, Dark Horse. As to its subject, the AJC speculates only, "The guess here is that it won't be a bodice-ripper."
If not, Reed would not be following in the footsteps of other recent right-wing partisans for whom poorly crafted, soft-core pornography has become quite the cottage industry. For example, long before former Cheney chief-of-staff Scooter Libby became a convicted felon for his role in the Plamegate case, in 2001 he penned The Apprentice, a bizarre coming of age tale set in 1903 Japan featuring prostitution, deviant sexual acts and bestiality. 25 years before Second Lady Lynne Cheney authored her 2007 paean to her husband Dick, she conjured up Sisters, a tale of forbidden lesbian love in the Old West. Even culture warrior Bill O'Reilly demonstrated his lack of a gift for fiction in his 1998 trashfest, Those Who Trespass.
But in his novel, Reed doesn't need to follow Scooter Libby's lead in writing about arousing a bear with a stick or asking "if they should f**k the deer." The Fox News contributor and high-profile consultant who traded Pat Robertson for Jack Abramoff can just write crime thrillers based on his own life.
Reed, after all was a central figure in the Abramoff scandals that helped undo the Republican Party (as well as his own bid to become Georgia's lieutenant governor). Like Abramoff, Reed feasted on native American tribe to the tune of millions of dollars for casino lobbying. He famously joined Abramoff, Ohio Congressman Bob Ney and Bush procurement official David Safavian on the notorious golfing trip to Scotland. (Abramoff, Ney and Safavian were all latest convicted for their crimes.) In 2004, Reed received $4.2 million to mobilize Christian voters to fight new casinos opposed by Abramoff's tribal clients.
As it turns out, Jack Abramoff even provided Reed with a cheat sheet with enough material for a trilogy.
In October 2005, Time published excerpts from Reed's email correspondence with Abramoff. The emails provide a treasure trove for the would-be novelist, including how to tap highly-placed officials like Karl Rove and Haley Barbour for greasing the skids for dirty deals and how to dupe tribes of both sides of the casino conflict in Mississippi and Louisiana. (In one message just after 9/11, Reed tells Abramoff he "put in a tag call to Karl to find out the best contact at FEMA" for a scheme to house Ground Zero rescue workers on leased cruise ships.) There are even some potshots at the future Republican presidential nominee, John McCain.
Even before his dealings with Abramoff, Reed was already describing his work as a groundbreaking Republican operative along the lines of a Tom Clancy plot. As he told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot in 1991:
"I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."
In early 2006, Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member and now former Reed backer offered the perfect "fall from grace" story line:
"After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God. We are righteously casting him out."
Hopefully, the readers of America will do the same.