Here’s a little more elaborate explanation of the “Reed issue,” and my thoughts on it:
As I mentioned a few days ago in a separate comment thread, my problem with Reed supporters flocking to other candidates — be they Romney, Hudgens, Whitehead, etc. Write Post— has nothing to do with a “hatred of Ralph Reed,” or with an attempt to “punish” folks for who they supported in a primary election, or with trying to re-play an election which took place half a year ago. Nor is a candidate’s (or an endorser’s) “support and opposition to Reed” a criterium, in and of itself, for the candidate’s receiving support in the upcoming elections.
However, I think that a lot can be told about somebody by looking closely at who follows them, and at who they allow themselves to be surrounded with. Reed was a great example of that — many, many people were turned off to him more by the unsavory, blindly ambitious, just plain bad people who rallied to him, worked/volunteered for him, and who were some of his most vocal supporters (A MINORITY, I have no doubt), than were turned off by his personality or by the scandal surrounding him.
As I mentioned in a previous thread, It’s troubling to me that so many of these folks have flocked (following, again, RR) to Mitt Romney for ‘08, and it is likewise troubling to me that some are rallying around Mr. Whitehead (and interesting that in the process they, like their mentor who abandoned Rudy Giuliani — who campaigned hard for him in the primary — are also throwing another staunch Reed supporter — Ralph Hudgens — under the bus).
In my opinion, they’re being led to folks like Romney or Whitehead by the same political opportunism (or “smelling of a winner”) which led so many of them to follow Reed (when it seemed like he was the goliath who would stomp any in his way, and when it seemed so expedient to be at his side when he won). I don’t think that this in itself reflects completely on Mr. Romney or on Mr. Whitehead; however, who he choses to continue to surround himself with will.
I haven’t decided whom I support yet, personally, in the presidential primary or in the special election (not that I think my own support is any more earth-shaking an endorsement than the next guy’s); however, especially as a resident of the 10th district, I will take care to look at a number of factors regarding each candidate — including what type of person he or she chooses to surround him or herself with. Ditto the presidency.
The fact is, regardless what Reed may have “done for the GOP in this state,” his candidacy — and, even more, the rabid, ambitious aggression of many of his acolytes — did more to tear the state’s conservatives and Republicans apart than I can remember seeing done in quite some time, and it is the flocking of those specific followers to candidates which gives me pause about the quality, and the honesty, of that candidate. Call it learning from experience, or whatever else you’d like; the fact is that, while I don’t “hate Ralph Reed,” I do fully believe, and have reached this conclusion both through experience and through investigation (such as reading the damning McCain senate report and listening to the words of Mr. Abramoff himself), that he is not only fundamentally dishonest, but also that he embodies all of the worst attributes of the blindly ambitious politician, the type of which we need no more in this state and this country.
The fact is, in my opinion, Georgia (and the Georgia GOP) would be better off had Reed never run, and if he never again attempts to gain public office, then we will be infinitely better off than otherwise. Would that those of his followers who became such as a means of riding his coattails to their own ambitious ends had learned a lesson from last year; however, at least from personal experience to this point, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
This is not an indictment of every Reed supporter, follower, or endorser; I have no doubt whatsoever that most were absolutely wonderful people with naught but the best of intentions. However, as is all too often the case (in politics and elsewhere), the vocal, rabid, aggressive, unsavory minority not only reflects on the rest of those who are involved, but carries that stigma with them to other candidates and activities, as well.