The Hard Right Turn in Newport Beach This Weekend

The Western CPAC conference is happening this weekend at the Radisson Inn in Newport Beach, and I sure as hell hope all those conservative candidates for office bring their birth certificates with them.  This weekend will be a celebration of a political movement convinced their only way to regain power is to oppose everything President Obama stands for and that being even more conservative will somehow attract a majority of Americans.  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Bachmanville), pictured below, is a keynote speaker.

Tim Pawlenty (Gov. R-MN):: Obstructionist Republican Clown by WMxdesign / Hebiclens.

I, for one, am tired of hearing about “principaled conservatives” who are never able to actually govern by the principals they worship.  After all, Republicans have held the White House for 19 of the past 29 years and they still were unable to ban abortion, cut the size of government, restore school prayer or lower taxes without increasing spending. 

But one of the keynote speakers is a little surprising; former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, described in the CPAC’s press release as a “Protector of Individual Freedoms.”  Perhaps we can ask disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff about Reed’s effectiveness in this area.

Here’s what has to say about Reed went he was hosting an August 2008 fundraising for GOP presidential hopeful John McCain:

“Reed lost his 2006 campaign for Georgia lieutenant governor in large part because of details about his relationship with Abramoff — much of the information uncovered by McCain’s Indian Affairs Committee investigation into the wide-ranging lobbying corruption scandal.

The Senate probe discovered $4 million in payments Reed accepted to run a bogus anti-casino campaign aimed at reducing gambling competition. An Indian tribe with a competing casino made payments to Reed, which according to the Senate investigation’s final report, were “passed through” Abramoff’s firm, Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, and another organization, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.

On the campaign trail, McCain often touts his work tackling Abramoff’s corrupt lobbying practices as evidence of his commitment to cleaning up Washington and a straight-shooting style that transcends politics.”

McCain got about $1.75 million from the Reed fundraiser.  And so much for principles.  A tad hypocritical of the Arizona Republican.  Or is Reed the bigger hypocrite here?

Then, there’s this 2006 article from the Wall Street Journal:

But other Republicans once close to Mr. Reed aren’t satisfied with his explanation of his role in Mr. Abramoff’s work. Maurice Atkinson, a Christian Coalition activist, quit the Reed campaign after the scandal became public and signed up with Mr. Cagle. “Nobody likes to be a hypocrite and nobody likes to follow a hypocrite,” he says.

Erosion of support from religious activists could signal trouble for Mr. Reed as he heads into the primary’s home stretch. The pastor of his church has teamed up with Richard Lee, senior pastor of the First Redeemer Church, a large Southern Baptist church in Atlanta’s Republican suburbs, to organize a get-to-know-you session with hundreds of other pastors. Asked if the Abramoff scandal is likely to come up, Mr. Lee said: “I would think so.”