Reed's Defeat Shows Evangelicals Getting Wise

07/27/2006 06:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I first met Ralph Reed in the early 1990s, when he was a political kingmaker as head of the Christian Coalition. By age 33, he was heralded on the cover of Time Magazine as ``the Right Hand of God,'' helping elect members of Congress and anointing presidential candidates.

We've been on panels since -- he the picture of smooth affability taking credit for morality, motherhood and apple pie, and me getting blamed for vulgar TV, scantily clad teenagers and flag burning.

But I saw Reed's veneer crack at an event in Hartford, Connecticut, last year. His rosy cheeks went ashen when he was asked about his fees (now totaling $5.3 million) from clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Back then, Reed could still galvanize millions of Christian soldiers even though he'd morphed into a wealthy Washington dealmaker. Yet multiple investigations were threatening to pull back the curtain on Abramoff. Would they also reveal the dark side of Reed's dealings, and would his soldiers start to decamp? They would and they did. Reed, 45, earlier this month lost his first election for political office.

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