A Bad Reed

I walked into work last week and felt like throwing up. This has happened a few times in the past, usually caused by the poisonous residue of the previous night’s irresponsible behavior—too much booze, dinner at some iffy sushi buffet, or watching Clay Aiken’s Christmas special because I thought it might be campy fun. But I’d drink bathtubs of cheap hooch, chew whole schools of raw fish, and send Clay’s mom some cute little Ziggy card to apologize for being such a bully if it meant someone could promise me that the nation’s most powerful company was not taking a hard right turn off the road of good intentions. If anyone managed not to lose their lunch after the news that Microsoft is paying Ralph Reed $20,000 a month, I can only assume that they have decidedly stronger, and fundamentally more nonsecular, stomachs than I.

On the off chance that you’re one of many American widowers currently at Walt Disney World with a child who’s valiantly fighting off lupus until Extreme Makeover: Home Edition can finish turning your kitchen countertops into functioning Foosball tables, let me be the first to inform you that dark and dangerous deeds have been occurring while you’ve been distracted. Following the announcement that Microsoft was suddenly pulling its longtime support for gay civil rights legislation, it was revealed that, in addition, the company had hired the ominously titled Century Strategies, led by ex–Christian Coalition enforcer Reed, for what the software giant’s spokesperson Mark Murray refers to as advice on “trade and competition issues.”

Now, I might be willing to believe that Microsoft, despite its ersatz devotion to the arts and other pseudo-liberal Seattle causes, is only ignorantly exercising its usual appetite for world domination with a savvy drop-in-the- bucket donation to Century Strategies. Hey, if a beady-eyed little nut job like Reed is the quickest way to be spoon-fed Republican dollars, well then, it doesn’t take too much effort to look the other way when Ralph says his prayers before the corporate power lunch. But I will never be ready to accept it if, once notified of how distasteful it is to hire a gnomish fundamentalist demon for fiscal consultation, the company won’t pull its paychecks out from underneath Reed’s muddied cloven hooves. Century Strategies’ Web site boasts of its ties to Dubya’s presidential campaign as well as Reed’s Christian Coalition successes, while promising “a number of valuable services to its clients in the business and corporate community who face a challenging and sometimes confusing public affairs environment.” Call me paranoid, but I read that as “we’ll take care of noisy fags, annoying feminists, and anyone who can’t understand why the Bush girls get to party while the rest of us are supposed to stay at home watching Joan of Arcadia.”

My friends, it’s time to get angry and stay that way. Unless you want to see a mighty corporation download devout right-wing strategies for this new century, you need to quit dialing American Idol‘s 900 number and drop several more decisive votes on billg@microsoft.com. Tell Mr. Gates that, while you can imagine how lonely life at the top must be, you’d rather he not rub shoulders with people trying to keep the rest of us at the bottom.