Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain Sang A Different Tune About ACORN in 2006

"What makes America special is what's in this room tonight," said John McCain on February 20, 2006.

Where did he say it? At an ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) Immigration Rally in Miami. (McCain speaks at 1:40 in the video above.)

Now the McCain campaign is trying to associate Barack Obama with voter fraud perpetrated by some ACORN employees. What's going on here?

Obama represented the group in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois for not implementing a law making it easy for the poor to register to vote. In this effort, ACORN was partnered with the Justice Department. The plaintiffs won the case. During the current presidential campaign, some ACORN employees, who are paid by the hour, have turned in phony names.

Naturally, the Republicans and their minions are trying to make it seem as if there is a grand conspiracy between the Obama campaign and ACORN. Obama said on Tuesday that he doesn't need ACORN's help in voter registration: “We’ve got the best voter registration and turnout and volunteer operation in politics right now, and we don’t need ACORN’s help.”

Obama's work as a community organizer gives him some insight into what has happened with ACORN:

“My understanding in terms of the voter fraud — because having run a voter registration drive, I know how problems arise — this is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations, and these folks, not wanting to actually register people because that’s actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid.

“So there’s been fraud perpetrated probably on ACORN, if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations, but this isn’t a situation where there’s actually people who are going to try to vote, ‘cause these are phony names...so this is another one of these distractions that gets stirred up in the course of a campaign."

“But, what I want to make sure of is that this is not used as an excuse for the kind of voter suppression strategies and tactics that we’ve seen in the past. Let’s just make sure everybody is voting, everybody’s registered. Let’s make sure that everybody’s doing it in a lawful way.”

Ken Whalen, Acorn spokesman, stated that the group had dealt decisively with wrongdoers:

“Out of 13,000 workers there were inevitably a few who decided they’d pad their hours by duplicating a card and filling out another one or making up a name.

“If we discovered this, we not only turned that information over but turned the information we had about that former employee – because they’d been fired by that point – to elections officials and asked for their help in prosecuting that person.”

Obama also knows what he's talking about when he speaks about voter suppression. Republicans have a history of using the relatively minor instances of voter fraud to suppress the votes of people that they feel won't vote the right way-literally. In an editorial, "Phony Fraud Charges" (3/16/07), The New York Times focused on the Justice Department's scandalous purging of U.S. attorneys who refused to play ball with the Bush administration on, among other issues, vote suppression:

John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicans to bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor’s race, which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicans were trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKay refused to go along. “There was no evidence,” he said, “and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.”

Later, when he interviewed with Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel, for a federal judgeship that he ultimately did not get, he says, he was asked to explain “criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor’s election.”

Mr. McKay is not the only one of the federal attorneys who may have been brought down for refusing to pursue dubious voter fraud cases. Before David Iglesias of New Mexico was fired, prominent New Mexico Republicans reportedly complained repeatedly to Karl Rove about Mr. Iglesias’s failure to indict Democrats for voter fraud. The White House said that last October, just weeks before Mr. McKay and most of the others were fired, President Bush complained that United States attorneys were not pursuing voter fraud aggressively enough.

There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers’ licenses — who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities — to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state.

It must be emphasized that phony names don't represent anyone who's actually going to affect the vote one way or another. In addition, despite the illegal actions of some workers, ACORN has managed to register 1.3 million low income, minority and young voters. They've been brought into the democratic process. That's the opposite of what has long been Republican strategy. John McCain might consider the different motivations of his party and his former allies at ACORN.


quakerdave said...

Words cannot express the depths to which I do not give a flying fudgebar about this so-called "issue."

This is a huge smokescreen created by a bunch of desperate folks who have not a clue.

Anyone who listens to this nonsense should be stripped of their right to vote, on the grounds that they are too stoopid to function as a human person any longer.

Geez louise.

Jeff Tone said...

I agree that it's a huge smokescreen put forth by the clueless. Still, it has to be countered by the facts before they make the rest of the population clueless through this phony issue.

yanjiaren said...

All the generic foot in mouth syndrome spouted by the Palin camp is to keep every one hoodwinked from the real issues

Jeff Tone said...

You are right, Yanjiaren. Palin is the most blatant element of a campaign that lurches from one invented issue to another in order to avoid talking about the real ones.