Published on TheHill.com on October 15, 2008
As Obama lengthens his lead, the Republicans are praying that the election becomes close enough for the Democrats to steal. But meanwhile, ACORN, the radical community group, is becoming an embarrassment for Obama. It is not as if its shenanigans are likely to tip the result, with the Democrats so far ahead. But as it is raided by the FBI in state after state (11 so far), it is becoming identified as the electoral equivalent of Greenpeace, extremists who will stop at nothing to get their way.
What makes ACORN particularly embarrassing for Obama is that he used to be one of them. He served as general counsel for ACORN in Illinois, channeled millions to the organization from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (whose funds he distributed) and has lately spent $800,000 of his campaign money to subsidize the group’s activities. For this emolument, ACORN has registered voters 15 times over, canvassed the graveyards for votes and prepared to commit electoral fraud on a massive scale.
With friends like this, Obama doesn’t need enemies. As their radical activities make headlines every day, Obama’s intimate involvement with these radicals becomes more and more of a political liability.
The other Obama scandals have no topical relevance. The Rev. Wright no longer spews hatred from the pulpit and has apparently been persuaded to stay away from media interviews. William Ayers is likewise making himself scarce, and the Obama/Ayers relationship, whatever it may have been, is clearly in the past.
Rezko is facing sentencing in his own corruption case, but isn’t likely to turn on the one man who may acquire the power to pardon him.
But, as Election Day approaches and early balloting proceeds in many states, ACORN’s tactics will get more and more media attention. As election officials discover ACORN frauds, the association will become more injurious to Obama, particularly when it is his own campaign that is funding many of the fraudulent activities.
At the very least, the negative publicity ACORN will attract will paint Obama as a radical with questionable judgment. At the most, it might cause voters to wonder if he is not himself involved in electoral fraud.
The recent book by Wall Street Journal editor John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, discusses the prevalence of voter fraud, made newly possible by lax enforcement of laws requiring identification to vote. As Fund indicates, the motor/voter laws have encouraged waves of new voters, many of them ineligible to participate. Let us remember that eight of the Sept. 11 hijackers were registered to vote!
So ACORN is the gift that will keep on giving as its activities attract attention while Election Day nears.
But are these McCain attacks on Obama going to work? Clearly they have not so far. Obama has lower negatives than McCain and his unfavorable rating has not risen despite the avalanche of attack advertising to which he has been subjected. Possibly, voters are just inured to the attacks and disregard them. But more likely they are just distracted by the financial meltdown all around them. We have never had a presidential race, since 1944, where the contest was not the most important news in the four weeks before the election. (In 1944, the war overshadowed the election, much to the frustration of the Republican candidate, Thomas E. Dewey.) The candidates seem unable to get a word in edgewise as the financial news dominates. People follow the Dow Jones more than the Gallup, Rasmussen or Zogby polls.
If the presidential race remains an afterthought, crowded out by the financial news, Obama will waltz into the White House by a comfortable margin. But if the stock market stops its gyrations for a while and no new household name/corporation or bank goes broke, the negatives against Obama will compel attention at last.
And then the race may close swiftly and dramatically.