ACORN: The Scandal That Never Was

For too many on the GOP side, winning trumps all else. Even truth and fairness.

In danger of losing its eight-year hold on the Presidency, the Republican Party has become increasingly desperate in its attacks on poor and minority groups, who have registered in increasingly large numbers this election year.  The attacks on ACORN must be understood within the context of this enfranchisement of dispossessed groups.  John Danforth, a Republican McCain ally and former senator, has publicly pressured Obama about his “special responsibility to rein in ACORN,” while VP candidate Sarah Palin decries “the Left-wing activist group ACORN [that] is now under investigation for voter registration fraud in a number of battleground states.  We cant allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election.”  Palin’s remarks are extremely revealing in light of the increased registration of the poor.  Empowerment of poor minority voters certainly does constitute a threat to the Republicans’ class war against the masses of Americans.  It’s easy to see why Palin, McCain, and company see ACORN’s efforts as theft – considering that the country’s “legitimate” voting pool is expected to be restricted to the affluent, disproportionately white minorities who benefit from the Republican Party’s class war any others who vote must be duped into supporting this class war against themselves.

Republican attacks on ACORN have been followed by vigilant action.  The FBI is now investigating ACORN and has raided its offices to try and find information of alleged fraud.  Republicans in Ohio have appealed to the Supreme Court (unsuccessfully) to grant them the power to comb through registered voter rolls, with the possibility of purging voters (remember Florida in 2000?)  whose information that includes mismatches between information provided by the registrants and information held by Ohio’s 88 counties.  Although such mismatches are often either arbitrary or the result of faulty record keeping by the state, this hasn’t stopped Republicans from seeking power to throw registered voters off the rolls.

Media discussions of ACORN have predictably followed the talking points issued by Republican Party leaders to Fox News and right-wing radio, and the rhetoric of the McCain-Palin team.  Attention has been massive, with over sixty stories alone on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC emphasizing the ACORN controversy in the two days following the third Presidential debate.  The uniformity of conservative attacks on ACORN has been rather impressive, although hardly intellectual or informative.  The editors at the Washington Times lambasted ACORN for being “either co-opted by an outside group bent on committing massive voter fraud to rig this election,” or as “itself intent on” committing fraud.  “Mr. Obama, whose campaign paid ACORN $800,000 to register voters during the primary, should be saddled with the burden of proof and take the lead in addressing the allegations.”  Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer draws attention to “Barack Obama’s long-standing relationship with the left-wing vote-fraud specialist ACORN” (Obama had worked with the group in a voter registration drive when he was a Chicago community organizer, and his campaign reportedly provided the group with money for a “get-out-the-vote” campaign).  Radio personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Prager, and Michael Medved and Fox News commentators such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity have relentlessly emphasized the ACORN issue in their programs.

Presumably, the right-wing foot soldiers in the media, who couldn’t have cared less what ACORN was doing months ago let alone describe what the acronym stood for, have now become independent experts on the organization’s negligence and duplicity in destroying democracy.  There’s only one problem with this narrative – none of it’s true. 

by Anthony DiMaggio at Counterpunch: The Scandal That Never Was

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