After avoiding the issue as long as possible, the mainstream media has finally been forced to pay attention to the crimes of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, better known as ACORN. An umbrella organization of multifarious local radicals, pressure groups, activists, and extreme liberals, ACORN's current claim to notoriety rests on its nationwide operation of registering voters.
There's nothing inherently wrong with registering the unregistered. There is, however, both a moral and a legal responsibility on the part of whoever is doing the registering to at least attempt to make sure the registrations are valid. Registrations supplied by ACORN, however, seem to have not only a large number of bogus applicants, they appear to be ostentatiously bogus.
Applications supplied by ACORN to local registration boards in just the last year include such luminaries as Mickey Mouse, the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, and various other famously fictitious and ineligible personages. What's more, Lou Dobbs' team on CNN reported that the stacks of registration forms they observed were "obviously fraudulent", with every one filled out in the same pen, same handwriting, and signed with the same illegible signature.
With ACORN claiming 1.3 million registrations, and even a cursory examination of the forms finding vast numbers, if not the majority, to be fraudulent, it's no surprise that the FBI has raided ACORN offices in 11 states so far, and a racketeering lawsuit has been filed against ACORN in Ohio.
The McCain campaign is now clinging to this growing scandal with a death-grip. After all, voting fraud is just about the worst political offense there is, and Obama's ties to ACORN are both wide and deep. In this election he paid $800,000 to ACORN-affiliated groups for get-out-the-vote efforts; he worked as a trainer for ACORN in the 1990s; and he represented ACORN in a lawsuit regarding voter registrations against the State of Illinois.
Americans ought to care, very much, about the appearance that someone is trying to steal an election. Bush won re-election by a mere half-million votes; it's not at all implausible to suppose that ACORN has put in more than that many phony registrations.
Something about this situation is more than a little odd, however. The phony registrations are so ostentatiously blatant and the links between Obama and ACORN so crystal clear, it's hard to imagine that anyone seriously expected Obama to be able to literally steal an election this way.
Democrats have a long tradition of election fraud, from Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall ring in 19th-century New York City, through Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's theft of the election for JFK through extensive Cook County fraud, right down to the activities of ACORN. With all this experience over two centuries, though, they certainly ought to know how to not only do it successfully, but to get away with it.
It doesn't take a Harvard degree to know that sending in thousands of identical voter registrations in the exact same handwriting and ink color looks fishy; how hard is it to switch between a half-dozen different pens and vary the writing just a bit?
It's possible that Obama's fraudsters and dirty-tricks team at ACORN got overconfident and figured that the media would cover for them. But while the media has carried a lot of water for Obama in this campaign, they do serve a higher god: that of ratings. A scandal like this is far too juicy to expect total silence; somebody would break the story, and then everybody would have to, as indeed has happened.
The only possible result of this escapade is a collapse of confidence in our electoral system. Democrats have been claiming without evidence that Republicans plan to steal elections via fancy programming and hacking of the Diebold voting systems. These systems certainly have problems which ought to be addressed, but there's no evidence of any sort of fraudulent Republican conspiracy.
Now we have hard evidence of a massive, nationwide, Democratic election-fraud conspiracy affecting potentially hundreds of thousands of votes. How could anyone have confidence in the result?
And that's precisely the point. Don't be fooled by the loaded polls showing Obama 14 points up. This is still a close election, as this scandal demonstrates.
Democrats, and their allies in the media, are taking steps to undermine voter confidence in the system itself - so that if, somehow, things don't go their way, they will be able to cast a permanent shadow over McCain's legitimacy as they did so successfully with George W. Bush. Tails, they win; heads, we lose.
What about the cost to the country of this ongoing erosion of belief in the system? Well, we've already seen what happens when people stop believing in our economy: it dies. Democrats and the media are now using the same techniques to undermine our faith in democracy itself.
Will the result be the same? We'll soon find out.