It’s time to cut the usual election-year BS and speak the truth.
To start with, let’s admit one thing off the bat. Even if (as almost all non-partisan observers say) few if any of the phony, “Mickey Mouse-Donald Duck” type registrations that the Acorn organization collects actually show up as fraudulent voters trying to cast illegal ballots, there is still something that feels shoddy and basically distasteful about paying temporary canvassers based on a quota for registering voters. It cheapens the dignity of the democratic process and provides an incentive for padding lists with fake registrations that have to be cleaned out or worried about later on.
In fact, if the McCain campaign and the US Department of Justice had raised complaints about this particular method of registration last winter or spring, a lot of deeply partisan democrats might not have gone out of their way to help them but would privately have admitted that they had a point.
And the McCain campaign and the DOJ had plenty of time to raise this issue. Acorn has been doing this kind of “pay for results” registration for many years now – and has been investigated by the DOJ before – and it was abundantly clear by last February-March that this year would see a massive increase in new voter registration.
But the sudden dramatic intrusion of the FBI into an election just 19 days before Election Day and just one day after the candidate of the political party currently in control of the FBI and DOJ makes new and inflammatory accusations of voting fraud against his opponent is something far more troubling. It’s a nightmare scenario for anyone who cares about the American system of government.
Let’s say it simply – America is not a one-party state. The people in the federal law enforcement and criminal justice systems are supposed to stay out of politics – not work to support the party in power. There are specific rules and long-standing institutional traditions in the DOJ against publically announcing a major political investigation during the last few days of an election campaign.
This is not just an issue for latte-sipping liberals and ACLU types. You ask average heartland of America guys – the big burly guys with the Vietnam-Vet baseball hats and “Don’t Tread on Me” or “Live Free or Die” tea shirts and they will tell you without hesitation:
“Now don’t get me wrong – I love my country – 1,000 percent. But I don’t always trust the federal government to do the right thing. I don’t like it anytime the government starts launching prosecutions that smell like they are politically motivated. This time it might be a guy like Obama who I don’t like worth a damn, but next time it could be Ron Paul or Bob Barr or even me because they don’t like the way I think. When the FBI or Department of Justice starts using the police power of the state to play partisan politics, that’s a dangerous first step toward tyranny and losing all our individual liberty and individual rights.”
If you don’t believe that Middle America is full of guys who think and feel this way, you haven’t been out there lately. You may not like what they say about gun control, but they genuinely care about the constitution and the bill of rights
Up to now McCain has used the “maverick” label to imply he would not continue the Bush Administrations partisan subversion of the DOJ and other federal agencies. But his decision to endorse the FBI investigation and link his campaign to it without a single word of concern about the dangerous violation of political neutrality the last-minute FBI investigation entails catastrophically shatters this presumption. It firmly allies him with the many remaining political appointees in the DOJ who were selected by Monica Goodling – the arrogant right-wing imitation of a classic 1950’s Soviet political commissar who purged all political opponents, demanded that DOJ employees prosecute political enemies or be dismissed and forced applicants for non-partisan jobs to answer illegal propaganda questions like “What is it about George Bush that makes you want to serve him?”
Republicans will argue that the DOJ is just doing its job or that their actions are just a normal part of “hardball” politics. Dems, however, can fairly reply “Well maybe in a third world banana republic or a 1950’s Soviet-controlled country they are, but this is America. We do it different here.”
McCain likes to argue that “I’m not George Bush”. But Dems can fairly reply “No, but the DOJ will obviously be run in exactly the same, repulsive way that it was during the Bush administration.”
In fact, it’s actually ironic. The last-minute intrusion of the FBI into the 2008 campaign actually gave John McCain the ideal opportunity to show that he really would be a different kind of Republican from George W. Bush. Instead, he used the opportunity to show that he will be exactly the same.