In a world where registering people to vote constitutes a crime but illegally pressuring your subordinates to fire your brother-in-law doesn't; where the guy who points out that violent threats scare him is stoking racial tensions but the man trying to take advantage of them is just standing up for the common [white] man; and in which the Republican Party will pay for ads slamming Obama while pushing others praising him in the hopes of re-electing a Republican Congressman, there's not a lot of reason for hope. Or, perhaps there is, as it's progress alone that people are noticing all of the bullshit. I'm not really sure, but hope-enthusiast Spencer Ackerman is less unsure than me, which is why I keep asking him back. Our morning conversation, after the jump.SPENCER: So it turns out Sarah Palin read CH yesterday, because a few hours later she sent me an email.
The left-wing activist group, ACORN, is now under investigation for voter registration fraud in a number of battleground states. ACORN's political action committee has endorsed Barack Obama and Senator Obama himself has said, "I have been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career." The Obama Campaign even paid more than $800,000 to an ACORN affiliate for "get out the vote activity." And now we find out that ACORN is suspected of voter registration fraud. But, the Obama-Biden Democrats would rather sweep these facts under the rug and use their mainstream media allies to bury this story. But we can't let that happen. We can't allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election.
(I took out all the personal stuff.) MEGAN: Well, sure, I mean, Todd doesn't need to know the rest of it. SPENCER: She might have missed our point, but it looks like today will be a Part II to yesterday: return of the race-based GOP. ACORN, of course, is a civil-rights group that, among other things, registers minority voters. In other words THOSE PEOPLE. MEGAN: Oh, Spencer, now, let's be fair, I'm sure they register white people who won't vote Republican, too. Nah, fuck that, we can be honest. The Republicans are mostly scared of the African-American ones. SPENCER: As this Washington Post piece makes clear, the charges against ACORN are bullshit, marginal, and part of a campaign to make white people afraid of Obama. Look at, for instance, this aspect of a McCain ad:
The McCain campaign also has sought to link ACORN to the financial crisis. One of the campaign's online ads says the Chicago chapter of the group was engaged in "bullying banks" to issue "risky" mortgages — "the same type of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today," the ad's narrator says.
MEGAN: Well, I think this Guardian piece goes even further, accusing Republican officials of staging a fake raid, which they did. SPENCER: Message: don't let those n****** steal the election like they stole the economy.. MEGAN: Oooh, ooh, back to Ann Coulter's meme that black people brought this economic crisis down on White America. I can't believe Republicans are actually using that. SPENCER: A fake raid? Explain. That is pure Nixonland right there. Next they'll bus in Arabs to their rallies to chant about getting out of Iraq. MEGAN: Wait, it gets better, the Guardian points out that it's vintage GWB!
As luck would have it, the Democrats have a man who, as an attorney years ago, actually had the temerity to join the US department of justice in representing Acorn in a successful lawsuit, forcing the state of Illinois to follow the law by allowing citizens to register to vote at the department of motor vehicles. What a scoundrel. That, of course, was before the department of justice, under George Bush's corrupt command, would itself become politicised by the very Republicans so desperate to keep low-income voters from voting, that they were willing to fire their own US attorneys for failing to bring phoney charges of voter fraud in key swing states like Nevada and Missouri.
SPENCER: (Nixon used to ensure that unruly hippies would be at his rallies in order to stoke the silent-majority sense of besiegement and make himself look heroic. It's all in this book you should read.) MEGAN: Well, we could try a little truth, too:
Acorn verifies the legitimacy of every registration its canvassers collect. If they can't authenticate the registration, or it's incomplete or questionable in other ways, they flag that form as problematic ("fraudulent", "incomplete", et cetera). They then hand in all registration forms, even the problematic ones, to elections officials, as they are required to do by law.. In almost every case where you've heard about fraud by Acorn, it's because Acorn itself notified officials about the fraud that's been perpetrated on them by rogue canvassers.
Emphasis mine, obviously. SPENCER: My God, this is a story tailor-made for ex-boss JMM. And, sure enough, Josh has cheat-sheet on the bullshitness of the ACORN smears. Yes, exactly. ACORN points out the errors that come with voter registration. Going after ACORN is a method of disenfranchisement. Perhaps — perhaps — that's why so many on the right have a problem with John Lewis:
Because of his civil-rights record, Mr. Lewis gets a pass from the media and his fellow politicians even when he makes incendiary comments. But with remarks like those on Saturday, he deserves to be seen less as a racial healer and more like any other politician who uses race as a sword.
MEGAN: Also, I love how Jonah Goldberg is accusing the wrong John of selling off his reputation. Ahem. SPENCER: That's the Wall Street Journal, shitting on the reputation of the one man who has done more for the actual freedom, prosperity and access to justice than any other living American. MEGAN: Right, obviously, John Lewis was totally the first one to notice anything racial going on. Well, except for me, but I am obviously out to incite racial tensions by commenting on what's obvious to most non-white people and white people who have noticed that (gasp) racism still exists in this country. SPENCER: We should push back on the idea that what Lewis said was somehow more "incendiary" than Palin saying Obama is "palling around with terrorists." Somehow it remains a greater sin to observe the racism of white people than for white people to engage in such racism. Which is where the ACORN stuff is all going: toward a narrative where YOUR election, YOUR economy, YOUR country was taken from you by by by by by those people! MEGAN: Right, because accusing someone of treason is much less incendiary than suggesting that a climate of violent words can lead to one of violent action. But it's okay, because John McCain will whip him in the debate. Yup. He's gonna whip that boyuh. SPENCER: A key aspect of that campaign is equivalence, and so McCain tells Dana Bash, absent any evidence or even an attempt at justification, that "I've heard the same things... said about me at Senator Obama's rallies." So this is the long game, the twisted process that passes for a coping mechanism from the American right, heartache and sore over losing an election just because it spent eight years plunging the country into deeper depths of chaos. MEGAN: And let's put to rest the meme that they are stopping the Ayers based attacks, while they are actually stepping them up To whit, here is the script from the original ad, which is crappy and whatever. SPENCER: Is this two ads or one? MEGAN: Amusingly, it was one ad. And here is the new ad which I had to good fortune to hear on the radio this morning, in which they have edited the script. SPENCER: "Blind Ambition." A projection? MEGAN: Totally. The new ad, though, doesn't just call him a "terrorist" they call him a "domestic terrorist." They also outright accused Obama of lying AND they call the Annenburg Foundation a "radical" group on which they served together. SPENCER: right. He lives among usssssss MEGAN: Do you think they can actually get away with calling him a viper in the grass or some such? Because, really, that was some pretty radical shit trying to help low-income schools in Chicago. SPENCER: Okay let me say something: I went to summer camp with Bill Ayers' sons. And to Zayd, Malik and Chesa, I'm really really sorry and appalled by the what the right is doing, and your revenge will come in about 20-something days. MEGAN: Well, and not to go totally off-topic, but there may be plenty of revenge to spread around. The GOP is pulling money from challengers to fund safe incumbents in House races. Including one, Lee Terry, who is running ads tying him to Obama. The GOP is paying for ads in Nebraska that portray Obama positively. SPENCER: Yes, look at the diminishing returns of Nixonland. JMart at Politico also had another telling story along those lines:
With party strategists fearing a bloodbath at the polls, GOP officials are shifting to triage mode, determining who can be saved and where to best spend their money. The Republican National Committee, growing nervous over the prospect of Democrats' winning a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, is considering tapping into a $5 million line of credit this week to aid an increasing number of vulnerable incumbents, top Republicans say.
MEGAN: Also, let us not forget, the RSCC is forced to rely on this line of credit before their own former Treasurer swindled them out of several million dollars they have yet to recover. Oh, and the anti-regulation Club For Growth that most famously tried to unseat Arlen Specter in the 2004 primary is now a successful talking point against the right-wing candidates they backed — so much so that the moderate Republican they unseated in Maryland is campaigning for the Democrat against them. They're not just eating their young anymore, they're straight up devouring each other. SPENCER: Dear Rick Perlstein, the country needs you to interpret this. Megan, you and I considered yesterday whether the GOP bottom-floor will hit when white people start voting for the party in significant numbers. But Yglesias had yesterday(ish) that white people still lean McCain, so we're clearly not there yet if so. But what about when the GOP can't get its most-promising recruits elected? Not the bottom floor, certainly, but closer to the foundation than the antenna. MEGAN: Um, was that maybe Ezra who said it? SPENCER: Ahhhh no this is Ezra riffing off Yglz. MEGAN: Ah, okay. As I said yesterday, the Republican Party has been wholly conflicted since they built the unholy coalition of the religious right and the fiscal conservatives. They built a tower on a conflicted ideological foundation, and now it's crumbling with the shifts. SPENCER: But that's been a durable coalition for many many years. I want the fracturing. We know the fault lines, but when is the earthquake? And how many more metaphors can we scramble up? MEGAN: I think we can scramble many more metaphors! But this is no Leaning Tower of Pisa, this is, in my opinion, the slow decline and they know it. The religious right wants to spend money — tons of money — on social programs and foreign wars (how many neocons do you know that can rightly claim the mantle of fiscal conservatism)? And the fiscal conservatives are supposed to want lower taxes to get less government. Bush, and the Republican Presidents before him, were able to successfully split the difference by lowering taxes and increasing spending. How can John McCain do that in this climate? How can Congressional Republicans? And independent voters are starting to finally recognize that, I think. Hell, I think fucking Republican voters aren't escaping that. SPENCER: Sure sure sure it's just that these tensions have been widely predicted to lead to the Fall Of The House Of Reagan — cf "The Conservative Crackup," The American Prospect, Fall 1990 — since before we were in junior high. I'm just saying I'll believe it when I see it happen, and I've lost all predictive capability for when it'll occur. There's something to the idea that the GOP's electoral success is predicated on the idea that it picked really strong currents in the American body politic to serve as the basis for its admittedly-idiosyncratic coalition, but the mortar here — the mayonnaise in the egg salad, since we're scrambling metaphors — is RACE. And it seems most likely to crack when the mortar loses its adhesive qualities, and I want to believe extremely badly that that will occur in a month, but my life is predicated on the sturdy principal that hopelessness is a better bet than hope, but fuck it, right? MEGAN: Well, geneticists have been saying for years that there is more variation within so-called races than between them. It looks like the same might be true with politics this year, at least for one race.