John McCain's statement in the debate that ACORN and the liberals are "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy" is probably the most overwrought, ridiculous statement by a major-party nominee in living memory.
If you make a charge that serious, you better have something to back it up. McCain has nothing. Nada zero zilch.
There is no evidence of any attempt to rig or steal this election. Just think about the scale of the effort it would take to do what McCain describes.
On a statewide level, you would need an army of thousands of co-conspirators willing and able to vote repeatedly and illegally just to have any hope whatsoever of altering the outcome, and according to the GOP fantasy, those thousands consist of homeless drunks and drunk addicts.
Yet out of this alleged conspiracy of thousands in which lowlife drunks and dopers play a large part, the GOP and its allies in the Justice Department and other governnment agencies can't find a single participant willing to admit to the conspiracy and cough up the truth?
To rational people, that would suggest that no such conspiracy exists. But rationality has nothing to do with it.
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There's something in the psyche of the GOP base that needs to believe they are victims of some ill-defined but clearly treacherous group plotting against them and the country. How else can they explain the fact that they're losing? It can't be because they have proved themselves incompetent at governance, or that they have lost touch with the reality of life in 21st century America. There has to be some other reason, and if there isn't they'll invent one.
In the 2006 cycle, that need was fulfilled by Moveon. org. The rightwing blogs and punditocracy couldn't utter a paragraph without weaving Moveon into their narrative somehow. It was never quite clear how Moveon could possibly do all the nefarious things it was alleged to be doing, but that uncertainty made the right-wing fantasy all the more alluring.
This year, Moveon still exists - it's still doing what it was doing before, yet the group is rarely if even mentioned. That's because ACORN has now been cast to replace it in the role of designated villain.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Ohio Republicans in their effort to try to challenge 200,000 voters. Two hundred thousand!! Republican officials fear the verdict of the American people. They fear the wrath of those Americans drawn into political participation by anger at the direction that the GOP has tried to take their country. And they are trying desperately, frantically, to try to prevent that verdict from being delivered.
Seventeen days to election day.