Barack Obama is running to win the Democratic primaries. He is not running to be President. He is incoherent on policy, has only one vote of any significance where he varies from HRC (and even that is an assertion, not a vote), and is putting more energy into stage management than into demonstrating why he should be entrusted with the presidency. Most of all, he is basing his campaign on running against his own party. That may endear him to netroots bloviators like Markos, but it leaves long-time liberals like me cold.Since then, far more serious sets of shenanigans have come to light.
First, it appears it is very easy to caucus in Iowa. You don't have to belong to the party holding the caucus (Republicans can go to Democratic caucuses and vice-versa), you don't have to be a registered voter, you do not need to be 18 that day and, evidently, you do not even need to be a legal resident of Iowa:
all citizens can participate as long as they sign a voter registration card, attesting to residency in the precinct and show that they'll be 18 by the general election.So, what's the problem? Barry Obama's penchant for importing supporters from other states.
He's gone on a major offensive to get Illinois residents attending college in Iowa (college students being a key demographic for him) to attend caucuses and vote for him. This is raising hackles in Iowa among some people because these students may in fact be registered to vote in Illinois and many will not be resident in Iowa after the current academic term. It is not very classy, but the students are currently in residence, and its possible they may vote in Iowa in the general. So, aggravating, but within bounds.
The newest rumors coming out, however, are that he is encouraging Illinois residents who do not and have no intention of living in Iowa to cross state lines the evening of the caucus and pretend to be living there (or attaching themselves to family who live there, such as a grandparent or a cousin) simply to cast a caucus vote. He is hitting up late teens (17 and 18 year olds) in particular, probably because they are dazzled by him, don't have much judgment and will go along with the trick.
Dumb, Barry. Really dumb.
According to the USA Today article I linked to (you can also look at this NPR article which says pretty much the same thing), it is evidently even easier to pack the polls in New Hampshire than in Iowa. Whoda thunk it? There also is commentary about the Republicans complaining about the lax standard for allowing participation and the likelihood of voter fraud.
This year, New Hampshire Democrats pushed through a change that some Republicans contend would enable campaigns to bus in people who could cast a ballot and then vote again in their real home states. "You can vote in New Hampshire without being a resident," said Republican state Sen. Bob Clegg. "You can vote in the primary because you someday may want to live here."And therein lies the rub.
The real issue is not that Obama will flood Iowa with pimply teens to overwhelm the choices of the good matrons of Pisgah. It can probably only work in those precincts that already safely support him, and that doesn't gain him any advantage. The issue is the incredibly ham-fisted and crude way in which the Obama campaign is trying to manipulate the vote by packing the caucuses the same way he has been packing audiences, and how the Republicans will make use of it when playing the race and illegal cards next November. This is a pattern of bad judgment.
Think like Karl Rove for a minute. (But don't forget to scrub your brain with bleach afterwards.) Vote fraud is one of their perennial hits with the public. In the South, it is a code for keep the blacks from voting. In the Sunbelt, it is a code for keep the hispanics from voting. I live in San Diego and our candidate, Francine Busby, lost her race and probably any hope of electoral office in any capacity by accidently telling a (legal) immigrant that he didn't have to be a citizen to "participate". She corrected herself on the spot, saying she meant he could work for a campaign, but it was still used by Brian Bilbray to say she had told illegals to vote.
It is a virulent and effective meme, and something the Bush Justice Department's Voting division has turned into an article of faith, that Democrats are purposefully allowing illegal aliens, convicted felons and other invalid people to vote. They have used this BS argument to justify purging voter rolls of eligible voters. It is part of their larger effort to disenfranchise the Democratis base as such.
So in stomps Barry Obama, loudly trumpeting how he is going to pack the Iowa caucuses with people from Illinois just like he has packed various dinners and forums and appearances with his bused in Illinois believers. As an added bonus, we have the specter of a black man busing his supporters into "white" areas to overwhelm the "real" citizens. Um, I don't think that is going to win over a lot of wavering Republicans, to be honest. I don't care if the perception is racist, retograde and just plain fucked up - it is how the Republicans will dog-whistle it.
What is the one issue every blogger of note has said is dangerous for Democrats? Illegal immigration, which is the main way Republicans are trying to expand their racist appeals (see everything Paul Krugman has written on the southern shift in voting, and my recent post Masked Racism), is going to be a field of IEDs for whomever wins the Democratic nomination. Obama has shot his mouth off about illegal immigrants and drivers licenses and is now showing his approval for voting hanky-panky in the pursuit of electoral success.
On one level, it is a self-defeating act, because he doesn't really have that much support and faking out votes in thte primary covers up weakness for the general. But on another, more improtant level, he has just handed his ass - and that of every other Democratic candidate - to the Republicans on the voting fraud issue. The story in the general is how the Democrats were manipulating the votes in the primaries and that they are going to pack the polls with illegal immigrant voters in November.
So, Barry Obama is joyfully embracing questionable voting practices and setting up the eventual Democratic nominee for a beating by the race-baiting Rovians.