Thursday, October 23, 2008



What's the Old Saying About Familiarity Breeding Contempt?

Barack Obama may be swimming in campaign cash, but he still wants to charge reporters for the privilege of covering his Election Night activities at Grant Park in Chicago.

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Mr. Obama's campaign sent a memo saying the price for access to the media area, where electrical power will be available, will be between $715 and $1,815 depending on how many phone lines and power outlets are granted. Reporters who want to cover Obama campaign officials and interview them will have to gain access to a "Press File" tent for an additional $935 per person for admission.

Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, called the price list "an outrageous pay-to-play plan that caters to national elite [media] outlets." She noted that many reporters don't have extensive phone and electrical needs and yet will be priced out of covering Mr. Obama on Election Night.

Mr. Obama will certainly be getting the lion's share of votes from reporters who cover his campaign, but that doesn't make his media operation popular. "There is an arrogance there that I hope doesn't carry forward to any Obama White House," one reporter who travels frequently with the candidate told me. "But all the signs of trouble are already there."

-- John Fund

Bellwethers No More?

Missouri is widely referred to as the premier bellwether state in presidential politics, having voted for the winning candidate in 25 out of 26 elections from 1904 to 2004. But Missouri isn't the only state with a remarkable record of voting with the majority of the country. Tennessee voted for the eventual winner in all but two elections between 1912 and 2004 -- its only aberrations coming in 1960 when it voted for Richard Nixon and 1924 when it chose John Davis over Calvin Coolidge.

While recent polling shows Missouri in play for both candidates this year, it's already clear which direction Tennessee is leaning -- away from Barack Obama, whom national polling indicates is favored to be the next president.

"The state seems poised to lose its status as a bellwether state this year," says Mark E. Byrnes, a political scientist at Middle Tennessee State University. "Barack Obama trails in Tennessee and few observers give him much chance of winning here. In general, the state appears to be trending more Republican, in part because of rapid population growth in white-collar suburban communities."

Franklin D. Roosevelt and other Democrats consistently won Tennessee in the first half of the 20th century. But after 1952 the only Democrats the state has supported for president have been those from south of the Mason-Dixon line. "The Democratic presidential candidates who have carried Tennessee in recent decades have been Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Southern moderates," Mr. Byrnes points out. "Candidates who appear too liberal, like Obama -- or even native son Al Gore in 2000 -- have difficulty here."

Should both Missouri and Tennessee end up voting for the loser in 2008, it may be just another sign that a dramatic realignment of U.S. politics is underway.

-- Kyle Trygstad,

Running Away from ACORN

The scandal involving the left-wing group ACORN keeps growing. Investigations of its voter registration efforts are being conducted in a dozen states, there is an active FBI probe at the national level and yesterday an internal report by ACORN's own lawyer indicated that the group may have mixed charitable donations with "impermissible" partisan political activities.

It's no surprise then that some figures who normally would defend ACORN are distancing themselves from the group. Last weekend on Fox News, former ACORN workers Mercedes Maggit and Freddie Johnson revealed how they and other workers would hand out cigarettes and dollar bills to people who agreed to be registered -- a clear violation of election law.

Afterwards, even Rev. Al Sharpton appeared to say he wasn't sure who was most at fault for the problems with ACORN. "We have to make sure there is no voting fraud here and there is no impediments to voting," he said. "I think people across party lines should stand together for the integrity of voting."

Rev. Sharpton also noted that a scandal such as that surrounding ACORN "makes people more cynical and distrustful of the whole voting system. One of the things we have struggled with in many communities is getting people to register and vote at all."

Many outside groups have properly registered voters this year, and their efforts are to be commended. But ACORN's activities cast a shadow over the operations of all groups participating in the political process, which is why everyone should be interested in getting to the bottom of the ACORN scandal.

-- John Fund


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