Thursday, October 28, 2004

The stupendously unedifying display of a U.S. presidential election is now coming down to its last whoop-whoop, its last gross deceit, its last idiotic accusation. Naturally, once again a black cat news story has, of a sudden, leaped across the path of the Republican candidate, hexing his chances at the polls and sending him into eternal ignominy. That, at least, is the hope of the Democrats and their loyal secretarial staff in the media, both of whom gin up these black cat stories. The stories themselves are always highly exaggerated scandals heavily larded with the irrational and intended to stir up the moron vote. This story claims that vast amounts of explosives were left unguarded after being discovered by the Bush administration in Iraq and are now under the control of hostile forces that only John Kerry can thwart.

Similar last-minute black cat stories hexed the elder President Bush at the end of Campaign ‘92, when Iran-Contra counsel Lawrence Walsh, on Oct. 30, re-indicted former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The story contained a treacherous leak that Mr. Bush had lied when he claimed to have been “out of the loop” on Iran-Contra. Another famous last-minute black cat story leaped across Gov. George Bush’s path to the White House in the last days of Campaign 2000. It claimed that the Republican candidate faced a DUI charge back in his hell-raising days. That supposedly put the hex on him with the evangelical vote, and maybe it did.

The present black cat story comes from CBS (of doctored documents fame) and the New York Times (of Jayson Blair fame). It claims that the invading U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division failed to secure 380 tons of explosives that it came across at the Al-Qaqaa munitions depot en route to laying siege to Baghdad. Supposedly, the deadly stuff is now in enemy hands. “This is one of the great blunders, one of the great blunders of this administration,” now shouts Mr. Kerry at the beginning of every speech on the campaign trail. He shouts this despite the fact that other reporters embedded with the U.S. soldiers who first arrived at the al-Qaqaa munitions depot did not see the “380 tons” and the Pentagon denies the materials were there.

Nonetheless, the candidate, who promises the American people that on “the good days and the bad days… I will always be straight with you,” continues to spread this disputed story as though it were unassailable fact. But then this is the same candidate who has just been exposed as a liar for claiming repeatedly that he met with the “entire” U.N. Security Council in October 2002 before the U.N. authorized force in Iraq. The Washington Times exposed that falsehood, noting that in his second debate with President Bush Mr. Kerry crooned, “I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them.” The statement is as demonstrably false as his claim in the final presidential debate that he passed 56 bills during his Senate career. He was responding to the president’s claim that he had only passed five bills. The correct figure is 11, including two declaring “world population awareness week” and something about saving the dolphins, or was it the dauphin?

One wonders how long the Massachusetts braggart will lead off his campaign speeches with this bogus story. For that matter, how long will he claim that Republican poll watchers are “suppressing” the black vote?

This brings us to the really disturbing aspect of this election, the possibility of widespread voter fraud and the Democrats’ efforts to institutionalize voter fraud. As John Fund has written in “Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy” — the most important political book of this campaign — voter fraud expanded from being a local problem to being a national threat to democratic governance with the 1993 passage of the “Motor Voter Law.” With it anyone anywhere in the United States was offered voter registration upon applying for welfare, unemployment compensation or renewal of a driver’s license. Proof of citizenship or identifications was not necessary. Also permitted was mail-in voter registration, and states were barred from pruning from voter rolls the deceased, the convicted and those who had moved from their districts. If you ever wondered how voting machines and the other instruments of voting became such vexed matters, this is it. Never before the “Motor Voter Law” did such vast numbers of Americans supposedly come to ruin in a voting booth.

Now we face a national embarrassment. The greatest democracy on Earth will, as the election booths close, be duly likened to a banana republic with district after district convulsed in charges of electoral fraud. That should be the news story of the hour. But no, it is rather this bogus story about, about what? Was it that Caspar Weinberger was found in the Al Qaqaa munitions depot inebriated? If CBS and the New York Times reported it, you can bet John Kerry would repeat it — and with feeling.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun and adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

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