On the right, ACORN paranoia never dies

Michelle Malkin worries about President Obama's first nominee to the federal bench, who worked for the liberal group 30 years ago.

Published March 23, 2009 6:45PM (EDT)

Think of the edges of the political spectrum as being something like Purgatory: Once an idea ends up there, it might eventually go mainstream, it might eventually die, but first it hangs out at those edges for a good long while. This is the story of the seemingly eternal fascination the right has with ACORN.

As you might recall, the liberal group was the subject of a series of wildly overblown stories  during last fall’s campaign. Republicans spent a fair amount of time attacking the organization, claiming, essentially, that Democrats were sneaking bailout money to ACORN in return for its yeoman work in rigging the election for Barack Obama.

Despite the fact that none of this turned out to be true, some imaginary monsters are apparently too good to let die. (ACORN is a kind of higher-end version of the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory, in this sense.) The community organizing group showed up in the news yet again last week, when President Obama nominated Indiana District Court Judge David Hamilton to the federal appellate court bench.

The right threw a fit over Hamilton after discovering that he’d once worked as a “fundraiser for ACORN,” as Wendy Long put it at National Review Online. Much of the conservative commentariat followed Long’s lead, and pretty soon people like Long and the American Spectator’s Matthew Vadum were calling Hamilton Obama’s “payback” to ACORN, and saying he was “ACORN’s judge.” (Hat-tip to Steve Benen.)

As it turns out, Hamilton had in fact been a canvasser for ACORN. For a month. He took the job soon after he graduated from college -- in 1979.

The appropriate thing to do in this scenario might be to beat a hasty retreat. To err is human, after all, and everybody gets a little overheated sometimes. But that’s the amazing thing about the fervently held belief some conservatives have when it comes to ACORN: The group is never, ever innocent, and neither is anyone with any connection to it.

And now, even though the notion of “payback” makes no sense on either end -- Obama doesn't owe ACORN anything, and if he did, the Hamilton appointment is a pretty weak excuse for a favor -- Michelle Malkin still can’t let it drop.

Today, Malkin put up a blog post, complete with mocked-up Obama campaign logo redrawn around an acorn. In it, she complains,

An ACORN fund-raiser on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals?

I’m kidding, right?


Purgatory is a depressing place.

By Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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