(I actually can't stand this song, but I couldn't find any good pictures of stuff being unravelled…)
The US Attorney firings have brought a whole lot of things bubbling up to the surface that were supposed to stay buried. Embarrassing things about the way the Bush administration and the Republican Party do business. One of the most chilling is Karl Rove's strategy to legitimize the idea that minorities, immigrants and Democrats are engaged in widespread voter fraud, necessitating strict controls on voter registration and access to the polls.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, this did not work out at all the way Rove planned. From The Politico, of all places:
[I]n the fall of 2004, Republican operatives tucked thick folders of newspaper clippings and other fraud tips under their arms and pitched to reporters their claims that the Democrats' registration program would lead to rampant voter fraud. Their passion was clear, but their evidence was slim, consisting mostly of isolated incidents of voter registration irregularities that were handled by local police or election officials.
…[W]ith the vast federal law enforcement community acting as the new sheriff, Republicans hoped to pocket the evidence they longed for: a string of high-profile investigations and convictions.
Failure of some U.S. attorneys to pursue the final plank in that strategy now appears to have helped trigger an internal debate over whether to fire all or some of them, administration comments and e-mails suggest.
Behind the scenes, court records show, the RNC worked with state parties to send letters to newly registered voters in some states, including hotly contested Ohio. Letters returned as undeliverable were then used to create a list of voters' names to challenge at the polls on Election Day. In Wisconsin, Republicans conducted background checks on roughly 100,000 newly registered voters and trained more than 50,000 volunteers to monitor precincts or lodge challenges against voters.
Media disclosures of the Ohio and Wisconsin projects… upset and embarrassed local Republican leaders, who publicly urged an end to the program.
In other words, Rove and the RNC were gung-ho and obsessed with voter fraud, but couldn't get the USAs or local Republican parties on board. And Karl was furious.
Apparently the USAs and local politicains all knew there was no there there:
After an election [in Washington state] last year in which more than 2 million votes were cast, following much controversy, only one ballot ended up under suspicion for double-voting. That makes sense. A person casting two votes risks jail time and a fine for minimal gain. Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike.
So now I'm hoping that this leads to another one of those conversations that the Republicans really don't want to have. First it was the "Is Fox News really a legitimate news organization?" conversation. Now we could be on the verge of an "Is voter fraud a Republican scam?" conversation, with that excellent Washington Post column (which has been all over the liberal blogosphere) serving as an icebreaker.
But more than that, I'm hoping that our Congressional investigators will keep pulling this thread all the way to its end. They've uncovered Rove's frustrated desire for voter fraud convictions as one of the driving forces behind the firings – now they need to take that a step further and look into all the Republican vote-suppression efforts that the voter fraud myth has enabled. They need to ask why voter roll purges, voter IDs, and draconian restrictions on voter registration are necessary if voter fraud doesn't exist. And they need to ask whether the Republicans have deliberately fabricated evidence of voter fraud to support those policies.
I'm pretty sure the Judiciary Committee has oversight of the election process – think Conyers would like to take a swing at this?