Fraud: "deceit, trickery . . . or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage."
The HBO movie Recount tells the story from the Democratic Party point of view that the 2000 presidential election was improperly won by George W. Bush because of the trickery of his fellow Republicans and the Supreme Court. That has been shown to be untrue by no less a source than the reliably liberal and pro-Democratic New York Times, but facts rarely influence propaganda.
Here's a better example of fraud straight from the donkey's mouth that you can bet will never be told on film. It comes courtesy of 12-term Congressman Paul Kanjorski. During a town meeting last August in his Pennsylvania district, Rep. Kanjorski made a remarkable statement about the 2006 election in which Democrats recaptured the majority. Rep. Kanjorski acknowledged that he and his fellow Democrats "sort of stretched the facts" about their intention to end the war in Iraq and bring American troops home.
A video of his remarks, now on YouTube, shows Kanjorski explaining that Democrats pushed the rhetoric about the war "as far as we can to the end of the fleet-didn't say it, but we implied it-that if we won the congressional elections we could stop the war.' Democrats also promised to bring down gas prices if they won a majority. That worked out well, didn't it?
"Now anybody who's a good student of government," continued Kanjorski in a condescending manner, "would know it wasn't true." I wonder how non-students of government felt about that insult? "But you know," he said, "the temptation to want to win back the Congress-we sort of stretched the facts."
Many politicians "stretch the facts" at some point in their careers, but this was more than that. While Republicans do the same thing on another level-like campaigning for spending cuts and then outspending Democrats when they become a majority-what Kanjorski has admitted to is outright fraud. Those who don't believe in the war, which includes some Republicans, had a right to believe that if they cast their votes for Democrats in the 2006 election, a Democratic congressional majority would end the war. Instead, while huffing and puffing about it, Democrats have continued to approve funds for Iraq and Afghanistan, attaching numerous pet pork projects. Pork covers a multitude of sins.
Some Democrats have made their careers by lying about Republicans and their attempts at necessary reforms of Social Security. My Democratic friend, Bob Beckel, likes to tell the story of his mother who lived in Florida and called him after seeing campaign commercials, which he produced, that claimed Republicans were about to eliminate Social Security. Beckel says he told her, "Mom, don't worry about it. You vote for Democrats on Tuesday and come Wednesday your Social Security will be back."
No wonder the disapproval rating of Congress is higher than it is for President Bush-76 percent disapprove of this Democratic Congress, according to both the latest Quinnipiac and Gallup surveys; 67 percent disapprove of President Bush.
In cases of fraud, the victim usually has redress in the courts. With political fraud, voters must seek redress at the polls. They should start-but not stop-with Rep. Kanjorski, who is faced with his first competitive race since 2002. But he has a lot of co-conspirators, and even one who is not a "good student of government" ought to know when he's been duped by fraudulent political practices.
-© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.