The questions that remain


There has been much debate on Obama’s executive capabilities, because few people know what 'community organizers' actually do.

This was different in the 70s when plenty of the rebelious students and hippies where active in that role. The best description was published by Tom Wolfe in his once famous book Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. Wolfe depicted inner city community organizers as radical agitators who managed to blackmail city magistrates into expanding social programmes, the proceeds of which often didn't reach the intended recipients. This later became the blueprint for third world development aid.

The US equivalent of this kind of advocacy is ACORN – the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. At the core of its agenda is wealth re-distribution through policies like minimum wages or tax justice. According to the WSJ:

It (ACORN) was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards. But the organization's real genius is getting American taxpayers to foot the bill. [Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977, its Housing Corporation alone receiving some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007.]

Given his claim to be a new kind of politician, and to transcend the old party divide, Barack Obama's close links with this organization are troubling. Apart from working for them in the 1990s and learning his political skills there:

During Obama’s tenure on the board of Chicago's Woods Fund, that body funneled more than $200,000 to Acorn. More recently, the Obama campaign paid $832,000 to an Acorn affiliate. The campaign initially told the Federal Election Commission this money was for "staging, sound, lighting." It later admitted the cash was to get out the vote. [Acorn is now under investigation for fraudulent voter registration in 13 US states.]

This is exactly the Mau-Mauing in politics which Tom Wolfe so brilliantly exposed. Change we can believe in?