A two-year presidential campaign has ended with a victory for the first African-American president. For the racial barrier that has been broken, we should all be thankful.
However, even as the breaking of this barrier is celebrated, we should recognize a number of troubling factors that affected the outcome of this campaign. With candidates spending two years on the campaign trail, there should hardly be a single question about any presidential candidate that would remain unanswered by our national news media. Yet, many questions were not asked of Barack Obama, and the media failed to follow up some that were.
* Has any presidential candidate ever before defended three separate lawsuits rather than produce his official birth certificate? Lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and Washington were all defended by teams of Obama lawyers, when they each could have been dismissed by a simple handing over of Mr. Obama's official birth certificate. Mr. Obama was never even asked why he was so reluctant to show proof of his status as a natural born U.S. citizen, as is required by the Constitution.
* During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008, Mr. Obama described his plan to bankrupt the U.S. Coal industry by using the most aggressive "cap and trade" policy ever employed to tax coal plants. "This will necessarily cause electric rates to skyrocket," said Mr. Obama - asserting this burden as a favorable outcome. Yet, the San Francisco Chronicle did not release this information until the final 48 hours of the campaign. Why?
* Pennsylvanians were also protected by their friends in the media from learning about the news that Mr. Obama had pledged to eliminate finding for the Osprey, the tilt-wing military aircraft manufactured at Boeing in Delaware County. This policy will cost tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians their jobs. But, it wasn't deemed important enough to be reported by the news media. Voters were denied this information which they should have had to inform their votes.
* Only after Sean Hannity of Fox News beat the drum for many months was there any mention of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko. Questions about Mr. Obama's relationships with each of these continue to be virtually unanswered, and persist as potential future embarrassments - if not worse. Americans deserved better.
* Likewise, the Los Angeles Times refused to release a videotape in its possession, which reportedly recorded a testimonial dinner to Rashid Khalidi, at which speaker after speaker called for the destruction of Israel - after which Mr. Obama spoke glowingly about the former spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Was this information not relevant to many voters?
*During the campaign, Mr. Obama was asked about his position on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, against which he voted three times as an Illinois state senator. Each time, he denied ever having voted against the bill, calling those who raised the issue "liars." Yet, his record on this issue is quite clear, and numerous sources document not only his votes but his subsequent justifications and rationalizations. Yet, no media member ever followed up his denials by referencing the record, or Mr. Obama's own words.
* For the past 36 years, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, proponents of good government have decried the influx of vast sums of money into the political process. Taxpayers were asked to check off a box on their tax returns to assist in public financing of presidential campaigns - as a safeguard against corruption. Throughout the primary season, both John McCain and Barack Obama pledged to abide by the spending limits and to allow for the public financing of their campaigns. Yet, Mr. Obama suddenly reneged on his pledge, and raised astronomical sums from undisclosed donors. Rather than honoring the $85 million limit, to which Mr. McCain complied, Mr. Obama received over $600 million. Experience tells this writer that - had a Republican made such a decision, the media would have been more vocal about the implications of such a windfall coming into the electoral process.
* Finally, at least 12 states have documented troubling voter registration irregularities by an organization called ACORN, to which Mr. Obama has a long personal association - dating back to his days as a Chicago community organizer. In Indianapolis, for example, there was a higher total for voter registrations than the entire population of that city. In Pennsylvania 237,000 registrations were sent in at the last minute, and initial checks found problems with 200,000 of them. One man was found to have registered 73 times, in exchange for alcohol and cigarettes. The FBI opened investigations into fraudulent practices by ACORN in at least 12 battleground states. Yet, not once did Mr. Obama or his supporters denounce these actions which undermine faith in our system of elections.
* On Election Day in Philadelphia, when a pair of nightstick-wielding Black Panther Party members stood in front of the polls, Peter Berson, the Assistant District Attorney in charge of Election Day complaints, said "You may not have liked it ... but he wasn't doing anything illegal. He had a night stick. I don't know why." Would this be the reaction if it had been a white supremacist? When Republican poll watchers complained of being denied access to their polling places, Mr. Berson opined, "This is Philadelphia. Nothing is out of the ordinary."
Given the obfuscation by the media, the tainted funding of the campaign, the possibility of large scale voter registration fraud across many of the battleground states, and widespread acceptance of voter intimidation and election fraud, it is difficult for some of us to share in the celebration of Mr. Obama's victory.
Let us hope for a better performance by our system, and our media watchdogs in the future. I call upon Mr. Obama to answer the troubling questions he avoided during the campaign, and to bring about reforms which prevent the hijacking of elections by organizations like ACORN, and partisan election officials in the future.
Ted Meehan can be reached at email@example.com