Paul Greenberg

Not that folks with an iPhone, complete with camera app, need be reminded, but it's definitely a visual age. Which could explain why it's a vulgarized one. Nothing can be hinted at any longer, it must be shown. Preferably in stark lighting. Which may explain the long decline and sudden fall of ACORN.

It's scarcely been a secret all these years that ACORN has been an ongoing scandal. It's been involved in so many cases of fraudulent voter registration, I've lost count of how many of its people have been hauled up on charges. The last estimate I saw was something like 70 of its employees in 12 different states. Yet only now has it moved to the center of public indignation. What took so long?

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In a way, ACORN's behavior is supposed to be outrageous. Founded right here in Arkansas, it's very business is community-organizing, protest-planning, and tantrum-throwing. For it strives to follow Saul Alinsky's classic guide to agitation for fun and profit. And it could have gone merrily on its scandalous way if some of its mischief hadn't been captured on film.

Last year ACORN became a highly unofficial arm of the Obama campaign. And was duly rewarded for its help by all kinds of government grants, which is how politics works. Not that you'll find it in Aristotle, but one working definition of politics is the art and science of who gets what when, where and how.

When the Republicans come back into power, if ever, look for some of the folks who are now prominent in Tea Party protests to be rewarded with their own government jobs and/or grants.

But a funny thing happened to ACORN on its way to collect its share of the spoils. A couple of visual provocateurs took videos of some not-so-funny goings-on in ACORN offices. The results would have made Borat, aka the satirist Sacha Baron Cohen, envious.

There, faithfully recorded on film, were our high-minded, socially advanced, ever so idealistic liberators of the proletariat at ACORN telling these actors playing a prostitute and her pimp how to beat the law and cheat the taxpayers.

This scandal might have been small potatoes compared to, say, the Abramoff Rip-Off a while back, which came to light during a different administration. But this outrage caught the country's ever-fickle attention. Why? Because it was filmed. Moral of the story: Film validates.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.