(Boston) While the world watched the fraudulent Iranian elections by chance I found myself here in the historic capital of American election fraud.

Just a few steps from Boston’s City Hall the Union Oyster House has been a favored haunt of local politicians since Colonial times. As we sampled the culinary delights of this Beantown landmark my companion- a wryly self-described “humble servant of the people”- noted that two centuries earlier Governor Elbridge Gerry had enjoyed similar fare here. It was he who invented “gerrymandering”, a method of redistricting now institutionalized in every state as the most successful form of election fraud in American history.

Through the years Boston continued to invent, refine and export to grateful imitators nationwide many new breakthroughs in election fraud. One of the most productive was creating the key patronage post of Cemetery Commissioner said official being responsible not just for mowing the grass above the graves but much more importantly insuring that those loyal Democrats beneath the grass were not deprived of their right to vote “early and often” every election day.

While stealing votes outright was more cost effective sometimes it was necessary to buy them. Even then these thrifty New Englanders deplored wasteful spending. Jack Kennedy’s grandfather Boston Mayor “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald insisted that the “Machine never bought more votes than actually required”. In another context his son-in-law Joe Kennedy sternly told a Chicago alderman that he “wasn’t paying for a landslide”.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ignored these counsels of moderation, apparently being quite willing to pay for a landslide and/or steal more votes than actually required.

The initial U.S. response to this self-evident fraud was somewhere between an embarrassment and a disgrace (when you sound less tough than the Europeans you know you’ve dropped the ball badly). Waffling between saying it didn’t matter who won the election and being fearful of accusations of “meddling” Obama and company demonstrated once again why foreign and national security policy has been the Achilles Heel of the Democratic party for over forty years.

In its obsequiousness Obama’s expression of gratitude to “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Khamenei for his willingness to look into irregularities in a few precincts rivaled the notorious bow to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Amazingly none of this qualified as the week’s top example of U.S. spinelessness. After North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-IL defiantly announced that he was (A) weaponizing his nuclear stockpile, (B) conducting further tests of his Hiroshima sized bomb, and (C) scheduling tests of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S., the Obama Administration announced it would adhere to a new “get tough” policy proposed by Chinese and Russians at the United Nations.

The heart of the policy involves intercepting North Korean vessels suspected of carrying nuclear presents to friends like Syria or Iran and asking permission to board and search; however if they say no, that’s O.K. too.

When loony right-wingers in Congress questioned the adequacy of this response the Administration gave further evidence of its resolve by announcing that if North Korea persists in its’ nuclear naughtiness in next year’s budget we may refuse to make further cuts to Missile Defense spending beyond these already included in this year’s budget.

Right now, if you’re keeping score the old “axis of Evil” – Syria, Iran, and North Korea-is definitely ahead on points. Obama’s much hyped but pathetic speech in Cairo (“America is one of the largest Muslim nations; my daddy was a Muslim”) clearly signaled he isn’t going to fuss too much when Iran inevitably gains full nuclear power status. As noted above he’s O.K. with letting Russia and China via the UN set the limits of U.S. toughness with North Korea.

The only member of the “Axis” who’s even been scored upon in this contest is Syria and that only because the Israelis who know a threat when they see one helpfully bombed that country’s rising nuclear facility flat.

The Boston Globe (owned by the N.Y. times since 1994 and hopefully soon going bankrupt) was “deeply troubled by this unilateral Israeli action” and this week even had the effrontery to editorially call on Obama to “oblige Netanyahu to rearrange his governing coalition to be more in accord with U.S.. policy toward the Palestinians”.

What’s wrong with this picture? A lot, and the price of folly may be exacted sooner than we think.


William Moloney is a former Colorado Education Commissioner and now a Centennial Institute Fellow. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News.