This column by Paul Mirengoff was published July 1, 2017 by Power Line.
President Trump has appointed our friend Hans von Spakovsky to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As with Eric Dreiband, Trump’s excellent pick to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, the liberal media is already attacking von Spakovsky.
For example, this Washington Post story begins: “President Trump on Thursday appointed a divisive conservative voting rights expert to spearhead the White House’s search into allegations of widespread fraud in the 2016 presidential election.” Many Power Line readers will view the “divisive conservative” label as a tip-off that this is a solid pick.
I wonder, though: did the Post call left-wing Obama selections like Van Jones and Tom Perez “divisive liberal figures”? Not that I recall. For many at the Post, taking a left-wing stance isn’t divisive; it’s just “speaking truth to power,” or something.
In disparaging Hans, the Post quotes two of the same “activist” attack dogs used by Politico to run down Eric Dreiband. Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says: “The only purpose behind the commission’s efforts is to encourage state officials to take action and purge voter rolls.”
Does Clarke have any evidence to support this claim? None that Post presents.
Similarly, Vanita Gupta, former head of the Civil Rights Division, asserts, again without any apparent support, asserts that “Kris Kobach [head of the Commission] and Hans von Spakovsky have had a single-minded agenda to diminish voter participation and to fight voting rights, and to make voting harder.”
For the defense of von Spakovsky, the Post turned to Christian Adams, whom it identifies, correctly, as Hans’ long-time friend and colleague. The Post easily could have obtained quotations praising Hans from people who are not close to him. But in that case, it wouldn’t have been able to cause some readers to dismiss the praise so easily.
Hans told the Post that he does not enter this role with the assumption that voter fraud is a nationwide epidemic. “I think the answer to that is what we hope to find out,” he explained. “What I would say is that I think it’s a danger to the way our democratic system works anytime people are either kept out of the polls or their vote is stolen through fraud.”
This even-handed view puts Hans way ahead of Clarke, Gupta, and the Washington Post. They believe, or at least pretend to, that voter fraud, a common phenomenon throughout American history, has essentially disappeared — either because human nature has changed, elections have become less important even as government has become vastly more consequential, or precincts dominated by one party no longer exist.
Post writers Alex Horton and Gregory S. Schneider take their own shot at Hans near the end of the article. They note that Hans’ father fled the Bolsheviks; met his future wife, a German who escaped the Soviet siege of Breslau, in a refugee camp; and emigrated to the U.S. Horton and Schneider then write:
In a Fox News column published Wednesday, von Spakovsky championed the Supreme Court’s partial upholding of Trump’s travel ban, calling it a big victory for the administration.
It appeared to be a departure from von Spakovsky’s earlier beliefs that America has a role in the world to accept refugees, like his parents.
“America is a nation where we believe in liberty and freedom, and for more than 200 years it has generously welcomed those who were fleeing tyranny, oppression, and darkness,” he wrote for the National Review in 2013.
Believing that the Court’s ruling on the travel ban is a big victory for the administration (a belief I don’t share) is not inconsistent with believing that America should generously welcome people fleeing tyranny. It’s simply a view about who won the case.
Believing that we should pause for a little while before permitting entry into America from a few countries while we review the vetting process for such visitors isn’t inconsistent with thinking we should generously welcome people fleeing tyranny, either. Generous though we might be, we need to make sure we can distinguish between who is genuinely freeing tyranny and who is coming here to harm us.
When Hans’ parents came here after World War II, terrorism wasn’t an issue. Neither was radical Islam.
But why let facts and distinctions stand in the way of a cheap shot? At the Washington Post, they seldom do.