Commentary Magazine


The Silent Powers

Last week, John Conyers (D-MI), the powerful 23-term Congressman from Michigan, announced he would not be leading a probe into the organization formerly known as ACORN (Association Of Community Organizations for Reform Now) for their sundry thoroughly-documented illegalities and improprieties. Mr. Conyers explained that “the powers that be decided against it.”

As noted, Mr. Conyers is a remarkably powerful individual. His statement implies that the decision to lay off of ACORN — or COI (Community Organizations International), as they want to be called these days — wasn’t his.

So, whose was it? Who are these “powers that be?”

Only two plausible alternatives spring to mind: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration. As Speaker, Pelosi has the authority to strip Conyers of his position as chairman, which he holds at her sole discretion. But in practice, it would be uncomfortable for her to take such a drastic measure because Pelosi’s own post depends on the good will of her fellow Democrats in the House. If she takes on despotic tendencies, they can turn on her and get her replaced as Speaker.

And then there’s the Obama administration, whose head has worked closely both with and for ACORN throughout his career and even owes a bit to ACORN for their efforts in helping him win the presidential election. Obama’s Justice Department would have been tasked with assisting Conyers in his probe of ACORN’s illegal practices. But the Justice Department just wrung a guilty plea from Conyers’ wife, Monica Conyers, on federal corruption charges, and will also make a sentencing recommendation in her case, which could net her up to five years in prison.

Of course, this is all just speculation. Representative Conyers could clear up all suspicions by elaborating on his remarks and explaining why ACORN should not be exempted from scrutiny. But he seems to have learned a lesson from Speaker Pelosi when she accused the CIA of routinely lying to Congress: when you’re in a hole, stop digging.