Obama, and particularly his senior adviser, David Axelrod, didn't hesitate to contact Gallup to complain, including veiled threats to publicly discredit the Gallup organization if it didn't change its polling methods (to put Obama back in the lead). Axelrod didn't object to Gallup consistently over-sampling Democrats. His complaint was that Gallup used “out-of-date” methodology in the form of the questions asked to reach the poll results. Axelrod damned Gallup for asking questions in such a way as to produce negative reactions toward Obama. Just for the record, the poll concluded that Romney led Obama 48%-43%, a figure even hardcore Republicans found dubious.
But rather than wait to see if the voters (i.e. Democrats) might come to their senses in the next poll, the pit bulls at the White House went to work, with Axelrod as their point man. Axelrod started out tamely enough, sending e-mails to Gallup indicating his displeasure and pointing out a somewhat negative analysis of Gallup methodology done by a political science professor writing at The National Journal.
The civility didn't last long. When Gallup refused to change its polling methods immediately, Axelrod started threatening. He demanded that a high-level Gallup executive report immediately to the White House to explain Gallup's failure to use the methodology that Axelrod preferred. Gallup refused to comply with the royal summons. Though still indicating that Gallup was willing to discuss possible changes, the pollsters refused to kowtow to the White House gang, and that caused Axelrod to turn implied threats into real threats.
Axelrod let Gallup know in no uncertain terms that the White House would do whatever was necessary to force Gallup into following the straight Chicago-thug line. A little background into what that threat actually meant is required.
Back in 2009, a Gallup employee, relying on the protection of the relatively-new “whistleblower” statute sued Gallup for terminating his services after he publicly accused Gallup of overcharging the government for targeted polling work. That lawsuit has been in the early to mid-litigation stages ever since. The lawsuit was largely unknown to the public, and thus would have had little or no national impact. None, that is, unless the government itself became directly and visibly involved. From the time of the Axelrod-Gallup confrontation, that lawsuit was thereafter a veiled threat.
Axelrod's calculation was that if all other forms of intimidation didn't work to bring Gallup to heel, a government intervention in the lawsuit on the side of the “poor whistleblower” against the miscreant Gallup organization would serve a dual purpose. It would make the White House look like a hero in joining the little guy's battle against a big corporation, and at the same time could be used as “proof” that Gallup was trying to squelch any criticism of its methodology which showed Obama trailing Romney.
In late July, after failing to get Gallup to do what the government told it to do, Axelrod quietly told Attorney General to get his political lawyers to work, and the Department of Justice subsequently joined as a party to the whistleblower's lawsuit, taking it out of the private realm and into the governmental realm. The DOJ joined in the plaintiff's allegations that Gallup had committed violations of the False Claims Act by billing the government for services it did not render, or rendered incompetently. In addition, just in case Gallup didn't get the message, the complaint was amended to include specific charges of bilking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The lawsuit doesn't mention that the original complainant, Michael Lindley, was an Obama campaign operative in 2008, and had ever since bitched to his bosses at Gallup whenever was heard a discouraging word about The One. Up until the publication of Lindley's original allegations, Gallup had considered him to be more a nuisance than a threat. The whistleblower statute is designed to protect an employee from being fired or disciplined for making damaging facts public after attempting to have the company itself reveal those facts. It was not designed to protect the employee from making his opinions public while collecting a paycheck from the company he is “exposing.”
Lindley was publicly attacking his employer for using methods he didn't like, but within that framework, had stated no facts that would indicate that Gallup had done anything either illegal or far outside the standards within the industry. Gallup reacted accordingly. Axelrod has set in motion the awesome power of the federal government to punish a pro-Democratic company for not being pro-Obama enough. He has bootstrapped a contentious in-house lawsuit into what we all call “a federal case.”
This is the “Chicago Way” that Mayor Rahm Emanuel so strongly supports. Turn every minor family dispute into a national cause celebre. All politically-savvy political watchers and participants know you occasionally have to beat your opponent over the head. But only the Chicago pols think that punishing your friends and family for minor deviations in orthodoxy and group-think deserve a public and expensive thrashing. On the other hand, I can think of several past and present foreign governments which depended on just such actions. They were not and are not democratic governments. As a final note, I offer the old saying: “A fish rots from the head down.”
Note: Today is the anniversary of the terrorist attack on New York City and the Pentagon. I have it in my heart and on my mind at all times. We must never forget. My prayer is that the terrorists do not have plans to celebrate the anniversary with another attack on innocent civilians.