Only one of the five television networks that interviewed President Obama for their Sunday shows bothered to ask him about Acorn, the left-wing community organizing group whose federal funding was cut off last week by an overwhelming vote in Congress.
"Frankly, it's not something I've followed closely," Mr. Obama claimed, adding he wasn't even aware the group had been the recipient of significant federal funding. "This is not the biggest issue facing the country. It's not something I'm paying a lot of attention to," he said.
Mr. Obama added that an investigation of Acorn was appropriate after an amateur hidden-camera investigation had found Acorn offices willing to abet prostitution, but he carefully declined to say whether he would approve a federal cutoff of funds to the group.
Mr. Obama took great pains to act as if he barely knew about Acorn. In fact, his association goes back almost 20 years. In 1991, he took time off from his law firm to run a voter-registration drive for Project Vote, an Acorn partner that was soon fully absorbed under the Acorn umbrella.
The drive registered 135,000 voters and was considered a major factor in the upset victory of Democrat Carol Moseley Braun over incumbent Democratic Senator Alan Dixon in the 1992 Democratic Senate primary.
Mr. Obama's success made him a hot commodity on the community organizing circuit. He became a top trainer at Acorn's Chicago conferences. In 1995, he became Acorn's attorney, participating in a landmark case to force the state of Illinois to implement the federal Motor Voter Law. That law's loose voter registration requirements would later be exploited by Acorn employees in an effort to flood voter rolls with fake names.