INCESSANT ACORN NONSENSE…. It’s tempting to ignore the incessant right-wing whining about ACORN. We’re dealing with a group of people who either a) don’t understand the difference between registration fraud and voter fraud; or b) do understand the difference and hope to deceive voters. Either way, some well-intentioned folks are getting confused, so ignoring the nonsense isn’t a viable option.

To hear Republicans, Fox News, and far-right bloggers tell it, an untold horde of illegally-registered voters are going to swarm into precincts on Election Day and steal the election from McCain/Palin. While it’s generally best not to impugn anyone’s motives, in this case, we’re clearly dealing with a group of partisans who are operating in bad faith.

The Obama campaign is starting to push back.

After days of withering attacks against ACORN and implications that the Obama campaign was using the community organizing group to perpetuate voter fraud, aides to the Illinois Democrat fought back on Tuesday.

In a conference call with reporters, campaign manager David Plouffe called the charge that ACORN was illegally registering voters (and that Obama had nefarious ties to the organization) a cynical “smokescreen” and an attempt to discourage people from going to the polls.

“This is just the start of what is going to be a very deliberate and cynical attempt to try and create confusion and challenge people inappropriately,” he said. “They clearly, strategically, believe the more people who vote in this election, the less their chances are [for victory].”

Plouffe’s right, but I’m afraid the line he took wasn’t nearly aggressive enough.

Josh Marshall had arguably the definitive item on this a few days ago, but had another illustrative item today.

Let’s be clear about what this is. These are random stories about fake vote registrations. The Drudges and Fox scoundrels of the world seem to think that if someone fills out a voter registration card for Mickey Mouse, that Mickey Mouse might show up and cast a vote they’re not entitled to cast. It doesn’t and there is zero evidence of any voter fraud or anything that would make voter fraud more likely. The level of lying, bad faith or at best ignorance of the people making these claims is really beyond imagining. This isn’t vote fraud. There’s no evidence of vote fraud. Nothing. This is an effort of a losing political party to a) lay the groundwork for challenging their defeat at the polls b) lay the groundwork to pass laws to make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.

That some journalists — I’m not talking about Fox News, I mean actual reporters with professional standards — are falling for this ridiculous scam is disconcerting, to put it mildly.

There’s no story here, just a fairly transparent con job.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.