Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama and the Radicals

Barack Obama's early ties to '60s-era radicals have emerged as Topic "A" since Wednesday's debate. This morning's Los Angeles Times adds its coverage this morning, "Obama and the Former Radicals":

Democrats have tried to heal their party's angry passions ever since violent protesters disrupted the Democratic National Convention here in 1968, a shock to America's collective psyche that helped Republican Richard Nixon capture the White House.

But some of the old fault lines were visible again Thursday as Sen. Barack Obama's suddenly defensive presidential campaign sought to distance him from Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, aging academics who planted bombs in the Capitol, the Pentagon and other buildings to protest U.S. government policy. They are now widely respected community figures here.

The evidence linking Obama, who was born in 1961, to the two former militants, now in their 60s, remained thin, despite the appearance of a slickly produced, anonymously issued five-minute video titled "Obama's Terrorist Connections" on YouTube that sought to exploit the alleged tie.

Obama and Ayers moved in some of the same political and social circles in the leafy liberal enclave of Hyde Park, where they lived several blocks apart. In the mid-1990s, when Obama was running for the Illinois Senate, Ayers introduced Obama during a political event at his home, according to Obama's aides. Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, later contributed $200 to Obama's state campaign.

Obama and Ayers met a dozen times as members of the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a local grant-making foundation, according to the group's president. They appeared together to discuss juvenile justice on a 1997 panel sponsored by the University of Chicago, records show. They appeared again in 2002 at an academic panel co-sponsored by the Chicago Public Library.

Ayers and Dohrn, an associate law professor at Northwestern University, did not return phone calls or e-mail Thursday about their relationship with Obama, their leadership of the militant Weather Underground or their decade as fugitives from the law.
Here's the video, "Obama's Terrorist Connections," via YouTube:

While mainstream media reports suggest a weak connection between Obama and the radicals, the Barack-osphere's attacking the media for their "gotcha" politics. Yet there's no denying that Obama's radical ties raise legimate questions of character, judgment, and integrity.

Check out the roundup at Huffington Post yesterday, "
ABC's Democratic Debate: HuffPost Bloggers Respond," which includes over two-dozen entries attacking both Hillary Clinton and the media for McCarthy-ite shallowness.

Taylor Marsh, who's included at the link, puts things in the appropriate perspective:

So no one should be surprised that Obama had a a nightmare night. He finally got real questions for which he should have had ready answers. Over the last year Barack Obama has gotten a complete pass on his record, his life and everything associated to his political rise....

The facts are that the progressive community and Obama supporters have done their candidate no favors by the kid glove treatment they've applied to all things having to do with him and his record, including his associations. What happened last night is a result of one year of people ignoring reality. That's right, reality. Because the closer Obama got to the nomination and the general election, the curtain would eventually be pulled back on every event in his life, good, bad and horror show, which includes Rev. Wright....

Again, I'd blame Gibson and Stephanopoulos, but it's not their fault that someone, anyone finally asked questions that have been out there for months and months. It's not tabloid to ask about Ayers any more than it was tabloid to question Bill Clinton about his past. Hillary's been asked about everything more than once, as they reload to ask it all over again.
Notice how Marsh starts to pin the blame on the moderators, and then takes it back as "not their fault."

Maybe she doesn't want to suffer the same fate as Mayhill Fowler, who's become the subject of
vicious attacks, including some right there at Huffington Post itself.

And this Democratic primary's no more nasty than those of earlier era?

It may be time to revisit that history, and keep in mind, things are just now starting to get good