Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ties That Bind: Barack Obama and William Ayers

Barack Obama's association with Weatherman terrorist William Ayers has reemerged this week amid troubling questions surrounding a cover-up of Obama's failed leadership of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

Michael Barone indicates that "
Obama Needs to Explain His Ties to William Ayers":

In my U.S. News column this week, I make a brief reference to the unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist bomber William Ayers and his connections to Barack Obama. They were closer than Obama implied when George Stephanopoulos asked him about Ayers in the April 16 debate—the last debate Obama allowed during the primary season....

Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was cochairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama's state Senate campaign was held in Ayers's apartment. Ayers later wrote a memoir, and an article about him appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001. "I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers is quoted as saying. "I feel we didn't do enough."

Ayers was a terrorist in the late 1960s and 1970s whose radical group set bombs at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

You might wonder what Obama was doing working with a character like this. And you might wonder how an unrepentant terrorist got a huge grant and cooperation from the Chicago public school system. You might wonder—if you don't know Chicago. For this is a city with a civic culture in which politicians, in the words of a story often told by former congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House counsel Abner Mikva, "don't want nobody nobody sent." That's what Mikva remembers being told when he went to a Democratic ward headquarters to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and it rings true. And it's a civic culture in which there's nobody better to send you than your parents.
Barone continues, explaining why Ayers' past as a domestic terrorist is no problem for Obama:
He was willing to use Ayers and ally with him despite his terrorist past and lack of repentance. An unrepentant terrorist, who bragged of bombing the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, was a fit associate. Ayers evidently helped Obama gain insider status in Chicago civic life and politics—how much, we can't be sure unless the Richard J. Daley Library opens the CAC archive. But most American politicians would not have chosen to associate with a man with Ayers's past or of Ayers's beliefs. It's something voters might reasonably want to take into account.
Thomas Lifson covered the Obama-Ayers connection yesterday:

Obama and his campaign long have gone out of their way to downplay, in fact distort, the long and evidently deep relationship between Ayers and Obama.
Recall that Obama told ABC's George Stephanopolous that Ayers was just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood."

Yet, if Ayers was just a neighbor,
why has Stanley Kurtz at the National Review been stonewalled by the University of Illinios Chicago regarding access to Annenberg files?

The university has agreed to open public access to the Daley Library's Annenberg documents, although
Steve Diamond suggests questions remain on the hush, hush nature of the controversy:

Bill Ayers, the former terrorist leader of the Weather Underground, is now a prominent member of the UIC faculty in their College of Education. He was the founder of the CAC and helped pick Barack Obama as the CAC Board Chair in 1995....
Without a full explanation of the role of Ayers in this series of events, it is unlikely that the public will feel reassured that the CAC documents have not been tampered with.
As I've noted previously, the Ayers/CAC scandal is part of the new, broader pattern of Barack Obama's deceit, secrecy, and subterfuge.

So far, the press has largely given Obama a pass, but as attention mounts, the Annenberg case could further damage Obama's presidential aspirations. As
Clarice Feldman notes:

The last thing Obama should want made public are his dubious associates....

Once the public learns more of the CAC, will the voters decide that the manner in which Obama exercised his sole opportunity at executive authority was so good that he deserves the keys to the Oval Office?

Will the voters conclude that the old- professor- in- the- neighborhood story was so disingenuous that Obama was lying to hide from them facts they deserved to know — indeed, facts every bit as relevant as Hillary’s failure at health care reform about which they were informed in the primaries?

Will voters who consider education an important issue — and surely that includes many important voter groups for Obama — take kindly to a man who took $110 million of charitable funds which were earmarked for improving public education and squandered it on salaries for men like Weatherman Ayers and Michael Klonsky, the Maoist leader of the Revolutionary Youth Movement which worked with the Weather Underground and who at the time of CAC’s lavish grants to him worked as a cab driver?
I don't think so.

Obama's a classic Chicago machine politician, and as revelations continue to surface, Democratic buyer's remorse may be this year's October Surprise.