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You Don't Need a Weatherman....


To know which way the McCain campaign is hoping the political wind will blow, when it comes to the story of the Obama-Ayers connection.

Sen. John McCain's campaign is still hoping that Obama's connections with William Ayers, an education professor and the co-founder of a radical 60's underground organization, the Weathermen, will make voters think twice about putting Obama in the White House. But recent news accounts show that critics' accounts of their connection are greatly exaggerated.

In case you missed it, the New York Times this weekend published a front page story that basically says that Sen. Barack Obama and Ayers worked together on Chicago's portion of the Annenberg Challenge, a national school reform initiative financed by the late philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg. But Ayers hasn't been a mentor, patron, or policy adviser to Obama.

A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

But that doesn't mean the McCain campaign is letting the story die.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's running mate, said this weekend that Obama is "someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

CNN did a fact check of the statement and came up with this:

Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.

If the campaigns spent as much time discussing actual, relevant education issues as they have been spent so far talking about Ayers, we might actually have a really clear idea of where the candidates planned to take education policy if they were elected to the White House.


The fact remains that Mr. Ayers is an unapologetic domestic terrorist. If you or I had been business partners with anyone such as he, and only later learned of what he (Mr. Ayers) remains proud of his bombing activities, we'd be hard pressed to say ANYthing positive about him.

Indeed, Sen. Obama at best says he's on friendly terms with Mr. Ayers, and at worst says he was 8 when Mr. Ayers did his deeds. This is hardly condemnation of anyone who truly deserves ostracizing, if for no reason, for the families of those who were injured or died in the explosions.

Saturday, October 04, 2008
NYT's Ayers-Obama Whitewash [Stanley Kurtz]
10/04 01:43 PM
© National Review Online 2008

Shane’s article buys the spin on Ayers’ supposed rehabilitation offered by the Obama campaign and Ayers’ supporters in Chicago. In this view, whatever Ayers did in the 1960's has somehow been redeemed by Ayers’ later turn to education work. As the Times quotes Mayor Daley saying, "People make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life." The trouble with this is that Ayers doesn’t view his terrorism as a mistake. How can he be forgiven when he’s not repentant? Nor does Ayers see his education work as a repudiation of his early radicalism. On the contrary, Ayers sees his education work as carrying on his radicalism in a new guise. The point of Ayers’ education theory is that the United States is a fundamentally racist and oppressive nation. Students, Ayers believes, ought to be encouraged to resist this oppression. Obama was funding Ayers’ "small schools" project, built around this philosophy. Ayers’ radicalism isn’t something in the past. It’s something to which Obama gave moral and financial support as an adult. So when Shane says that Obama has never expressed sympathy for Ayers’ radicalism, he’s flat wrong. Obama’s funded it.

Obama was perfectly aware of Ayers’ radical views, since he read and publically endorsed, without qualification, Ayers’ book on juvenile crime. That book is quite radical, expressing doubts about whether we ought to have a prison system at all, comparing America to South Africa’s apartheid system, and contemptuously dismissing the idea of the United States as a kind or just country. Shane mentions the book endorsement, yet says nothing about the book’s actual content. Nor does Shane mention the panel about Ayers’ book, on which Obama spoke as part of a joint Ayers-Obama effort to sink the 1998 Illinois juvenile crime bill. Again, we have unmistakable evidence of a substantial political working relationship. (I’ve described it in detail here in "Barack Obama’s Lost Years."

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