The Ayers Smears on Obama and Reality

Hopefully today’s article in The New York Times puts an end to the Ayers smears against Obama. The article reviews the association between Ayers and Obama, or as Steve Benen puts it, Obama And Some Guy He Barely Knows. As the title of The New York Times article reports, the two have “crossed paths.” They found that “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.'” The article goes on to report:

Obama campaign aides said the Ayers relationship had been greatly exaggerated by opponents to smear the candidate.

“The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false,” said Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman. Mr. LaBolt said the men first met in 1995 through the education project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and have encountered each other occasionally in public life or in the neighborhood. He said they have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park.

In the stark presentation of a 30-second advertisement or a television clip, Mr. Obama’s connections with a man who once bombed buildings and who is unapologetic about it may seem puzzling. But in Chicago, Mr. Ayers has largely been rehabilitated.

They wrote a little on the changing views of Ayers in Chicago:

Since earning a doctorate in education at Columbia in 1987, Mr. Ayers has been a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the author or editor of 15 books, and an advocate of school reform.

“He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said in an interview this week, explaining that he has long consulted Mr. Ayers on school issues. Mr. Daley, whose father was Chicago’s mayor during the street violence accompanying the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the so-called Days of Rage the following year, said he saw the bombings of that time in the context of a polarized and turbulent era.

“This is 2008,” Mr. Daley said. “People make mistakes. You judge a person by his whole life.”

The article reviews the times the two have crossed paths, and their association appears quite trivial, reporting “Little Influence Seen.” The article concludes:

Mr. Obama’s friends said that history was utterly irrelevant to judging the candidate, because Mr. Ayers was never a significant influence on him. Even some conservatives who know Mr. Obama said that if he was drawn to Ayers-style radicalism, he hid it well.

“I saw no evidence of a radical streak, either overt or covert, when we were together at Harvard Law School,” said Bradford A. Berenson, who worked on the Harvard Law Review with Mr. Obama and who served as associate White House counsel under President Bush. Mr. Berenson, who is backing Mr. McCain, described his fellow student as “a pragmatic liberal” whose moderation frustrated others at the law review whose views were much farther to the left.

Some 15 years later, left-leaning backers of Mr. Obama have the same complaint. “We’re fully for Obama, but we disagree with some of his stands,” said Tom Hayden, the 1960s activist and former California legislator, who helped organize Progressives for Obama. His group opposes the candidate’s call for sending more troops to Afghanistan, for instance, “because we think it’s a quagmire just like Iraq,” he said. “A lot of our work is trying to win over progressives who think Obama is too conservative.”

Mr. Hayden, 68, said he has known Mr. Ayers for 45 years and was on the other side of the split in the radical antiwar movement that led Mr. Ayers and others to form the Weathermen. But Mr. Hayden said he saw attempts to link Mr. Obama with bombings and radicalism as “typical campaign shenanigans.”

“If Barack Obama says he’s willing to talk to foreign leaders without preconditions,” Mr. Hayden said, “I can imagine he’d be willing to talk to Bill Ayers about schools. But I think that’s about as far as their relationship goes.”

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Don says:

    Apparently , Palin didn’t read the story:

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h2TC1ztefVzOiXeCNcmY7lIelBNwD93JRMQ81

    “In remarks to GOP donors in Englewood, Colo., on Saturday, Palin said Obama seems to see the U.S. as being so imperfect that, in her words, “he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    We know from the Katie Couric interview that Palin doesn’t read the newspapers.

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