Obama on William Ayers

Barack Obama responded to some of the smears from the McCarthy McCain campaign virtually accusing Obama of being a terrorist for his limited association with William Ayers.  The Politico has a portion of what Obama had to say in an interview with Michael Smerconish:

In the interview, which was taped this afternoon and will air tomorrow, and which you can listen to above,  Obama recalled moving back to Chicago after law school, and becoming involved in civic life there.

“The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois,” he said. “That’s how i met him — working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan’s” along with “a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders.”

“Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated,” Obama said.

That may not have been an unreasonable assumption for Obama in the 1990s. Though Ayers never repented his part in the Weather Underground bombings, he had not yet become notorious for advertising them. That notoriety returned in 2001, when he published his memoir, “Fugitive Days,” and reminisced about the bombings in a New York Times interview that happened to appear September 11 of that year.

“This guy is not part of my inner circle, he doesn’t advise my campaign, he’s not going to advise me as president,” Obama assured listeners.

Obama also lashed McCain for focusing on Ayers on a day of dramatic economic turmoil, calling th issue a “red herring.”

“The fact that Senator McCain wants to make this the centerpiece of his campaign is pretty remarkable,” he said. “We are going through an enormous challenge right now. ”

“Senator McCain surely doesn’t believe that I’ve endorsed any of the actions that [Ayers] has taken,” he said. “They’re trying to distract from the economy.”

“We’ve got the biggest economic crisis on our hands since the Great Depression and Senator McCain’s team has said in the newspapers, they’ve said it publicly, ‘If we talk about the economy, then we lose the election,'” Obama said.

Michael Smerconish has also written an op-ed on the controversy, calling it guilt by association and warns that this standard could lead to virtually everyone becoming disqualified for public office:

If we start to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon when selecting public servants, we’d better be ready for a diminished pool of candidates. (That might include Sen. McCain, whose dealings on behalf of Charles Keating were enough to garner a wrist slap from the Senate Ethics Committee almost 20 years ago.)

If the vetting process for a presidential candidate now extends to people with whom they’ve had even minimal contact, it may keep some otherwise qualified individuals out of the system.

I suspect not too many in the seminary or rabbinical school are ready to run for office.

In McCain’s case there are far more examples than Charles Keating, including many extremists who have been far closer to McCain than Ayers was to Obama as I noted yesterday.

While McCain has put out an ad with false claims regarding Obama and Ayers, so far it has only appeared on line. Most likely McCain is hoping that the media will pick up the story without it being obvious that the story originated from McCain. Marc Ambinder writes, “The McCain campaign worries that tough Ayers talk that’s link to McCain will hurt them among certain demographic groups. So — the campaign has yet to back up its talk with action.”  “Certain demographic groups” as used here by Ambinder is another term for “all thinking, rational Americans who would be sickened by the McCain campaign’s practice of McCarthyism in labeling someone un-American merely based upon someone they happen to have met or been on a committee with.”

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    Iago says:

    McPain’s opportunistic bent has left a trail of corrupt and self-serving toxic detritus in the wake of his P(issed)O(ff)W(arzero) Elmer Fudd-anger tinged life that makes anything Obama may have touched on during his integrity-filled span on Earth smell like roses.

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  2. 2
    Angellight says:

    The Gipper speaks — Reagan for Obama — Must See TV!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqfedYAAGEI

    Ayers and Obama sat on a Board with both Republicans and Democrats and it seems as if Ayers had redeemed himself from when he was a younger more hot-headed man!

  3. 3
    jpm says:

    Perhaps Obama should be more concerned about his most recent association:

    Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama announced that he has a half-man half-bat half-brother, Obatma.

    “Obatma shares my DNA and will be uniquely qualified to understand some of the difficult issues facing mutants in this country and around the world.”

    http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/election-08/obatma/

  4. 4
    Stonecipher says:

    Joe Biden dared McCain to bring up Ayers at the debate next Wednesday night at Hofstra.  I hope McCain takes the bait, cause Obama will crush him with Charles Keating:

    http://stonecipher.typepad.com/the_stonecipher_report/2008/10/biden-baits-mcc.html

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