Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Will He Be Known By The Company He Keeps?

In a photo that accompanied a 2001
Chicagomag.com article, William
Ayers strikes a pose atop the U.S. flag.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama continues to gingerly step around the questions regarding his relationship with Vietnam War-era protester/terrorist William Ayers.

Ayers, who was a leader of the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground, played a key role in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972. (Ayers summed up the organization's ideology as follows: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.") Currently a professor of education at the University of Illinois, he also is know as fellow Weathermen terrorist Bernardine Dohrn's husband and a supporter of Obama. According to the Web site, Discoverthenetworks.org, "In his 2001 screed, Fugitive Days, Ayers recounts his life as a Sixties radical, his tenure as a Weatherman lieutenant, his terrorist campaign across America, and his enduring hatred for for the United States. 'What a country,' Ayers said in 2001. 'It makes me want to puke.'"

Willaim Ayers: Seen better days?

According to Discoverthenetworks.org, "In the mid-1990s, Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn hosted meetings at their Chicago home to introduce Barack Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. In 1999 Ayers joined the Woods Fund of Chicago, where he served as a director alongside Barack Obama until the latter left the Woods board in December 2002. Ayers went on to become Woods' Chairman of the Board. In 2002 the Woods Fund made a grant to Northwestern University Law School's Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was employed."

During the Democrats' Pennsylvania primary debate, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his ties to Ayers --
  • STEPHANOPOULOS: "Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?"
  • OBAMA: "George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George. The fact is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who, during his campaign, once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those, either. So this kind of game in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, that somehow their ideas could be attributed to me, I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't."
Now, Jake Tapper over at his ABC News blog, "Political Punch," links to Ayers' blog/comic strip. I normally don't quote/copy articles or blogs wholesale, but Tapper's comments -- along with his use of Ayers' strip -- are better served by its complete inclusion/use.

In a Not-Remotely-Comic Strip, Bill Ayers Weighs In on What He Meant By 'We Didn't Do Enough' to End Vietnam War

September 09, 2008 11:06 AM

In a four-panel not-even-remotely-comic strip, William Ayers, the former member of the Weather Underground and associate of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., weighs in on his blog on some of the controversy he's been causing.

It reads:

"From his Chicago home, Bill Ayers responds to the 'We didn't do enough,' statement, a soundbite echoing ad nauseam through the media."

Says the Ayers cartoon: "It's impossible to get to be my age and not have plenty of regrets. The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being.

"During the Vietnam war, the Weather Underground took credit for bombing several government installations as a dramatic form of armed propaganda. Action was taken against symbolic targets in order to declare a state of emergency. But warnings were always called in, and by design no one was ever hurt.

"When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough s---."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.' "The war in Vietnam was not only illegal, it was profoundly immoral, millions of people were needlessly killed. Even though I worked hard to end the war, I feel to this day that I didn't do enough because the war dragged on for years after the majority of the American people came to oppose it. I don't think violent resistance is necessarily the answer, but I do think opposition and refusal is imperative."

Several pundits and scholars are currently digging into the Obama-Ayers (and more to come) stories. Stay tuned...

Extra: Those doing a great job digging into these ties and keeping the stories alive include John Batchelor, John Fund and Hugh Hewitt.

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