The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Taking on Ayers

As I mentioned in my last post, the Barack Obama-Bill Ayers connection is but one of a number of sketchy associations that plague the Senator’s background. But unlike Tony Resko, another associate of Obama’s who has participated in criminal activities, Ayers was an admitted domestic terrorist, and as such, should have never gotten within shouting distance of a person running for public office. He did, and the story of the connection will become a campaign issue.

Obama’s protectors in the MSM have already begun their defense. The New York Times writes:
WASHINGTON — The conservative group running advertisements that highlight Senator Barack Obama’s association with the 1960s radical William Ayers is being financed by a Texas billionaire who has raised money for Senator John McCain and who also helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Senator John Kerry in 2004.

The billionaire, Harold Simmons, donated nearly $2.9 million on Aug. 12 to the American Issues Project, the group running the advertisements, papers it has filed with the Federal Election Commission show.

The NYT and other left-leaning MSM outlets never spent the time to investigate the 2004 charges leveled by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, instead using the newly formed verb “swiftboating” as a pejorative implying unsubstantiated and false accusations. It appears that they’re going to dismiss the Ayers story as a “swiftboating” incident. Problem is, there’s a growing body of evidence that may prove them wrong.

I’m reasonably convinced that the Center of the American electorate would look askance at a candidate for the presidency who shares a close association with a man who bombed federal buildings in his youth and remains unrepentant to this day. That’s why the Obama campaign is trying hard to distance their candidate from Ayers—“just neighbors.”

But the Annenberg Education Challenge has opened the door for a more detailed investigation of the Barack Obama-Bill Ayers relationship, not to mention Obama’s sole foray into executive leadership. Preliminary information is troubling on both fronts.

Thomas Lifson reports:
William Ayers, unrepentant terrorist and education professor, is once again being tied to Barack Obama in the public mind. Controversy builds over the withholding of the archives of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an expensive failed school reform effort headed by Obama and effectively run by Ayers, held by the library of the University of Illinois Chicago. Researchers who have gained access to a few documents recording the history of the project have found strong evidence of a very important working relationship between the two men on the project, Obama's sole claim to executive experience.

Oddly enough, even though the project produced no measurable improvement in student performance according to its own final report, educators and administrators -- participants and grantees of the CAC -- were reported by outside monitors to be often "ebullient" about the activities. For insiders, it was an excellent adventure. For the pupils stuck in the failing public schools of Chicago, an ongoing, unrelieved disaster.

A simple way for the Obama campaign to put this issue to rest would be to have their candidate address it head on. Tell us about the Challenge, about the relationship between himself and Ayers, about the way over $50 million dollars was spent in a failed effort to improve schools with Obama at the helm. But they have, at least to this point, decided to stonewall on the subject. Past experience indicates that stonewalling rarely works, even if the MSM is complicit by not expending resources to investigate the issue.

But there are deeper questions that need to be addressed. Lifson continues:
Barack Obama joined the CAC [Annenberg Challenge] shortly after William Ayers and Anne C. Hallett received news that their letter of November 8, 1994 submitting a grant proposal to The Annenberg Challenge had been approved. They were to get as much as $49 million from Annenberg, plus tens of millions more dollars from other foundations. Obama's involvement predates by months the actual incorporation of the CAC and his appointment as founding chairman of the board. He came on board almost as soon as the proposal was approved.

How on earth did a relatively unknown associate at a politically-connected but small Chicago law firm come to be entrusted with the heady task of handing out tens of millions of dollars of other people's money?

Keep in mind that Obama was at this point in his career very undistinguished considering his pedigree. It would be a kind understatement to say he had underperformed his academic resume. Three years out of Harvard Law and the Law Review Presidency, here is a short list of some of the things Obama had not done:

Clerked for a US Supreme Court Justice (or any Federal Judge);

worked in an important legal position at any level of serious responsibility;

written a law review article or note or published anything of legal substance.

As of 1995 Obama may have had the most professionally empty resume of any President of the Harvard Law Review three years gone from "The Law School."

And yet Ayers gave him a gig that would enable him to hand out large amounts of money to many people in Chicago, who could be expected to be grateful, once Obama ran for office -- as he was to do later that very year, in an event held at the home of Ayers and Dohrn.

Quite clearly, Obama was already well-enough known and trusted by Ayers to be offered the sensitive, prestigious and highly visible post of chairman of this important new undertaking. So we must ask, when did Obama and Ayers actually first get to know one another? And how did they come to trust one another?

Interesting questions that need to be answered before anyone in the Center casts a vote for Barack Obama.