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Monday, October 06, 2008

Thirty Lies About Ayres and Obama

John K. Wilson, who writes in an "Off The Bus" column for Huffington Post, refutes rightwing smears about Barack Obama's alleged association with former 60s radical William Ayres. Using sources from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other mainstream media, Wilson demonstrates that most journalists dismissed allegations that Obama and Ayres had anything other than a passing acquaitance. Here's a sample of what he said:
Sarah Palin declared, "This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country."

The New York Times article, which prompted Palin's remarks, actually concluded 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."

CNN Political Ticker evaluated Palin's "palling" charges and concluded, "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....CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved."

Back in February, the Washington Post reported in a fact check, But the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one.(Washington Post, 2/18/08)
Obama is known to work across all types of party lines with people, many of whom he disagrees with, to accomplish broader mainstream goals. And his assocation with Ayres simply fits into that category.

The rest of this post deconstructs the lies the rightwing is willing to tell in their desperate attempt to keep power. Perhaps one of the most important lies, though, is that Ayres was even a terrorist. The definition of a terrorist is one who would kill innocent people to create fear and panic. While Ayres actions were despicable, he was not a murderer as the wingnuts are claiming. Nobody died in any bombing committed by Ayres. Apparently, people were not the target, and it was by design that none perished. This absolutely does not excuse the action of Ayres or his fellow conspirators. For starters, they were lucky nobody got killed accidentally. Despite the best of intentions, an innocent bystander, a building guard, an employee staying after hours, anybody could have been caught up in the explosion. You just don't play with bombs, ever. Period!

But the fact remains that Bill Ayres never intended to harm people and nobody was harmed by his foolish and reprehensible actions. That said, Obama condemned those actions, which occurred when Obama was only eight years old.

The adult Obama served on a board that Ayres headed and attended an event for another politician in Ayres' home. William Ayres and his wife, Bernhadine Dorn, another former member of the Weather Underground, apparently were rehabilitated. They are not fugitives. They are currently law abiding citizens who have the same rights as anybody else. And Ayres is currently a respected Chicago educator. None of that makes his past actions acceptable. It just means people change. It also means that any one of us could brush up against somebody who ran afoul of the law and committed heinous deeds in the past but who has changed. It might even be a co-worker or neighbor. And if we befriended that person today, we would be no more guilty of condoning their past actions than Obama is in this instance.

That's what makes guilt by association and smears like this so unacceptable.


Bryan said...

With the McCain/Palin campaign currently falling behind in the polls, they are desperately trying to change the topic of discussion. Palin tried to simply switch the issues being discussed when she blatantly ignored the questions during the debate, but those tricks didn’t work because she couldn’t even provide productive answers on the topics she wanted to talk about.

So with any legitimate issues out of the windows, the McCain campaign has launched false allegations against Obama in a Karl Rove type move. I imagine they thought that with such a short time before the election the falseholds might actually take hold before people head out to the polls. Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, nobody but for the extreme right are actually believing what their misleading smears.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

You're right. A couple of things are working against McCain. The first is that his side no longer has a clear playing field to spread lies, innuendos, and smears. Even if Obama was not inclined to answer back (the biggest mistake John Kerry ever made was ignoring attacks), there is a bunch of independent citizen journalists out there who will do the research and counter the false claims.

Plus Obama is not John Kerry. He has the money and inclination to answer false charges and to hit hard with some uncomfortable truths about John McCain's own past associations.

But even more important than those factors, the times are too dire right now. I think people understand that this is McCain's fourth Hail Mary pass to try to change the game. And people can see it's a desperate attempt to divert their attention from the economy.

McCain's biggest problem is his own staff's incompetence. You don't actually give an interview, as his campaign manager did, admitting that if the public's attention is on the economy, McCain will lose so you have to distract them with dirt.

It was like Sarah Palin blatantly admitting that she would not answer Ifill's questions. Americans just aren't that stupid. They got it that Palin's refusal was an admission of inability to provide substantive answers.

McCain's campaign's stupidity is only exceeded by their arrogance and their sense that they are entitled to get away with such nonsense.

Isophorone said...

Karen, Are you out of your mind? Saying Ayers never intended to hurt anyone? He certainly intended to kill and maim by his bomb making!

By the way, what would you do if it turned out that Obama did have more than a casual association with Ayers? Would that disturb you?

Check the CNN report at this link:

Note that the media sources you quote never interviewed or quoted anyone who actually looked into the Obama/Ayers connection (particularly what is available at the University of Illinois at Chicago).

Anonymous said...

Concerning the Ayres associations, if there is any traction to the guilt by association, it may have to do with the conservative viewpoint that Obama 'lied" about his association with Ayres. What is being done to refute that accusation? Was there not a clear statement concerning some sort of cover up or outright lie on Obama's part? If there was such a clear statement refuting the lie, it does not seem to prominent as a defense. I am seeking such a clear statement of refutation so I can offer it when the subject arises.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Barack Obama has denied that Ayres is a close friend. According to the New York Times, the Washington Post and other independent reports, any association between the two was casual. They are not friends and they are not close.

If Bill Ayres became a respected professor - and the word is that he was named Most Distinguished Citizen in Chicago at one point - it would be hard to avoid any association with the man.

The Republicans are trying to claim that Obama is guilty of harboring terrorist views simply because he had a passing acquaitance with somebody who had an unsavory past but who then became a member of the mainstream.

I don't particularly respect Bill Ayres for his past, but if he lived in Fairfax and became a prominent citizen who attended lots of events, I would probably have a nodding acquaitance with him, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that I agreed with his past actions.

I mean, what more can you say?

Republicans have similar unsavory connections that could be embarrassing. Everybody prominent has six degrees of separation from somebody they'd likely be embarrassed about knowing.