Barack Obama and Bill Ayers: Stanley Kurtz Makes the Connection

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal and National Review Online, Ethics and Public Policy Center senior fellow Stanley Kurtz traces Barack Obama’s partnership with former domestic terrorist William Ayers when the two collaborated at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a charity established to help Chicago’s public schools that was commandeered by Ayers to promote his radical agenda.

The association between Obama and Ayers has received virtually no attention from the three broadcast networks, with the conspicuous exception of a primary-season debate sponsored by ABC when George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his relationship with Ayers. Out of 1,365 broadcast evening news stories about Obama prior to the end of the primaries, only two mentioned Ayers — one a brief mention of the debate question on the April 17 Nightly News, and the other a World News Sunday story about McCain raising the Ayers issue on This Week.

With just 42 days left until Election Day, the broadcast networks have not presented a single in-depth report on Obama’s relationship with Ayers. But Kurtz’s review of the documents at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) shows the two “worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda,” which “flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism.”

For a flavor of Ayers’ continuing radicalism, the New York Times profiled the 1960s radical back on September 11, 2001, the same day as the al-Qaeda attack that killed thousands of New Yorkers at the World Trade Center. The piece by Dinitia Smith began: “‘I don’t regret setting bombs,’ Bill Ayers said. ‘I feel we didn’t do enough.’”

A short excerpt from that piece:
Mr. Ayers, who in 1970 was said to have summed up the Weatherman philosophy as: ''Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at,'' is today distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he says he doesn't actually remember suggesting that rich people be killed or that people kill their parents, but ''it's been quoted so many times I'm beginning to think I did,'' he said. ''It was a joke about the distribution of wealth.''

He went underground in 1970, after his girlfriend, Diana Oughton, and two other people were killed when bombs they were making exploded in a Greenwich Village town house. With him in the Weather Underground was Bernardine Dohrn, who was put on the F.B.I.'s 10 Most Wanted List. J. Edgar Hoover called her ''the most dangerous woman in America'' and ''la Pasionara of the Lunatic Left.'' Mr. Ayers and Ms. Dohrn later married. ...

In 1969, after the Manson family murders in Beverly Hills, Ms. Dohrn told an S.D.S. audience: ''Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach.''
A month earlier, a profile of Ayers in Chicago Magazine included a picture of Ayers stomping on the American flag. Marcia Froelke Coburn wrote the accompanying article: “Talk to him for any length of time and some rhetoric of the past slips into the conversation. ‘I think there will be another mass political movement,’ he predicts, ‘because I believe that the kind of injustice that is built into our world will not go quietly into the night.’”

In the mid-1990s, Obama was hired to be the chairman of Ayers’ “brainchild,” the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Here are the key excerpts from Kurtz's op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal; the entire must-read article can be found here.
Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.

The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.

The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them....

The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto....

CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).

Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement....

Mr. Ayers's defenders claim that he has redeemed himself with public-spirited education work. That claim is hard to swallow if you understand that he views his education work as an effort to stoke resistance to an oppressive American system. He likes to stress that he learned of his first teaching job while in jail for a draft-board sit-in. For Mr. Ayers, teaching and his 1960s radicalism are two sides of the same coin....

The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.

In his National Review Online piece, Kurtz adds a valuable point about how the radical left dominated the CAC despite the fact that the funding originated with Republican powerhouse Walter Annenberg:
The Obama camp denies CAC’s radicalism by pointing to the fact that this foundation was funded by Nixon Ambassador and Reagan friend, Walter Annenberg. Moderates and Republicans often support Annenberg activities, it’s true. Yet the story of modern philanthropy is largely the story of moderate and conservative donors finding their funds “captured” by far more liberal, often radical, beneficiaries. CAC’s story is a classic of the genre. Ayers and Obama guided CAC money to community organizers, like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and the Developing Communities Project (Part of the Gamaliel Foundation network), groups self-consciously working in the radical tradition of Saul Alinsky. Walter Annenberg’s personal politics don’t change that one iota.

The fact that Ayers and other tenured radicals hold power at our universities is in no way negated by the presence of Republican appointees on university boards of trustees. Ayers’s radicalism is undeniable. He remains unapologetic for his bombings of the 1960s. Even now, he refuses to rule out violence as a resort. His education writings are deeply politicized and filled with exhortations to “resist” America’s racist and oppressive social system. In 2006 — along with his wife and fellow former-terrorist, Bernardine Dohrn, and Jeff Jones — Ayers released, Sing A Battle Song, a collection of intensely radical writings from the Weather Underground. Ayers makes it clear in that book that, while he is embarrassed by some of the Weather Underground’s rhetoric, he still adheres to the same ideas. Beyond its strictly historical interest, Ayers and his co-editors make a point of hoping that their old writings would be “of use to new generations of militant activists and organizers.” By directing CAC funds to groups like ACORN and the Developing Communities Project of the Gamaliel Foundation, Ayers was supporting just such militant activists and organizers....

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge stands as Barack Obama’s most important executive experience to date. By its own account, CAC was a largely a failure. And a series of critical evaluations point to reasons for that failure, including a poor strategy, to which the foundation over-committed in 1995, and over-reliance on community organizers with insufficient education expertise. The failure of CAC thus raises entirely legitimate questions, both about Obama’s competence, his alliances with radical community organizers, and about Ayers’s continuing influence over CAC and its board, headed by Obama. Above all, by continuing to fund Ayers’s personal projects, and those of his political-educational allies, Obama was lending moral and material support to Ayers’s profoundly radical efforts. Ayers’s terrorist history aside, that makes the Ayers-Obama relationship a perfectly legitimate issue in this campaign.
Kurtz has painstakingly documented the connections between Barack Obama and the radical left. The only question is, will the so-called mainstream media find any of this worth reporting between now and Election Day?
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters