John McCain has many, many, many faults -chief among them that he is at best a lukewarm conservative- but whatever his shortcomings the Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war is not in the habit of clinking champagne glasses over brie with living, breathing, remorseless terrorist traitors who continue to seethe with hatred for the United States.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, doesn't have a problem with such people until he gets nailed on it. In fact, Obama has a close personal relationship with a man who did everything in his power to hurt John McCain and other U.S. personnel serving in Vietnam.
But more on that in a moment.
The most famous example of Obama unloading a troublesome associate is the case of the anti-American firebrand Rev. Jeremiah Wright who preached hatred from the pulpit of Obama's church for decades. The Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting continues to hang out with people who really don't like America, such as Obama campaign advisor Cornel West, a radical Princeton professor who denounces his native land as racist and patriarchal and who embraces Venezuela's leftist strongman Hugo Chavez. Chavez allows terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas to operate in his country and has been backing communist rebels trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Colombia. Another politically radioactive Obama friend is Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American and former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokesman who is now Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University.
However, among Obama's many unsavory associates, no one stands out quite like the unrepentant Pentagon bomber William Ayers, a self-described revolutionary communist who even today is proud of what he did. Ayers was a leader in the Weathermen, or Weather Underground, a homegrown American terrorist group dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and the violent overthrow of the United States government. Ayers's group planned but failed to succeed in a 1970 plot to detonate a bomb and kill hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Fort Dix, N.J.
And Obama's close personal friend is proud even to this day of waging war against America. Ayers said he had no regrets about bombing New York City police headquarters, the Capitol, and the Pentagon in the 1970s. "I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers said in a New York Times interview that happened to be published September 11, 2001. "I feel we didn't do enough." When asked if he would do it all again, he said, "I don't want to discount the possibility." The home page of Ayers's personal website is, unsurprisingly, graced with a photograph of mass murderer Che Guevara.
On April 16 when Obama was asked about his relationship with Ayers, with whom he had served on the board of the left-wing Woods Fund of Chicago, Obama was indignant as he tried to downplay the relationship.
Throwing out a rhetorical red herring, Obama said he was just a child when Ayers bombed U.S. landmarks. Obama said he had little contact with "a guy that lives in my neighborhood... who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody I exchange ideas from [sic] 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 eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense..."
It is true that Obama can't be blamed for terrorist acts committed by another when he was a boy, but the Illinois senator omitted important background information critical to understanding the extent of his relationship with Ayers.
It has been widely reported already that Ayers hosted a fundraiser in his home in 1995 that helped launch Obama's political career, but hardly any media outlets have reported on the Annenberg connection.
In his 49-page curriculum vitae posted online, Ayers describes himself as a co-founder of the 1995-2000 Chicago School Reform Collaborative project, a.k.a. the Annenberg Challenge. Obama was its first chairman of the board. (See "The Chicago Annenberg Challenge: The First Three Years," Consortium on Chicago School Research, 1999. PDF of report available here. Ayers is identified as co-founder at page 11. Obama is identified as chairman in endnote 15, page 54.)
In addition to serving as the Annenberg Challenge's first chairman, Obama served on the "Leadership Council" of the Chicago Public Schools Education Fund, the Challenge's successor organization. Obama served on this council alongside Ayers's father, Thomas, and his brother, John, in 2001 and 2002, according to the Fund's annual reports. Obama and John Ayers also served on the council in 2003 and 2004, according to the Fund's annual reports. (Thomas Ayers, who died in 2007, had been CEO of Commonwealth Edison.)
Obama and Ayers also appeared on academic panels together. One panel dealt with juvenile justice issues, and at that time Obama said Ayers's book on the topic was "a searing and timely account." Both also worked to reform Chicago's education system. (New York Times, May 11, 2008)
It is hard to believe that the two passionate left-wing activists who both live in the ultra-leftist environment of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood exchanged no ideas about political goals and tactics in all their interactions together. After all, they have so much in common and so much to discuss. Ayers could easily have served as a Marxist mentor to Obama.
But apart from offering a perfunctory denunciation of Ayers's past actions during the debate and a lame attempt to spin the facts on his website, Obama has failed to denounce the rabidly anti-American radicalism of his friend. Both Ayers and Obama refuse to discuss their relationship. Why?
And after a brief flurry of media coverage following the April debate, the issue has gone dormant.
But it shouldn't. It should be on every TV news and talk show and on the front coverage of every newspaper. Here's why:
Decades after Ayers bombed the Pentagon in May 1972, he giggled about the experience in his memoir. In a 2001 Wall Street Journal column about a book signing event for Ayers's memoir, John Tabin noted: "In his book, he writes: ‘It turns out that we blew up a bathroom and, quite by accident, water plunged below and knocked out their computers for a time, disrupting the air war [in Vietnam] and sending me into deepening shades of delight.'"
Added Tabin: "In those four little words, ‘disrupting the air war,' there is the dark prospect of American soldiers in jeopardy."
And who might one of those soldiers in jeopardy at the time have been? While Ayers interfered with America's war effort and cheered for a North Vietnamese victory over the United States, John McCain, whose A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft was shot down over Hanoi in October 1967, was held in captivity by the North Vietnamese and tortured regularly. Now the Republican Party's presumptive presidential candidate in 2008, he was released by the Communist Vietnamese government in March 1973.
As McCain languished in the Hanoi Hilton, Obama's friend Ayers spent the 1970s waging war against the United States and fleeing justice. He surrendered in 1980 but a legal technicality led to all charges being dropped. Ayers gloated: "Guilty as sin, free as a bird, America is a great country." And what a forgiving country it is! After he retired from his distinguished career in terrorism, he was welcomed with open arms by the academy. Ayers is now Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and he uses his position to spread his gospel of revolution.
In an age of terrorism when national security issues are of great national importance, why aren't journalists asking more questions about Obama's connections to a known terrorist whose actions might have had an impact on another presidential candidate?
It's way too good a story to ignore.
(Much of the above appears in "Barack Obama: A Radical Leftist's Journey from Community Organizing to Politics," by Elias Crim and Matthew Vadum, published by Capital Research Center in Foundation Watch, June 2008.) (Blog entry cross-posted here)