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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Why Ayers Matters

With all due respect to the formidable Ms. McArdle (who is a daily must read), Ayers does matter.

Over the last 30 years, unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers has been accepted into Chicago society where he holds a professorship at a public university. As I wrote yesterday, he has gained this position and prominence despite his lack of remorse about his terrorist past. In fact you could argue his local claim to fame and position derives from that past and not because of it.

Apparently he is also player of some note in Chicagoland politics and is a rainmaker in his local Hyde Park neighborhood, as with his professorship this speaks volumes about the quality of public life in Chicago.

Mr. Ayers is a repugnant figure. He has betrayed the very society that has nurtured him and given him much privilege; instead of giving it support he has instead levied war against it. While the claim that he attacked only property and not people is technically true, it wasn't for the lack of trying. To this day, not only does he remain unrepentant for his past deeds but instead he trades on them in order to profit from the very society he had once and still tries to destroy. I believe another Marxist once remarked about society selling you the hangman's rope. It speaks to a certain sickness in our culture that instead of making the man an outcast, he instead is given a place of honor.

As for Senator Obama, he has remarked that Ayers was simply a man in his neighborhood. Of course, Obama launched his political career in the mid-1990s through a reception held at Ayers' residence. The facts are still fleshing themselves out but it is a reasonable assumption that in order to advance in Mr. Ayers' neighborhood, that you had to kiss his ring. This after all is Chicago. Obama's relationship with Ayers continued through the latter's influence in getting the now Senator appointed to various positions on foundations.

Why does this matter? Isn't this old history? Let's flip the names and relationships a bit. If Senator McCain launched his political career with and benefited from an association with an unrepentant abortion clinic bomber or a member of a Christian Idenity movement, you think that might be front page news? Ask yourself, how far would you go to further career? Isn't there a clear, bright line that

Furthermore, it's not if Mr. Ayers has been silent and mouldering in Chicago, but instead has been involved in many "educational reform" movements that are just now being brought to light.

In one sense, Ms. McArdle is right in that this is overblown because this should have come up during the primaries when Senator Obama was still running as the agent of "hope" and "change." Now that he has the nomination, he can just run as a generic Democrat in a very anti-Republican year.

In another sense, Obama knows this stuff is political dynamite. Witness the attacks and stonewalling when Stanley Kurtz tried to investigate the files of the Annenberg Challenge, on which both Ayers and Obama served. First he was promsied access to the archives housed at a public university, then that access was withdrawn based on the need to gain permission of the donor, and then when that access was later reinstated and Mr. Kurtz went on local Chicago radio to discuss his work the Obama campaign sent out a national alert for campaign supporters to launch the equivalent of a denial of service attack.

Then of course Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod said that the Senator didn't know Ayers' past when attended that initial political meet-and-greet. That sort of response should set off the panic alarm among Obama supporters because no one, not even Obama's supporters in the media, believe that one. Feeding frenzies have been set off on far less and guarantees that this will be a hot topic going into tonight's debate.

So what does this say about Obama? One of two things....

First, that he thinks so little of the radicalism of people like Mr. Ayers' that he thinks nothing of soliciting the man's support.


Second, Senator Obama will do whatever it takes to advance his career even if that means getting ahead by associating with the most odious characters in Chicago public life. The man of "hope" and "change" is nothing but the rankest of opportunists in a field full of them.

I am leaning toward the second.