Cutting the Crap: William Ayers

In the last few days, the increasingly desperate McCain campaign, mostly by way of the increasingly annoying Caribou Barbie, has been trying once more to revive an old Sean Hannity chestnut regarding Barack Obama "palling around’ with "domestic terrorist" William Ayers, who was involved with a radical group called "The Weather Underground" nearly 40 years ago, when Barack Obama was 8 years old.

This is complete and utter crap on so many levels, it’s actually shameful that anyone even brings it up. But as long as the right wing smear machine is involved, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. But while we’re at it, let’s cut the crap, shall we?

First of all, according to an investigative report in The New York Times, Obama and Ayers did not have a particularly close relationship at all; Ayers held a couple of small fundraisers for Obama early in his career, and the two crossed paths as community organizers. Obama did not know Ayers when he was 8, and he has repeatedly condemned Ayers’ actions as a 60s radical.

In other words, this is much ado about nothing, with regard to Obama’s contact with Ayers.

But let’s take this in a different direction.

What do we know about William Ayers?

Well, Ayers and his wife were founding members of the Weather
Underground, back in 1969. (Barack Obama was born in 1961. Do the
math.) They participated in several bombings, the last one being in
1970, when several members of the Weather Underground were killed while
assembling a nail bomb. It was then that Ayers and his soon-to-be wife,
Bernadine Dohrn went underground. At that time, no charges had been
filed against Ayers, although some were filed later.

1970, the last time Ayers was involved in any sort of violent activity
(Obama was nine years old), Ayers has been pretty much rehabilitated.

and his wife turned themselves in to authorities in 1980, but by then,
the charges against them had already been dropped, due to prosecutorial
misconduct. Ayers’ family, which was quite prominent in Chicago, given
that his father was CEO at Commonwealth Edison, and a philanthropist,
welcomed him back with open arms.

By 1987, Ayers earned a
doctorate in Education from Columbia University, and since then has
been a professor of Education at the University of Illinois, and has
been instrumental in helping craft Chicago Mayor Daley’s school reform
programs, and since 1999, he has served on the Board of Directors of
the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic organization.

This is what Mayor Daley has to say about Ayers, according to the Times article;

“He’s done a lot of good in this city and nationally,” Mayor Richard M. Daley
said in an interview this week, explaining that he has long consulted
Mr. Ayers on school issues. Mr. Daley, whose father was Chicago’s mayor
during the street violence accompanying the 1968 Democratic National Convention
and the so-called Days of Rage the following year, said he saw the
bombings of that time in the context of a polarized and turbulent era.

Ayers committed some heinous acts when he was younger. There is no
doubt about that, and even Barack Obama has condemned such actions. But
in the nearly 40 years since those acts, Ayers has acquitted himself as
something close to a model citizen.

The federal government blew its chance to charge him and convict him
in a court of law; the evidence against him was tainted by
prosecutorial misconduct. So, under our legal system, he is innocent at
this moment in time. He has also demonstrated remorse for his actions
back then, which runs counter to right wing characterizations of him,
both with his words, such as when he apologized to an attorney who was injured
in the “Days of Rage” incidents, and with his actions since he returned
from his days underground. He and his wife are also acting as legal
guardians to the children of other former Weather Underground members

other words, a 63-year-old man spent about 10% of his adult life
committing some admittedly reprehensible acts, and has spent the other
90% making up for it. A case could be made that he should be in jail,
but the feds screwed it up; what is he supposed to do; check himself
into a jail for 30 years, just to make others happy?

So, here’s
what I want to know. If these right wingers, including McCain are going
to claim “Christian values,” then at what point do they actually follow
Christ’s teaching, and look at the whole of a man’s life, and not just
the negatives? When does a man earn forgiveness? He’s already done more
good with his life than most of the right wingers, including Sean
Hannity, who have been beating this dead horse for the better part of a

And if Obama is guilty of a lack of judgment for
essentially breathing the same air as Bill Ayers, who has never been
convicted of a crime, and who has spent most of his life doing good
works, then what can you say about McCain’s or Hannity’s (or any other
right winger’s) associations with accused and/or convicted felons and
war criminals?








Yes, I know, not all of the above were convicted, but neither was
Ayers. And let’s be real; McCain has closer associations to these
people than Obama ever had with William Ayers, back when Ayers was a
bad guy.

Put it another way; Since Ayers committed his last crime;

  • Gordon Liddy committed a crime and instructed listeners to his radio show of the correct way to kill a federal agent.
  • Charles Keating cheated American depositors of billions of dollars.
  • Rush Limbaugh went doctor shopping and had his maid buy him OxyContin for years.
  • Oliver North lied to Congress, was convicted of lying to Congress, and his conviction was overturned on a technicality.   
  • Scooter Libby was convicted of conspiracy for helping commit treason, outing a covert CIA agent.
  • Karl Rove Outed a covert CIA agent.
  • Jack Abramoff sits in jail for abusing his lobbyist ties, and
    papering the Republican Party with as much money as they could take.
  • There’s a very good chance that Sarah Palin could be recalled as
    Governor of Alaska soon, especially if it’s determined that she abused
    her office, to retaliate against her former brother-in-law.
  • George W. Bush is likely to be charged with war crimes once he leaves office.

If merely being in the same room with William Ayers is questionable
enough to cast doubt on Barack Obama’s character, as the right wing
suggests, then what are we to make of McCain’s close and/or passing
associations with all of the above?

Now; can we get back to talking about the issues?

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