Ben Smith reports on the Obama campaign’s response to National Review writer Stanley Kurtz’s digging into theÂ newly released Annenberg Foundation project files for more information on the O-man’s relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers:
Barack Obama’s campaign hasn’t advertised this a great deal this week, but the campaign’s “Action Wire” has been waging large-scale campaigns against critics. That includes tens of thousands of e-mails to television stations running Harold Simmons’ Bill Ayers ad, and to their advertisers — including a list of major automobile and telecommunications companies.
And tonight, the campaign launched a more specific campaign: an effort to disrupt the appearance by a writer for National Review, Stanley Kurtz, on a Chicago radio program. Kurtz has been writing about Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers, and has suggested that papers housed at the University of Illinois at Chicago would reveal new details of that relationship.
The campaign e-mailed Chicago supporters who had signed up for the Obama Action Wire with detailed instructions including the station’s telephone number and the show’s extension, as well as a research file on Kurtz, which seems to prove that he’s a conservative, which isn’t in dispute. The file cites a couple of his more controversial pieces, notably his much-maligned claim that same-sex unions have undermined marriage in Scandinavia.
“Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse,” says the email, which picks up a form of pressure on the press pioneered by conservative talk radio hosts and activists in the 1990s, and since adopted by Media Matters and other liberal groups.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz’s lies,” it continues.
The Volokh Conspiracy’s Jim Lindgren notices something strange about this: The fact that the Obama campaign has denounced Stanely KurtzÂ “to a much greater extent”Â than they’ve everÂ haveÂ Ayers.Â In fact, whatÂ is written about Ayers on Obama’s own website? After trying to downplay the connection between Obama and Ayers, it says:
AYERS IS A TENURED PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO AND WAS A “RESPECTED ADVISOR” TO MAYOR DALEY ON SCHOOL REFORMÂ
Ayers Is A Professor Of Education At UIC. According to his website at UIC, “William Ayers is a school reform activist, Distinguished Professor of Education, and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he teaches courses in interpretive research, urban school change, and youth and the modern predicament. He is the founder of the Center for Youth and Society and founder and co-director of the Small Schools Workshop. A graduate of the Bank Street College of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, he has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education. His interests focus on the political and cultural contexts of schooling as well as the meaning and ethical purposes of teachers, students, and families.” [Ayers UIC Site, Ayers Personal Site, Accessed 5/31/07]
Ayers Advised Chicago Mayor Richard Daley On School Reform Issues. Bill “Ayers is now mainstream — an educator with distinguished professor status. He has written three books about education and has advised Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on the subject of school reform.” [AP, 10/14/01]
Terkel: Ayers Is A “Sensitive And Gifted” Writer And Teacher. Studs Terkel wrote, “William Ayers is as sensitive and gifted a chronicler as he is a teacher.” [Beacon]Â
CHARGES AGAINST AYERS WERE DROPPED AND HE SERVED NO TIMEÂ
1979: Charges Against Ayers Were Dropped Because “The Government’s Case Was Based On Illegal Wiretaps.” The New York Times reported, “William Ayers was a fugitive, too, for nine of those years, but the Federal charges against him, Miss Dohrn and other members of the revolutionary organization were dropped in 1979, when it was ruled that the Government’s case was based on illegal wiretaps.” [New York Times, 12/5/80]
Ayers “Served No Time.” “William Ayers: Surrendered and pleaded guilty in 1980 to possession of explosives and served no time. Teaches early childhood development at the University of Illinois.” [Boston Globe, 9/19/93]
Emphasis added by them.
Obama himself has stated that he was 8Â years oldÂ when the Weather Underground was committing the terrorist acts they became infamous for.Â But that is not the point, and he and his handlers damn well know it.Â Who here amongs us thinks Obama is a terrorist himself for associating with Ayers? I certainly don’t, and I doubt most readers believe that, either.Â Â Â
This has nothing to do with believing that an 8 year old Obama agreed at the time with Ayers; rather, it’s about the fact that as an adult and an influential member of the Chicago political scene Barack Obama not only launched his politcal career at the home of the unrepentant Ayers, but alsoÂ maintained a relationship with Ayers through his Illinois Senate years and beyond.Â Furthermore, that Obama has been so reluctant to address the specifics on his relationship with Bill Ayers – at one point merely referring to him as a “neighbor” in an attemptÂ to downplay his associationÂ – leads to more questions than answers.Â What questions, you may ask?
Questions about judgement.Â Isn’t that what Obama’s tried to make this election about?Â It’s well-documented that he’s got one radical tie after another, but so far the only radical tie I’ve seen him throwÂ under the bus is his “former” pastor andÂ longtime spiritual mentorÂ Rev. Wright.Â Why won’t Barack Obama denounceÂ William Ayers in no uncertain terms rather than trying to paint him as a “respectable” figure in the Chicago community?Â
His lack of willingness to do so explains quite a bit.Â Â After all, if he’s willing to speak directly to and associate on a longterm withÂ the likes ofÂ Bill Ayers, it’s no wonder he’s so willing to engage in unconditional talks with some of theÂ world’s most notorious dictators.Â Â What’s the problem? I mean, they’ve done “some” good at some point in their lives.Â Why hold their most evil moments against them?
Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, the video Barack Obama doesn’t want you to see:
As I’ve done before, I am encouraging everyone reading this post and watching that video to click the “Email this post” link below and send it to as many people you think will be receptive to reading the commentary and watching the video.Â Â Barack Obama needs to know that his refusal to directly address hard questions about his ties to Bill Ayers, and his assault on the First Amendment will not go unanswered by his critics.