Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

“Now, no honest person can actually suggest that Obama’s association with Ayers, dating from 1995 when Ayers hosted a fund-raising event for Obama in his living room and including service on the board of the philanthropic Woods Fund of Chicago (along with several Republican business executives from 2001) constitutes “palling around with terrorists.” Journalists from a variety of publications have concluded that Obama had at most a friendly casual acquaintance with a man he knew as a liberal activist. Even “palling around with former terrorists” would be a dubious charge, but that qualifier would weaken the McCain-Palin smear-job effort so Ayer and his wife Bernadine Dohrn become, for campaign purposes, lifetime terrorists.”

In an otherwise quite worthy essay by Gary Leupp: professor of History at Tufts, Mr. Leupp defends Bill Ayers. I tend to quibble: but just a tad.

(I suppose a “tad quibble” qualifies as “double your quibble, double a columnist’s fun…” Guess I “Wriggled” my way out of that rather gummy one, by gum, wriggled… never mind.)

Yes, I have a hard time going quite as far as some in the collegiate community in defending Ayers, not for who he is now… but for who he became in the 60s. Let’s just say I have more than mixed feelings about people who use bombs and violence to achieve a means; whether they be Weathermen or abortion clinic bombers.

By the bye, bye, if Palin and McCain are going to use this somewhat, slight, in passing, mostly eight year old “association” with an Obama pre-denounced Ayers to try to stop their magical disappearing act from succeeding with an Obama win…

If they can grab the ball and run the opposite direction: snatching victory from the jaws of almost every poll…

…then certainly the association Republicans have with abortion clinic violence should come into play, shouldn’t it? At least the Weathermen did their damnedest to make sure no one was actually in the places before they bombed them, not stick a gun in the window of passing clinic workers and slaughter two people in Pensacola: one who was a slight acquaintance of mine, just use one of many, many extreme examples. They were no Eric Rudolfs, or Islamic “pilots.”

I once held a benefit for the campaign of Jesse Jackson because I thought he was adding spice to an otherwise stupidly bland election Dems didn’t have a chance in hell of winning. Does that make me responsible for his equally stupid “hymie” comment he made much later? Does that mean I was in league with those who stuffed the ovens at Auschwitz? This type of “gotcha” politics, in my opinion, should be yet another definition in the dictionary under the word “stupid.”

Does violence really “solve” anything? One might argue “Nam,” but then anti-Choice protesters took these same tactics and put them on steroids. Is the violence “solution” merely just one more way for humanity to do a Linda Blair twist of the head and bite a big chink out of our most downward escape hatch?

Tis a… bit… of a teensie weensie quibble, I admit. If only protesting the social dynamic that makes violence the ultimate game changer would be collectively viewed with anything but a big; “huh,” at the esoteric nature of it all. So I do understand the concept that protesters brought our soldiers and staff back from over there by donning flowers in their hair is both utter balderdash, and sheer nonsense. (Wouldn’t “Sheer Nonsense” make a great brand name pantyhose designed for clowns?) It wasn’t until the system felt threatened that real changes happened. But I simply can’t defend that behavior, whether it be Weatherman or anti-life “Pro-” Lifer. I also can’t defend; as I did in the 60s, the misguided attempt to “free” Nam with violence either, and that goes for the French, the Chinese long before all of this, as well as the Americans. Besides, if we had given Nam to Ho post WWII instead of the heave ho: as promised, maybe yet another bloody page of American, and Vietnamese, history might have been avoided. Ho became a “Commie” of convenience after he helped us in WWII. He read and admired Jefferson, Paine… but decided to take his ball to another court when we tossed him out of the game in favor of our good off and on friends: the French. Talk about an ill-fated choice when choosing sides for that metaphorical game of blood drenched basketball.

Ah, hindsight. We all know it’s a little too convenient and what portal that really arrives from, right?

And if we are going to score my writing, does “metaphor” count when you warn your readers in advance; or is that a simile? Or a “silly me?”

Columnist’s note: After reading the essay, and then typing this, I scrolled down the same page and noted a somewhat similar essay: even down to the metaphor comment. Spooky, huh? I guess; even for myself, tis the season to unintentionally go, “Boo!”


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over thirty years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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RS Janes
15 years ago

Ken, I agree with most of your points here — if Ayers can be held over Obama’s head in an outrageously stupid case of guilt by association, then the activities of G. Gordon Liddy, abortion clinic bombers, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Ted Stevens and Tom DeLay can, by the same standard, be applied to McCain. After all, McCain is a friend of all of these people and a staunch foe of women’s rights which inspires the clinic bombers who, unlike the Weathermen of the ’60s, intend to kill and injure people.

I have my own quibble on one point, but I’m not faulting you for squibbing this one since most of the national media and liberal writers and blogs, including Gary Leupp, have also gotten this wrong.

In 1995, Bill Ayers held an informal coffee at his home for Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer which was also a launch party for her bid for the US Congress. Palmer, not Ayers, invited Obama to this function where he first met Ayers and accepted a $200 personal check from Ayers for his campaign for the State Senate seat replacing the vacating Palmer (with her blessing, at the time). That was the extent of Ayers’ ‘fundraising’ for Obama — one personal check from Ayers himself! Even Rove-lover Mark Halperin acknowledges this:

“In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement. … I can remember being one of a small group of people who came to Bill Ayers’ house to learn that Alice Palmer was stepping down from the senate and running for Congress,’ said Dr. Quentin Young, a prominent Chicago physician and advocate for single-payer health care, of the informal gathering at the home of Ayers and his wife, Dohrn. [Palmer] identified [Obama] as her successor.’ … He described Ayers as a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a former aide to Mayor Richard J. Daley,’ referring to printed reports that he had “advised” Daley on school reform. Dr. Young and another guest, Maria Warren, described it similarly: as an introduction to Hyde Park liberals of the handpicked successor to Palmer, a well-regarded figure on the left.”
The Page by Mark Halperin, TIME, Oct. 26, 2008.
[ Info from Ben Smith, “Obama Once Visited 60s Radicals,” The Politico , 1/22/08.]

“LIE: In 1995, Ayers and Dohrn “hosted a political coming out party for a young Barack Obama.”(Sean Hannity, Hannity’s America, October 5, 2008, “Obama and His Friends: History of Radicalism”)
TRUTH: This was an event for Alice Palmer, not a “coming-out party” for Obama. Obama was invited by Palmer to the event.” […]
“The event wasn’t held primarily for Obama. It was Palmer’s own announcement that she would run for Congress. Obama was there as Palmer’s endorsed successor for her Senate seat, but there’s no evidence that he had any role in deciding to hold it at Ayers’ home.” […]
“LIE: “Obama was feted at a fundraising event” at Ayers’ home.(“Hype: The Obama Effect”)
TRUTH: Obama never had a fundraising event at Ayers’ home.”
— John K. Wilson, “Over Two Dozen Lies Refuted About Ayers And Obama,” Huff Post, Oct. 6, 2008.

TPM has more details on this story in “Ayers, Obama and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.”

This repetition by the Big Media, and even some others like Dr. Leupp who should know better, of the lie that Ayers held a fundraiser at his home for Obama has been rankling me for some time and I thought I’d set you straight on that particular detail.

RS Janes
15 years ago

Many, many years ago, I was at a party hosted by the Chicago Journalism Review and other groups for Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel who both had new books coming out. (I shook hands with Algren, but never got the chance to meet Terkel.)

At any rate, among the guests I talked to were former Black Panthers, a couple of out-and-out Socialist Party members, veterans of the Spanish Civil War, and a couple of people who were blacklisted by the HUAC and Joe McCarthy.

A few of these people I saw again over the years and was friendly with, but we were not what I’d consider friends.

While I wouldn’t mind being called a friend of the brave oldsters who fought in Spain against fascism, or the blacklisted writers and actors, none of whom were commies, BTW, I didn’t agree with the Panthers nor with some of what the Socialists advocated that night yet, by McPalin’s standards, I was in bed with them ideologically.

To be polite: This whole guilt-by-assocaition thing is fucking ridiculous.

RS Janes
15 years ago

Ken, in my experience, whenever they’re losing the argument they go directly to the ‘pinko-commie-socialist-elitist-baby-killer-hate-our-troops-and-America’ tropes. That’s how you can tell they’ve run out of BS.

The All-Mighty Webmaster
15 years ago

RS Janes wrote:

if Ayers can be held over Obama’s head in an outrageously stupid case of guilt by association, then the activities of G. Gordon Liddy, abortion clinic bombers, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Ted Stevens and Tom DeLay can, by the same standard, be applied to McCain.

There is also the Iran-Contra connection — he was doing business with our ‘enemies’.

Here are MY quibbles about the whole Ayers thing. The Right wants to re-open the Ayers/Weatherman thing not as an indictment on Ayers — McCain does have a momentary lapse into honesty on this when he says he doesn’t care about an “aging former terrorist”. This is all a way to tie Obama into something that happened long before Obama was even around and the only way they can do that is to claim that:

1. Ayers is unrepentant, and
2. Ayers wishes he could continue bombing.

Both claims are complete fabrications.

Ayers has both in his books and in interviews apologized for his activities when it came to the bombing. He looks back on it now saying it was not only an effective way to get things done, but it was morally wrong also. But the most blatant lie of the right is when they twist his words by saying he wishes he could have “bombed more”.

That isn’t what he said.

He said — and continues to say — that he felt then as he does now that the Vietnam War was wrong. (hardly a minority view, especially at the time) What he DID say was that he wished he could have done more to stop the war. The Right then infers that he is talking about his bombing activities, even though he specifically says if he had it all to do over again, he WOULDN’T have gone that route.

RS Janes
15 years ago

Good point, DJ, and I have read somewhere that Ayers renounced his activities in his book, but I haven’t read the exact passage. Another thing is that the “wishing he had done more” comment that the wingnuts keep quoting ad nauseum that they attribute to being made AFTER the 9/11 attacks was actually made the day BEFORE 9/11, but not printed in the paper (NYT, I believe) until after the attacks.

Aside from that, McCain keeps defending Liddy by saying that he was tried and served his time. (Yes, I know that Liddy has said some things on his radio show — telling his audience how to kill federal agents, for instance — that would have the right screaming bloody murder if Ayers had said it.) Well, Ayers was tried as well, although he never went to jail. Once again the right-wing Noise Machine’s double standard is in play — if Liddy or Oliver North violate the law and plot criminal conspiracies, they’re heroes; if Ayers does, he an anti-American domestic terrorist.

It’s one of the reasons they’re losing so big this time around — most people are noticing how full of double-standard BS they are.

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