The campaign staff for Senator John S. McCain has released another attack ad against his opponent, Senator Barack Obama.
This repeats the charges that Obama consorts, or has consorted, with Bill Ayers, a former Weather Underground member (and, therefore, a terrorist).
This ad has only (for the moment) appeared as part of news broadcast reports on the election campaigns; the McCain campaign apparently has not spent money to actually air it on their own. That’s an issue in itself:
- The McCain campaign, while not out of funds, has significantly less money to spend than does the Obama campaign
- Money spent to produce an ad is significantly less of an expenditure than the purchase of network television air time
- Releasing an ad to television journalists with the expectation that the ad will be shown by the networks as part of campaign-related stories relieves the campaign of the need to purchase air time for the ad
The down side is, of course, that viewers will have extremely limited exposure to it. On the other hand, any controversy set off by the ad, including counter-arguments, will keep the points it raises in the public’s eye for quite a while.
But, let’s look at the “points” claimed…
Obama’s Blind Ambition: When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers; when discovered, he lied…
Bill Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical, extremist group of the early 1970s. In 1970, the group, which had splintered from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), issued a “Declaration of War” against the US government. They planned or conducted bombings of:
- A non-commissioned officer (NCO) dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey—Weathermen who were to carry out this plan were themselves killed when the bomb exploded at the Greenwich Village brownstone where they were assembling it
- The home of New York State Supreme Court Justice Murtagh (who presided over the trial of 21 Black Panthers)
- Two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn, NY
- A NYC police car
- Landmarks in New York City
- A NYC police station
- A women’s restroom in the Pentagon
The Weather Underground further split into the May 19 Coalition and the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee in the late 1970s. Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, became active with the Prairie Fire Collective and, in consonance with its precepts, came out of hiding and faced the criminal charges against them.
Terrorist or Not?
It’s pretty clear to me that the Weather Underground was a terrorist group. The loss of their comrades (from their own incompetence) in Greenwich Village caused the Weathermen to shift tactics. From that point on, they always announced their targets and warned people to stay away before they set off their bombs. In fact, Bill Ayers used this to deny that the Weathermen were terrorists:
“We were very careful from the moment of the townhouse on to be sure we weren't going to hurt anybody, and we never did hurt anybody. Whenever we put a bomb in a public space, we had figured out all kinds of ways to put checks and balances on the thing and also to get people away from it, and we were remarkably successful.”
But, they still bombed. That’s the mark of terrorists, isn’t it? They set bombs against specific targets, but so do Al Qaeda. So did the Provisional Irish Republican Army and their Protestant counterparts.
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn surrendered themselves in 1980. His public statements since give some evidence of his struggle to reconcile his ideological past with his ideological present. As noted, he claims that the organization of which he was a leader was not terrorist. He has written of his opposition to “all forms of terrorism—individual, group, and official.” He remains leftist in his views, albeit a leftist fully integrated into society. In fact, today he is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education.
Despite Republican claims, the nature of the “relationship” between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers has been frequently discussed in both the objectively conservative and objectively liberal media. These are the facts:
- They were neighbors in the same Chicago community
- Both worked on education reform in Illinois
- Obama was named to the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge;
- Ayers was a co-author of the original, $42M grant awarded by the Annenberg Foundation for the program
- Obama and Ayers served on the board of a community anti-poverty organization, the Woods Fund of Chicago, that met twelve times between 2000 and 2002
In 1995, Ayers hosted a coffee for Obama when he first ran for local office. In 2001, Ayers reportedly contributed the whopping sum of $200.00 toward Obama’s reelection campaign to the Illinois Senate.
Here’s an interesting factoid: Barack Obama was all of eight years old when the Weather Underground set off their bombs.
Congressional liberals fought for sub-prime loans. Congressional liberals fought against more regulation…
Well, it takes balls to put this out. Why?
In 1997, John S. McCain voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed significant portions of the 1930s Glass-Steagall Act by deregulating banks and securities and insurance companies. Ostensibly, the Gramm bill opened these institutions to more competition and, therefore, lower costs and greater benefits to consumers. Witness its affect with our banks and insurance giants, such as AIG.
The sad fact is, that both Democrats and Republicans voted for legislation that enabled the subprime loan crisis that we now experience. That they did this for much different reasons, such as to help the building and lending industries or to help more people obtain housing, is today beside the point.
The point is, Senator, that there’s more than enough blame to share across the aisles.