The reunion came, allegedly, at the wedding of MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner to White House chef Sam Kass, a Chicago native who apparently is himself pals with Ayers and Dohrn. Per Ace, Obama’s encounter with the “good” terrorists happened just a few days after the “bad” terrorists in ISIS murdered James Foley.
We recently heard that Ayers and Dohrn, both former leaders of the Weather Underground, the militant left-wing group best known for bombing empty government buildings in the 1970s, were also present for the Wagner-Kass celebration at the Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant and event space in Pocantico Hills, New York.
While the fact that Obama was literally partying with former advocates of violent struggle against the U.S. government will no doubt be taken by his critics as further evidence that he hates America, the most interesting thing about the wedding is the shocking proof it offers that—at long last!—Obama truly no longer gives a fuck about keeping up political appearances. It’s unthinkable that the Obama of the 2008 or 2012 campaigns would have been permitted to go anywhere near Ayers or Dohrn, for fear of fueling the unhinged right-wing narrative that he is a radical leftist…
While the Obama White House obviously no longer cares about serving up softballs to the Drudge set—indeed, the decision to party with Ayers borders on active trolling—his Secret Service may have taken a different view. According to the Washington Post, the agency typically bars “people with…arrests or convictions for assault and related offenses or any history of mental illness…from having any access to the president.” Even though Dohrn can hardly be regarded as presenting a threat to anyone these days, her conviction for aggravated battery—reportedly related to an attack on a police officer at a Chicago protest in 1969—is the sort of history that the president’s protectors would normally take an interest in. The Secret Service declined to answer questions about the wedding.
Basic wedding etiquette requires that you not ask guests if they’ve ever tried to blow up American soldiers at a dance, so any awkward moments between the commander-in-chief and the former Weatherman (assuming they spoke at all) were presumably avoided.
Three points. One: Ayers likes to brandish what’s left of his graying radical chic by telling interviewers that modern U.S. presidents, Obama included, are war criminals who should be put on trial. What a guy who professes to believe that is doing hobnobbing with the president at a wedding reception, I don’t know. Who would party with someone they sincerely believe to be a war criminal? Elite left-wing society events are the great equalizer, I guess, a place where imperialist warmongers and violent subversives can put aside their differences, find some statist common ground, and enjoy the excellent thousand-dollar yay-populism champagne.
Two: The idea that Obama’s association with Ayers proves he’s a radical leftist is the strong-form objection to their association. (And unnecessary. If you want evidence that he’s trending radical, look no further than his ipse dixit in summarily rewriting American immigration law.) The more limited objection is that, whether he endorses what Ayers did or not, Obama obviously doesn’t have so much of a problem with it that he’d avoid all contact with him. Steve Scalise ate boatloads of sh*t a few weeks ago for once speaking at an event that he may not have even known was sponsored by one of David Duke’s organizations, and which may not in fact have been sponsored by the organization. A black House Democratic colleague from Louisiana vouched for Scalise, declaring that he didn’t have a racist bone in his body. Didn’t matter. Scalise took a beating on the left for weeks. With Obama and Ayers, you’ve got the president of the United States, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, shrugging off his friendship with a guy who belonged to a group accused of targeting soldiers for death. If Ted Cruz was unrepentant palsies with someone who tried to bomb an abortion clinic, would it be sufficient to say “Senator Cruz doesn’t agree with those tactics”?
Three: Gawker’s precisely right about the takeaway from this. In ways very, very large (ahem) and very, very small (ahem), Obama’s entered the WGAF stage of his presidency. There’s no way he’d have chanced encountering Ayers when his own ass was on the line electorally in 2008 and 2012; I’m amazed, actually, that he’d have chanced it last summer with the midterms just months away and Democrats desperate not to be hit with more bad news. But then Obama’s always cared much more about Barack Obama’s political viability than he has about the Democratic Party’s. In fact, the news about him running into Ayers last year is a bit like Axelrod admitting that O privately supported gay marriage in 2008 even while he was telling voters otherwise. In both cases, O was willing to show his true feelings only after he’d calculated that the political risk to him had dissipated. With gay marriage, that meant lying about his faith; with Ayers, it meant pretending that “palling around” with a terrorist was an innocent mistake he’d made in the past, an artifact of moving in similar social circles in Chicago.
Anyway. When’s the big Oval Office reunion with Reverend Wright?