Guilt by association or a verdict on judgment?

Barack Obama has spent the last year explaining why his lack of experience is an asset for his candidacy for the White House. Experience doesn’t make up for judgment, he has told rapturous audiences. His judgment outweighs the slightly longer experience of Hillary Clinton and the vastly superior experience of John McCain because he won’t be obligated by decades of connections in the Beltway environment.

Now, however, his campaign has suddenly balked at looking at Obama’s connections outside the Beltway. Calling that “guilt by association”, they have pushed back against criticism of Obama’s political and personal connections to people like Jeremiah Wright, William Ayer, and Rashid Khalidi. Andrew McCarthy puts all of them together into a single coherent narrative that explains the sudden offensive from Team Obama:

Why is Barack Obama so comfortable around people who so despise America and its allies? Maybe it’s because they’re so comfortable around him.

He presents as the transcendent agent of “change.” Sounds platitudinous, but it’s really quite strategically vaporous. Sen. Obama is loath to get into the details of how we should change, and, as the media’s Chosen One, he hasn’t had to.

But he’s not, as some hopefully dismiss him, a charismatic lightweight with a gift for sparkling the same old vapid cant. Judging from the company he chooses to keep, Obama’s change would radically alter this country. He eschews detail because most Americans don’t believe we’re a racist, heartless, imperialist cesspool of exploitation. The details would be disqualifying.

McCarthy provides the details. Included among them:

  • The connection to William Ayers was no accident of geography. Michelle Obama picked him to sit on a panel with Barack in 1997 on juvenile crime, two years after meeting with them for support in his race for the state senate.
  • They participated in a panel together called “Intellectuals in Times of Crisis” in 2002, well after Ayers’ comments about being unrepentant for his terrorism got published on 9/11. Bernadine Dohrn participated in a panel at the same event.
  • Ayers and Dorhn joined the Obamas in celebrating the departure of Rashid Khalidi to a new post at Columbia University, after Ayers and Obama helped get Woods Foundation funds to Khalidi’s AAAN, to the tune of $75,000. Khalidi was a fanatical supporter of Yasser Arafat and a purported operative of the PLO. Khalidi hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2000 as well.

These aren’t just “associations”; these are associates in every sense of the word. As the candidate who wants to criticize the strings attached to his opponents through years in the Beltway, he had better expect the same kind of scrutiny for his connections during years in the hard-Left movement in Chicago. And for a man who asks us to trust his judgment without having established any kind of track record, it’s almost laughable that he finds our questions about his judgment in selecting his political associates out of bounds.

Be sure to read all of McCarthy’s excellent column.