Why the Obama-Ayers connection matters

Steve Chapman takes Barack Obama to task over his dodge about the relationship between himself and William Ayers. Not only does Obama misrepresent the connection, Chapman writes, he appears not to understand what it says about him and his judgment. The Chicago Tribune columnist offers a handy analogy for those who still don’t comprehend it:

Would Obama be friendly with someone who actually bombed abortion clinics and defends that conduct? Not likely. But he is friendly with William Ayers, a leader of the radical Weather Underground, which in the 1970s carried out numerous bombings, including one inside the U.S. Capitol. (Though the last person who should object is Hillary Clinton, whose husband pardoned two Weather Underground members.)

Obama minimized his relationship by acknowledging only that he knows Ayers. But they have quite a bit more of a connection than that. He’s appeared on panels with Ayers, served on a foundation board with him and held a 1995 campaign event at the home of Ayers and his wife, fellow former terrorist Bernardine Dohrn. Ayers even gave money to one of his campaigns.

It’s not as though Ayers and Dohrn have denied or repudiated their crimes. After emerging from years in hiding, they escaped federal prosecution because of government misconduct in gathering evidence, but they don’t pretend they were innocent. In 2001, Ayers said, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” …

It’s hard to imagine he would be so indulgent if we learned that John McCain had a long association with a former Klansman who used to terrorize African-Americans. Obama’s conduct exposes a moral blind spot about these onetime terrorists, who get a pass because they a) fall on the left end of the spectrum and b) haven’t planted any bombs lately.

You can tell a lot about someone from his choice of friends. What this friendship reveals is that when it comes to practicing sound moral hygiene, Obama has work to do and no interest in doing it.

What would the Left say if McCain had sat on nonprofit foundation boards with David Duke and sent money to Holocaust deniers? McCain couldn’t have won the nomination in the first place, as such a connection would have repulsed Republicans, and it simply is outside the character of McCain to tolerate that. If he had, Democrats would have a field day with it — and rightly so.

However, Obama and the Left want to demand an end to the probing of the years-long Obama-Ayers association as irrelevant. Never mind that Ayers has openly bragged of bombing the Pentagon. Never mind that Obama and Ayers voted to give $75,000 to Rashid Khalidi, a Yasser Arafat protege in the PLO, during their tenure with the Woods Foundation. The difference apparently is in the target of one’s hatreds; as long as the hatred was directed at the American government, the Left believes it to be irrelevant.

It’s an interesting double standard, and one that Americans might see as very revealing in November.