Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, whose father was famously not so sympathetic to anti-war protesters, is coming to the defense of Barack Obama for his friendship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.
Daley accused Hillary Clinton and other critics of Obama’s association with Ayers of “re-fighting 40 year old battles.” And the mayor noted that he, too “know(s) Bill Ayers” and has “worked with” Ayers on city education reforms.
The mayor released the following statement:
“There are a lot of reasons that Americans are angry about Washington politics. And one more example is the way Senator Obama’s opponents are playing guilt-by-association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers.
“I also know Bill Ayers. He worked with me in shaping our now nationally-renowned school reform program. He is a nationally-recognized distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois/Chicago and a valued member of the Chicago
“I don’t condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep re-fighting 40 year old battles.”
But the Clinton campaign was not about to drop Ayers connection to Obama. Ayers hosted a neighborhood coffee for Obama’s initial 1996 Illinois state Senate run and gave Obama a $200 donation for his state Senate re-election campaign in 2001.
In a conference call with reporters today, Clinton spokesmen Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer sought to maintain that Obama’s political relationship with Ayers was more important than the decision by Clinton’s husband, President Bill Clinton, to commute the sentences of two of Ayers’ former Weather Underground members, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans on terrorist related weapons charges.
Asked if Hillary Clinton had expressed any disagreement with her husband’s actions in commuting the sentences of Rosenberg and Evans, Wolfson said only that he would ask the candidate.
Source. / The Swamp / Chicago Tribune
The Weather Underground: False Debate
By Joseph A. Palermo
It’s a symptom of the malaise of our times when ABC News during a Democratic presidential debate forces us to discuss a candidate’s relations, when he was 8 years old, to a Chicago legal activist who belonged to a 1969 spin-off group of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which dabbled in “revolutionary” bombings of unoccupied (hopefully) buildings in the early 1970s.
If Hillary Clinton thinks it’s a big deal that Barack Obama has crossed paths with Bill Ayres, (Yes, the guy who is with Bernardine Dorhn). I met Ms. Dorhn and Mr. Ayres when I was a visiting professor at Colgate College in Hamilton, New York, when Nigel Young, then the Director of the Peace Studies Program at Colgate invited his former UC Berkeley classmates to speak about their work providing legal services to the poor in Chicago. It’s no big deal.
Guilt By Association. For George Stephanapolous to bring up Ayres and not talk about the social context of the early 1970s that also brought us the Black Panther Party and other groups is to misconstrue the point of the question.
What’s the point of the question?
And for Hillary Clinton to run with the Ayres/Weather Underground connection betrays her “kitchen sink” philosophy. But, as Barack Obama astutely pointed out, President Bill Clinton pardoned two members of the Weather Underground in any case. And the fact is that the Clintons are of the Weatherman generation and Obama is not. It’s the last gasp of Hillary Clinton’s desperation.
It’s also interesting that a more important and radical organization of the early 1970s, the Black Panther Party, featured Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush as its titular head at the time when the legendary Fred Hampton was the inspirational leader. The irony here is that a former leader of the Black Panther Party, Congressman Bobby Rush, badly defeated Barack Obama in the 2000 Democratic congressional primary. “Taking on Bobby Rush among black voters is like running into a buzz saw,” said Ron Lester, a pollster who worked for Obama during the campaign. “This guy was incredibly popular. Not only that, his support ran deep — to the extent that a lot of people who liked Barack still wouldn’t support him because they were committed to Bobby. He had built up this reserve of goodwill over 25 years in that community.” Obama learned an enormous amount from losing big to Bobby Rush.
Why bring up Bill Ayres and the Weather Underground when Obama was 8 years old, living in Indonesia at the time, and in his first attempt at federal office lost to a former Black Panther? If times have progressed to the point where Bobby Rush is a respected member or Congress, why can’t Bill Ayres and his good legal work he has done for the Chicago community be left alone?
(My thanks, once again, to my friend and colleague Dr. Stan Oden for help on this one.)
Source. / Huffington Post / The Rag Blog
Fact Check on Clinton Attacks on Obama and Ayers
April 17, 2008
REALITY: OBAMA WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD WHEN THE WEATHERMEN WERE ACTIVE
Obama Turned Eight In September 1969, The Days Of Rage Occurred In October 1969. Barack Obama was born on September 4, 1961. He turned eight on September 4, 1969. The Days of Rage, in which William Ayers participated, occurred in October 1969. [Obama Birth Certificate, UPI, 10/21/81]
William Ayers Participated In The “Days Of Rage” In 1969. The AP reported, “In the autumn of 1969, the Weatherman, led by Bernardine Dohrn and Mark Rudd, converged on Chicago and planned a series of demonstrations to dramatize their beliefs. The riots, which came to be known as the “Days of Rage,” caused thousands of dollars in damage in the downtown and Near North Side areas and resulted in injuries to several policemen. Rudd and Ms. Dohrn were named in federal riot indictments with ten others — William Ayers, Kathy Boudin, John Jacobs, Jeff Jones, Michael Spiegel, Howard Machtinger, Terry Robins, Lawrence Weiss, Linda Sue Evans and Judy Clark. Another prominent activist, Cathy Wilkerson, was arrested on state charges of mob action and resisting a police officer. Some surrendered years ago. Two — Ms. Dohrn and Ayers, son of the former chairman of Commonweath Edison Co. — surfaced Wednesday. Charges against Ayers had been dropped in 1978 but Ms. Dohrn still faces charges of aggravated battery and jumping bail.” [AP, 12/3/80]
REALITY: AYERS CONNECTION IS “PHONY,” TENUOUS,” “A STRETCH”
Chicago Sun Times: Obama’s Connection To Ayers Is A “Phony Flap”. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote in an editorial, “But Ayers, it is also true to say, has since followed in the footsteps of the great Chicago social worker Jane Addams, crusading for education and juvenile justice reform. His 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, has been praised for exposing how Cook County’s juvenile justice system all but eliminates a child’s chance for redemption. Is Barack Obama consorting with a radical? Hardly. Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is doing good. And while, yes, Obama is friendly with Ayers, it appears to be only in the way of two community activists whose circles overlap. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. That doesn’t make him an Islamic terrorist. He stopped wearing a flag pin. That doesn’t make him unpatriotic. And he’s friendly with UIC Professor William Ayers. That doesn’t make him a bomb thrower. Time to move on to Phony Flap 6,537,204.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/3/08]
Washington Post: Obama-Ayers Link “Is A Tenuous One.” The Washington Post reported in a fact check, “But the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one. As Newsday pointed out, Clinton has her own, also tenuous, Weatherman connection. Her husband commuted the sentences of a couple of convicted Weather Underground members, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, shortly before leaving office in January 2001. Which is worse: pardoning a convicted terrorist or accepting a campaign contribution from a former Weatherman who was never convicted?” [Washington Post, 2/18/08]
Woods Fund President Harrington: “This Whole Connection Is A Stretch.” The Washington Post reported in a fact check, “Whatever his past, Ayers is now a respected member of the Chicago intelligentsia, and still a member of the Woods Fund Board. The president of the Woods Fund, Deborah Harrington, said he had been selected for the board because of his solid academic credentials and ‘passion for social justice.’ ‘This whole connection is a stretch,’ Harrington told me. ‘Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.'” [Washington Post, 2/18/08]
Noam Scheiber Of TNR: “I Don’t See Evidence Of Any Relationship” Between Obama And Ayers. Noam Scheiber of The New Republic wrote, “Ben says Ayers and Obama were, at best, casual friends. Even that seems to overstate things, though. I don’t see evidence of any relationship. The only concrete connection we know of is the meeting, which was attended by a number of local liberals; their contemporaneous membership on the board of a local organization; and a $200-donation by Ayers to one of Obama’s state senate campaigns. (Obama also once praised something Ayers had written about the juvenile justice system.) I’m not saying they couldn’t have been casual friends; just that there isn’t much evidence for that at this point.” [The New Republic, 2/22/08]
Birdsell: Obama Links To Ayers Were “Pretty Slender Ties.” The New York Sun reported, “‘Those are pretty slender ties to a controversial figure,’ the dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, David Birdsell, said of Mr. Obama’s links to Mr. Ayers.” [New York Sun, 2/19/08]
RHETORIC: He was then asked about his association with William Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground, a radical group from the 1960s and ’70s. Ayers was quoted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as saying he did not regret setting bombs and that “we didn’t do enough.” [Washington Post, 4/17/08]
REALITY: AYERS COMMENTS WERE PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 11; THE INTERVIEW OCCURRED PRIOR TO PUBLICATION
On September 11, 2001, A Story About William Ayers’ Memoir Was Published In The New York Times; The Interview Occurred Prior To Publication. “‘I don’t regret setting bombs,’ Bill Ayers said. ‘I feel we didn’t do enough.’ Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago.” [New York Times, 9/11/01]
AYERS IS A TENURED PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO AND WAS A “RESPECTED ADVISOR” TO MAYOR DALEY ON SCHOOL REFORM
Ayers Is A Professor Of Education At UIC. According to his website at UIC, “William Ayers is a school reform activist, Distinguished Professor of Education, and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he teaches courses in interpretive research, urban school change, and youth and the modern predicament. He is the founder of the Center for Youth and Society and founder and co-director of the Small Schools Workshop. A graduate of the Bank Street College of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, he has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education. His interests focus on the political and cultural contexts of schooling as well as the meaning and ethical purposes of teachers, students, and families.” [Ayers UIC Site, Ayers Personal Site, Accessed 5/31/07]
Ayers Advised Chicago Mayor Richard Daley On School Reform Issues. Bill “Ayers is now mainstream — an educator with distinguished professor status. He has written three books about education and has advised Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on the subject of school reform.” [AP, 10/14/01]
Terkel: Ayers Is A “Sensitive And Gifted” Writer And Teacher. Studs Terkel wrote, “William Ayers is as sensitive and gifted a chronicler as he is a teacher.” [Beacon]
AYERS AND DOHRN BECAME RESPECTABLE FIXTURES OF THE MAINSTREAM IN CHICAGO
Bill Ayers And Bernadine Dohrn “Became Respectable Fixtures In Mainstream Liberal Chicago Years Ago.” Alexander Cockburn wrote in and op-ed for the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Late last week, the Clinton campaign was leaking stories about support for Obama from the former Weather Underground couple Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, both of whom became respectable fixtures in mainstream liberal Chicago years ago.” [Las Vegas Review Journal, 3/2/08]
CHARGES AGAINST AYERS WERE DROPPED AND HE SERVED NO TIME
1979: Charges Against Ayers Were Dropped Because “The Government’s Case Was Based On Illegal Wiretaps.” The New York Times reported, “William Ayers was a fugitive, too, for nine of those years, but the Federal charges against him, Miss Dohrn and other members of the revolutionary organization were dropped in 1979, when it was ruled that the Government’s case was based on illegal wiretaps.” [New York Times, 12/5/80]
Ayers “Served No Time.” “William Ayers: Surrendered and pleaded guilty in 1980 to possession of explosives and served no time. Teaches early childhood development at the University of Illinois.” [Boston Globe, 9/19/93]
Also on The Rag Blog: ABC takes hits for slanted, tabloid debate.