Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Ayers

Ben Smith of Politico discusses the relationship between Barack Obama and American terrorist Bill Ayers, who has become a leftist mainstay in Chicago’s Hyde Park, which Obama represented in the Illinois State Senate before becoming a U.S. Senator. Ayers’s home has evidently become an important political waystation for politicians of a certain sort, and it was there, according to Smith, that Obama’s predecessor introduced him to various neighborhood activist types.

Ayers now teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago. That’s an outrage in and of itself, but at least he does not teach bombmaking, the craft that what made him infamous. Ayers was a Weatherman, and was resident in a Greenwich Village townhouse where his lovely group was working on a bomb intended to kill army personnel at Fort Dix in 1970. Fortunately, the device destroyed the Greenwich Village townhouse where it was being assembled and killed three of the bomb assemblers instead of innocents.

Ayers and his companion-wife, Bernadine Dohrn, went on the lam, and while she was sent to jail in connection with a Brinks truck robbery a decade later, he was never prosecuted owing to the kinds of objections about the FBI surveillance of his group that helped create the backlash against liberalism in this country in the 1970s and eventually gave rise to the Reagan era.

Smith says he couldn’t get anyone on the Obama campaign to comment, nor Ayers. Someone who was at the 1995 gathering at Ayers’s house, Smith notes, “described Obama and Ayers as ‘friends,’ but there’s no evidence their relationship is more than the casual friendship of two men who occupy overlapping Chicago political circles, and served together on the board of a Chicago foundation.”

Ayers was last in the news when the New York Times published an article about how wonderful he and Bernadine Dohrn were, and how they had adopted the child of cop-killer Kathy Boudin. The piece in question, which began with Ayers saying

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”

appeared in the New York Times on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Barack Obama is in no way responsible for anything William Ayers might have said or done, and anyone who suggests otherwise is guilty of demagougery.

But here’s a thought experiment. What if John McCain had visited the Unabomber’s cabin? Or had been photographed with Terry Nichols? Or had stopped off at David Duke’s house at some point because he was gathering support and donors?

How big a story would that be?