Mark Halperin of Time magazine conducted an intelligent and revealing interview with Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser for Barack Obama’s campaign, which can be seen here.
Mr. Halperin’s question was straightforward. At some point Barack Obama learned that William Ayers was a domestic terrorist and was unrepentant about it, Halperin says, yet at a minimum Obama continued to associate professionally (and perhaps personally) with Ayers after knowing about his past. Halperin then asks if it’s therefore reasonable to conclude that Obama, while having deplored the violent acts of Ayers, felt it was fine to continue to have professional associations with a domestic terrorist. The answer, of course, is yes – and watching Mr. Gibbs squirm and evade that simple, direct question tells you everything you need to know.
One wishes that Senator McCain, or Tom Brokaw, or Bob Schieffer, or Jim Lehrer, or anyone else in the press would ask that same question of Senator Obama, in just the same way that Halperin did. It would be an illuminating response.
It’s up to voters to decide how much weight they want to put on Senator Obama’s association with Bill Ayers. Some may believe it should matter a lot, some may believe it should matter a little, and some may believe it shouldn’t matter at all. But that association, like the associations with the Reverend Wright and Tony Rezko, are part of Obama’s history and deserve to be discussed in a temperate, reasonable, factual way. Mark Halperin attempted to do just that. Team Obama’s evasive and clumsy response simply raises additional doubts about its candidate and his past. If there’s a simple explanation to Obama’s past associations, it would be helpful to hear what it is.