Obama's defense is that he was 8 when Ayers and his Weather Underground comrades were planting bombs at the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol and other buildings. True. But Obama was 40 when Ayers said publicly that he doesn't regret setting bombs. Indeed, he said, "I feel we didn't do enough."
Would you maintain friendly relations with an unrepentant terrorist? Would you even shake his hand? To ask why Obama does is perfectly legitimate and perfectly relevant to understanding what manner of man he is.
Obamaphiles are even more exercised about the debate question regarding the flag pin. Now, I have never worn one. Whether anyone does is a matter of total indifference to me. But apparently not to Obama. He's taken three affirmative steps in regard to flag pins. After 9/11, he began wearing one. At a later point, he stopped wearing it. Then last year he explained why: Because it "became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security."
Apart from the self-congratulatory fatuousness of that statement -- as if in this freest of all countries, political self-expression is somehow scarce or dangerous or a sign of patriotic courage -- to speak of pin-wearing as a sign of inauthentic patriotism is to make an issue of it yourself. For Obamaphiles to now protest the very asking of the question requires a fine mix of cynicism and self-righteousness.
But Obama needs to cast out such questions as illegitimate distractions because they are seriously damaging his candidacy. As people begin to learn about this just-arrived pretender, the magic dissipates. He spent six weeks in Pennsylvania. Outspent Hillary more than two to one. Ran close to 10,000 television ads -- spending more than anyone in any race in the history of the state -- and lost by 10 points.
And not because he insufficiently demagogued NAFTA or the other "issues." It was because of those "distractions" -- i.e., the things that most reveal character and core beliefs.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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