And that is how the issue should be framed. William Ayers was a terrorist, and as of a few years ago, --if we believe the New York Times-- an unrepentant terrorist.
Does it matter? On Wednesday night, Obama made the case that it didn't in this exchange with George Stephanopoulos:
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, if you get the nomination, you'll have to -- (applause) -- (inaudible).
I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He's never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."
An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?
SEN. OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about.
This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.
And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.
The fact is, is that I'm also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate, who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.
Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn's statements? Because I certainly don't agree with those either.
So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow -- somehow their ideas could be attributed to me -- I think the American people are smarter than that. They're not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn't.
Hillary Clinton wasn't buying Obama's attempt to dodge the implications of Obama's freindship with a terrorist. Here's what she added:
SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think that is a fair general statement, but I also believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid directorship position.
And if I'm not mistaken, that relationship with Mr. Ayers on this board continued after 9/11 and after his reported comments, which were deeply hurtful to people in New York, and I would hope to every American, because they were published on 9/11 and he said that he was just sorry they hadn't done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died. So it is -- you know, I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about. And I have no doubt -- I know Senator Obama's a good man and I respect him greatly but I think that this is an issue that certainly the Republicans will be raising.
That's where the issue sits as we head into the last lap in the Keystone State full of bitter, gun-toting, illegal-immigrant hating Jesus freaks. But it is too bad that neither Stephanopoulos or Charles Gibson followed up on the subject of the significance of Ayers.
One of the key questions for a president is where do you draw your team from? Who are your friends? What and who influenced you?
We know that indicted and in-the-dock now Tony Rezko influenced Barack Obama --Rezko is Obama's mentor and financier, enabling the not-yet-wealthy Obamas to buy a house.
We know Jeremiah Wright was Obama's mentor and pastor influenced Obama, and despite the many attempts by Obama to rewrite his own history, the friendship between Obama and Wright is deep and significant.
So now we come to Ayers. Here's the opening of the wikipedia entry on Ayers as of this writing:
William C. ("Bill") Ayers (born 1944) is a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was a 1960s-era political activist and former member of the Weather Underground.
Ayers is the son of Thomas Ayers, former Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison. He grew up in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, and attended Lake Forest Academy. According to his memoir, he became radicalized at the University of Michigan where he became involved in the New Left and the SDS. He briefly worked as a schoolteacher.
Ayers joined the Weather Underground in 1969, but went underground with several associates after the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion in 1970 which killed three members (Ted Gold, Terry Robbins, and Diana Oughton, who was Ayers' girlfriend at the time). While underground, he and fellow member Bernardine Dohrn had two children, Zayd and Malik. They were purged from the group in the mid-1970s, and turned themselves in to the authorities in 1981. All charges against him were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct during the long search for the fugitives. They married, and later became legal guardians of Chesa Boudin, the biological son of former Weathermen David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin, after his parents were arrested for their part in the Brinks robbery (1981). In the 1980s Ayers undertook graduate training in education and earned his doctorate in 1987. He has served on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, a anti-poverty philanthropic foundation, since 1999. He has edited and written many books and articles on education theory, policy and practice.
So, what does Obama think of this past and its significance for the present? More critically, what do mainstream American voters think?
When will the MSM get around to a sustained examination of Obama's ideological history? Thus far the farthest left major party candidate in American political history has received the least scrutiny of any modern near nominee of a major party.