The truth is, however, that the chairman of NEH has to sign off on its national funds going to the local council. Even though they may have recommended that they cancel the dinner, Jim Leach, the NEH chairman, did not denounce the dinner, nor did he publicly dissociate NEH from the endeavor, even though its name is used by the Council in such sponsorship. One can argue that by failing to do that, Leach implicitly condoned it, especially since until now, no one even knew that NEH advised — but did not insist — that they not hold the event. A call to Jim Leach was not returned.
As for what happened at the dinner, it is clear that Tucker Carlson did not get his money’s worth. He had intended to have a discussion on what the relationship was between Barack Obama and Ayers and Dohrn when Obama lived in Hyde Park. Many have speculated that the couple had a close relationship with the man who is now our president.
At the Daily Caller website, editor Jamie Weinstein provides an account of what transpired. As Weinstein writes, “on Super Bowl Sunday former Weather Underground leaders and Obama friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn feted The DC to an elaborate gourmet meal at the home of a very rich friend to fulfill the obligations of a charity auction won by Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson.” Held at an “extravagant penthouse,” those present included the apartment’s owner, Lisa Yun Lee, and Univ. of Chicago history professor Adam Green, who is also a board member of the Illinois Humanities Council.
If they really intended to learn anything, it was clear that their goal would not be met. As Weinstein puts it, they were “guarded and seeking to avoid controversial topics,” something which the couple rarely appears guarded about — except when they know they are in the presence of ideological opponents. What they got is a disingenuous claim by Dohrn that she is “disenchanted with politics,” and the statement from Ayers that “I find some unity with Ron Paul,” about which he did not elaborate.
Given Ron Paul’s very left-leaning isolationist foreign policy, especially his claim that Iran is hardly a threat to the United States, an affinity by Ayers to Paul should be expected. The one time Tucker Carlson tried to confront Dohrn and Ayers about their past with the Weather Underground and terrorism, she and Ayers responded that the questions were irrelevant and ancient history. “Read something contemporary,” Ayers responded.
Had I been there, I would have seized that moment to ask the couple about their support of Hamas and Hezbollah, and their prime role in organizing the Hamas-backed flotillas to Israel for the “Free Gaza Movement,” for which they had been scheduled to be part of. I would have also asked Ayers about his recent blurb for his imprisoned comrade David Gilbert’s new book, and his reference to Gilbert’s incarceration in what Ayers calls “the American gulag,” and his belief that his former comrade — in prison for life in his role in the Brinks robbery that killed two police officers — is a political prisoner and a fellow fighter for social justice. You can’t get more contemporary than that. (Ayers and Dohrn raised Gilbert and Kathy Boudin’s son Chesa since both were in prison)