Jim Geraghty explores Barack Obama’s radical ties with former Weatherman (and I don’t mean in the Willard Scott sense) Bill Ayers who, like the fellow that Wretchard linked to on Wednesday, hasn’t changed his worldview a jot since 1968, other than no longer literally putting his Semtex where his mouth is.
The problem for Obama isn’t that his ties to Ayers are so close (that we know of so far). Ayers hosted a party that was, effectively, the first fundraiser for Obama. They served on the Woods Foundation board together, and he spoke on some panels. That’s not as close a relationship as with, say, his mentor Jeremiah Wright, but it’s a lot closer than most Americans will ever come to a person who set bombs in public buildings.
But what is really revealing about this mess for Obama is that when asked about it, the candidate reacted with a mix of surprise and indignation that we haven’t quite seen since, “I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not.. have… sexual… relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Recall, Clinton’s finger-wagging tone wasn’t striking just for the audacity of the lie, but for the barely-suppressed outrage; Bill seemed genuinely offended that anyone could accuse him of such a thing.
In the case of Obama, he clearly felt that George Stephanolopous asking about this was completely out of bounds. That no one in their right mind could possibly be concerned, disgruntled, or disapproving of associating with someone like William Ayers. As Obama insisted, this is just a professor who lives in his neighborhood.
But the average professor who lives in the neighborhood didn’t set bombs, even a long time ago.
Obama could have easily said, “I met Ayers and worked with him briefly, but I don’t like him. I don’t have any use for those who set bombs, or those who enthusiastically praise the acts of Charles Manson” (as Bernadine Dohrn did). But he didn’t. In this whole set of circumstances, Obama felt that Stephanopolous was the one out of line.