Obama, apparently bitter, called last Wednesday's debate a "gotcha" game. He was unhappy with being questioned about his association with former (but unrepentant) terrorist William Ayers. Since it didn't have "anything to do with how you pay your bills at the end of the month", it was irrelevant:
Obama faced his toughest grilling yet - asked about his patriotism, his statements about "bitter" working-class voters, and anti-American remarks by his pastor. The newest line of questioning was over his association with former Weather Underground member William Ayers, whose group planned bombs at the Capitol and the Pentagon.
"That was the roll-out of the Republican campaign against me in November," Obama said. "They will try to focus on all these issues that don't have anything to do with how you pay your bills at the end of the month."
When we elect a president, we are electing a whole person. It's all well and good to tell people how you're going to help them pay their bills, although that's really not the role of the President of the United States. We need to know more. More than just issues. Anyone can give a speech and talk about issues. Talk, as they say, is cheap. We need to know the man behind the words. We need to know his history. No one has a perfect resume, we all have skeletons in our closets, things we're not proud of, things we regret. We all also change our minds from time to time. It's unfortunate that some of these otherwise explainable things get exploited in presidential campaigns, but that's the nature of the beast. Honesty is the best policy. It does, however, get a bit complicated when a pattern forms. When that history includes not just the mistakes and misjudgments we all make but also a series of dots that beg to be connected.
Jeremiah Wright's sermons are full of racist, anti-America rhetoric. Yet Obama won't disown him:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
Okay, so don't disown him. But why give him legitimacy by attending his church for twenty years? Why make excuses because, well, some years ago his white grandmother was no better? The truth is, whether he disowns him or not, he can't disown his own actions. Had he attended his church for a few weeks, or months, maybe. Twenty years? Kind of hard to disassociate yourself with that. He can't disown Wright without disowning himself. So he gives a pretty little speech and we're all supposed to just move on.
Obama's defense of his association with William Ayres is troubling as well:
"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 said. He added that to suggest "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."
Obama went on, "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?"
It's obvious Obama was expecting the question and had his "Tom Coburn" response ready. Despicable. I'm trying to remember when Coburn bombed that abortion clinic. I just don't remember that happening. Moral equivalence, Obama style. Despicable:
This exercise in moral equivalence is unconvincing, if not dishonest. Would Obama be friendly with someone who actually bombed abortion clinics and defends that conduct? Not likely. But he is friendly with William Ayers, a leader of the radical Weather Underground, which in the 1970s carried out numerous bombings, including one inside the U.S. Capitol....
Obama minimized his relationship by acknowledging only that he knows Ayers. But they have quite a bit more of a connection than that. He's appeared on panels with Ayers, served on a foundation board with him and held a 1995 campaign event at the home of Ayers and his wife, fellow former terrorist Bernardine Dohrn. Ayers even gave money to one of his campaigns.
It's not as though Ayers and Dohrn have denied or repudiated their crimes. After emerging from years in hiding, they escaped federal prosecution because of government misconduct in gathering evidence, but they don't pretend they were innocent. In 2001, Ayers said, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
Dohrn has likewise rationalized the explosions, claiming that "our acts of resistance were tiny and symbolic." She even went to prison for refusing to testify about an armored-car robbery involving her confederates. That crime was not tiny or symbolic to the two police officers or the security guard who were shot to death in the process.
All this is public record, and Barack Obama would have to be in a coma not to know it. Yet he showed no qualms about consorting with Ayers and Dohrn.
Let's not forget Obama's "association" with Tony Rezko, the indicted fund-raiser who had something or other to do with Obama's purchase of his (Obama's) house. Obama finally figured out how much Rezko donated to his political campaigns, it took a while:
For the first time, Sen. Barack Obama put a figure Friday to the amount of campaign contributions that indicted political fund-raiser Tony Rezko raised for the senator's campaigns, and the number -- about $250,000 -- was far more than he previously acknowledged.
"We believe we have identified all money that is traceable. ... It's hard for me to know precisely. I don't have the capacity to go back and figure out who did he raise money from. There might be additional dollars,'' Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in an 80-minute interview that focused on his 17-year relationship with Rezko, who has become a lingering issue as Obama seeks the Democratic nomination for president.
But, of course, questions about Obama's "associations" are out of bounds. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to connect those dots. Do not attempt to get a true picture of the man. It's the words that matter.
***Update 10:00PM CT***
The editors at Investor's Business Daily:
During the debate, Obama had said, "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 Coburn's statements?"
No, Sen. Obama, just your own, including this latest round. Coburn may be pro-life, but — unlike Ayers — he never acted violently on his beliefs. Coburn, a doctor who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, never bombed an abortion clinic. The Oklahoman made his remark in the context of abortion being made illegal, which it isn't. As someone once said of another famous senator: Sen. Obama, have you no shame?