Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oh, Wait, He is a Friend

You have to love the L.A. Times' blog coverage of the slowly developing story involving the "Chicago Annenberg Challenge", the non-profit project where young Barack Obama worked with (alleged) terrorist William Ayers...
These annoying journalists are at it again, trying to poke around into papers in the background of candidates' lives. This time it involves freshman Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, his friend and former radical activist William Ayers and the University of Illinois.

The university has refused to release records related to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's past service for a nonprofit educational project that put him in contact with activist Ayers, a 1960s-era radical who helped found an organization adv
ocating violence for political change.

...The university's Chicago campus maintains that the donor of the records that document the work of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge has not officially handed over ownership rights and, therefore, the school cannot open the documents to public inspection.

The university says it is "aggressively pursuing" an agreement with the donor, and as soon as an agreement is reached, the collection will be made accessible to the public.

The university has not identified the donor and not indicated if the opening would occur before the Nov. 4 presidential election.

...The conservative National Review this week posted an article online saying the institution had initially deemed the records open to inspection, but the university subsequently reversed its position. Tuesday, the university said that there had been a misunderstanding.

Ayers is an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In his youth, he co-founded the Weatherman organization, later known as the Weather Underground Organization, which espoused violence in the pursuit of political change.
Obama has acknowledged knowing Ayers but says he can't be held responsible for everything every friend did in their life. Our colleague Mark Silva has more on
this unfolding story over at the Swamp.
I think the Times is trying to be sarcastic about the "annoying journalists" point. But their decision to soft-peddle Ayers' terrorist past is ridiculous. As I have noted in the past, he did more than simply found the group. He planted bombs, for crying out loud. And while he was founding his terrorist organization and blowing up things, John McCain was a POW being tortured and refusing early release. That's not a distinction the Obama campaign wants to have out there. I don't think Obama needs to be held responsible for everything Ayers did, but it would be much better to hear that he's ashamed of being associated in any way with an unrepentant terrorist. Take a look at the picture the L.A. Times posts with its' blog post -- the guy is standing on the American flag. That's not someone I would want as a friend, particularly if I'm running for President.

Tom Maguire has some more links, including to this article by John Kass at the Chicago Tribune, who tells us this is all about Chicago politics...
Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz—researching an article for the National Review about connections between Barack Obama and former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers—made a big mistake.

The poor man took a wrong turn on the Chicago Way. Now he's lost.

Kurtz's research was to be done in a special library run by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The library has 132 boxes full of documents pertaining to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation vested heavily in school reform.

...First the librarians told Kurtz yes, come look. But by the time Kurtz landed in Chicago, the librarians changed their minds. The donor of the documents hadn't cleared his research. Perhaps they'll let him look at the documents on Nov. 5.

..."This is a public entity," Kurtz told us Wednesday. "I don't understand how confidentiality of the donor would be an issue."

You don't understand, Mr. Kurtz? Allow me to explain. The secret is hidden in the name of the library:

The Richard J. Daley Library.


The Richard J. Daley Library doesn't want nobody nobody sent. And Richard J.'s son, Shortshanks, is now the mayor.

...The Tribune's City Hall reporter, Dan Mihalopoulos, asked Daley on Wednesday if the Richard J. Daley Library should release the documents. Shortshanks didn't like that one. He kept insisting he would be "very frank," a phrase that makes the needles on a polygraph start jumping.

"Bill Ayers—I've said this—his father was a great friend of my father," the mayor said. "I'll be very frank. Vietnam divided families, divided people. It was a terrible time of our country. People didn't know one another. Since then, I'll be very frank, [Ayers] has been in the forefront of a lot of education issues and helping us in public schools and things like that."

The mayor expressed his frustrations with outside agitators like Kurtz.

"People keep trying to align himself with Barack Obama," Daley said. "It's really unfortunate. They're friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he's been making a strong contribution to our community."
Hey, if Daley wants to say they're friends, maybe that should be enough -- Obama has a friend who's an unrepentant former (alleged) terrorist. I don't need more.

Even if Kurtz wants more, he may not find much in those boxes. As Instapundit noted:
I caution those who are excited about getting into the archives, though: It probably won't happen, and by now I'm sure that the files have been vacuumed of any seriously embarrassing matter anyway. This is Chicago.
Maybe Obama is more like Kennedy than I thought -- he might end up owing his Presidential election to corrupt antics by a mayor of Chicago named Richard Daley.


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