In the most recent debate between Hillary and Obama, as they continue to be locked in mortal combat in what amounts to a dead tie, moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Barack the following question:
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?
Now, for those of us who were not paying attention to politics during the 1970s, a quick recap is in order. The Weather Underground was one of several extreme leftist groups that considered merely protesting the Vietnam War to be too wimpy; a more active approach was called for.
William Ayers, son of the CEO of New York's Consolidated Edison utility company, was a member of this group. In his memoir,
He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972.
It is only through great good fortune that nobody was killed in these attacks, although his girlfriend at the time blew up herself and two other people while assembling more bombs at home. He benefited from this luck too, though; since his terrorism had no casualties, the law of the day had a very short statute of limitations. He wasn't caught and tried within five years, so has not had to answer for these actions in a court, and never will.
In the years since, he married Bernardine Dohrn, an even more notorious terrorist, and became a professor at a Chicago college. When Mr. Obama started his political career, he apparently felt the murderous Mr. Ayers' endorsement was worth pursuing. Ayers held a campaign event for him at his house, and others have reported the men to be "friends."
But in the debate, Obama pooh-poohed the connection:
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.
He didn't mention the fact that they served together on the board of a charity. He also didn't mention that Ayers' foul deeds are not entirely in the past. On September 11, 2001, of all days, Mr. Ayers was published in the New York Times as saying:
"I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough."
So we have Obama being friendly towards an admitted terrorist bomber who has no regrets for his actions. The acts of terrorism took place decades ago; still, one wonders how the Democrats would feel about a Republican politician who pondered political strategy with Bull Connor of Birmingham police-dog fame, or with Eric Rudolph the abortion-clinic bomber.
The fact of the matter is, Barack Obama has a point. It's not fair for him to be asked about his association with known terrorists in the context of a Democratic debate. Hillary tried to take advantage of the question, but Obama pointed out that she was the pot calling the kettle black: her own husband, President Bill Clinton, commuted the sentences of Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans, both Weather Underground members who had actually succeeded in killing innocent victims! What's more, he pardoned an additional 16 members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN, who set off 120 bombs in New York and Chicago, killing 6 people and maiming more.
If anything, the FALN pardons are fruitier: Clinton offered the pardons on condition that they renounced violence, but the killers took the pardons, walked free, and refused to make any such statement! They're still strolling the streets of our fair land to this day.
Nor is this affinity for terrorists confined to the current Democratic candidates. This very week, ex-President Jimmy Carter is over in the Middle East meeting with the terrorist group Hamas! He's bouncing from the West Bank, to Egypt, and then up to Syria (a state supporter of terrorism) to have tea with Khalid Mashaal, Hamas' leader, who has taken responsibility for countless deaths in Hamas-sponsored suicide bombings. The editorial cartoon pretty much sums it all up.
It's been said that you can know a man by the company he keeps; their associations with terrorists doesn't speak well for the Democratic candidates. Obama is completely right in saying that the question of associating with terrorists didn't belong at the Democratic debate. There's nothing to debate about: none of the major Democratic candidates have any problem with murderous terrorists, as long as it's Americans or Israelis that they kill.
The appropriate time for that question is in the general election debates; let's see what John McCain has to say about these friends of Democrats. After all, he's spent more time in the immediate presence of evil than all the Democrats combined - but unlike them, he knows evil for what it is, and knows there's only one way to deal with evil: fight until your dying breath.