In the best tradition of Bill Clinton's famous declaration that the answer to the question of whether or not he was having an affair with Monica depended on "what the definition of 'is' is," Barack Obama was clearly splitting hairs and concealing the truth when he said that William Ayers was "just a guy who lives in my neighborhood."
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) administration records released last week by the University of Illinois, show that the Ayers-Obama connection was, in fact, an intimate collaboration and that it led to the only executive or administrative experience in Obama's life.
After Walter Annenberg's foundation offered several hundred million dollars to American public schools in the mid-'90s, William Ayers applied for $50 million for Chicago.
The purpose of his application was to secure funds to "raise political consciousness" in Chicago's public schools. After he won the grant, Ayers's group chose Barack Obama to distribute the money.
Between 1995 and 1999, Obama distributed the $50 million and raised another $60 million from other civic groups to augment it. In doing so, he was following Ayers' admonition to grant the funds to "external" organizations, like American Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) to pair with schools and conduct programs to radicalize the students and politicize them.
Reading, math, and science achievement tests counted for little in the CAC grants, but the school's success in preaching a radical political agenda determined how much money they got.
Barack Obama should have run screaming at the sight of William Ayers and his wife, Bernadette Dohrn. Ayers has admitted bombing the U.S. Capitol building and the Pentagon, and his wife was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink's armored car in which two police officers were killed. Far from remorse, Ayers told The New York Times in September 2001 that he "wished he could have done more."
Ayers only avoided conviction when the evidence against him turned out to be contained in illegally obtained wiretaps by the FBI. He was, in fact, guilty as sin.
That Obama should ally himself with Ayers is almost beyond understanding. The former terrorist had not repented of his views and the education grants he got were expressly designed to further them.
So let's sum up Obama's Chicago connections. His chief financial supporter was Tony Rezko, now on his way to federal prison. His spiritual adviser and mentor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of "God damn America" fame. And the guy who got him his only administrative job and put him in charge of doling out $50 million is William Ayers, a terrorist who was a domestic Osama bin Laden in his youth.
Even apart from the details of the Obama/Ayers connection, two key points emerge: a) Obama lied and misled the American people in his description of his relationship with Ayers as casual and arm's-length; and b) Obama was consciously guided by Ayers's radical philosophy, rooted in the teachings of leftist Saul Alinksy, in his distribution of CAC grant funds.
Since Obama is asking us to let him direct education spending by the federal government and wants us to trust his veracity, these are difficulties he will have to explain in order to get the votes to win.
Now that Obama is comfortably ahead in the polls, attention will understandably shift to him. We will want to know what kind of president he would make. The fact that, within the past 10 years, he participated in a radical program of political education conceptualized by an admitted radical terrorist offers no reassurance.
Why did Obama put up with Ayers? Because he got a big job and $50 million of patronage to distribute to his friends and supporters in Chicago. Why did he hang out with Jeremiah Wright? Because he was new in town, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and having been educated at Columbia and Harvard, and needed all the local introductions he could get to jump-start his political career.
Why was he so close to Rezko? Because he funded Obama's campaigns and helped him buy a house for $300,000 less than he otherwise would have had to pay.
Not a good recommendation for a president.
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann