Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guilt By Association

As in previous elections, the Republican Party chose to wage this year's presidential campaign based on scare tactics instead of issues. Among them: that Obama was "palling around with terrorists" because he had once served on an education board with William Ayers, who had been a Weatherman in the late 1960's and early 1970's, when the radical group bombed government buildings to protest the Vietnam War (and has since become a respected educator and 1997 Chicago Citizen of the Year).

This was all a bit of a stretch. There was never much evidence that Obama knew Ayers very well. Furthermore, the Ayers of today, a college professor, is clearly a different man than the Ayers of four decades ago, when Obama was eight years old.

On Election Day, Ayers gave an interview with the New Yorker about being used in this smear campaign. Of note:

One night, Ayers recalled, he and Dohrn were watching Bill O’Reilly, who was going on about “discovering” Ayers’s 1974 manifesto, “Prairie Fire.” “I had to laugh,” Ayers said. “No one read it when it was first issued!” He said that he laughed, too, when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.”

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