Obama is protesting an ad that targets his association with domestic 60s terrorist Bill Ayres. Here’s the ad:
Obama is asking his supporters to threaten to boycott stations running the ad. I have no problem with that; it’s a classic technique used to put economic pressure on entities that air programs and/or ads that are considered offensive by one group or other.
But the Obama campaign is going beyond that. In a letter to the Justice Department, Obama’s general counsel Bob Bauer wrote that:
The project is “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,”….Bauer argued that by advocating Obama’s defeat, the ad should be subject to the contribution limits of federal campaign law, not the anything-goes regime of issue advocacy.
Bauer’s letter called on the Justice Department to open “an investigation of the American Issues Project; its officers and directors; and its anonymous donors, whoever they may be.”
AIP claims that there are no irregularities; I guess time will tell.
I’m not sure why the Obama campaign is so very afraid of this ad. It says nothing that hasn’t been in the public domain, and even in the news, for a long time—although perhaps the answer is that an ad such as this has the capacity to reach more people. Another problem for Obama may be that the ad doesn’t state anything that isn’t true, although it offers innuendos such as “What does [Obama] really believe?” and “Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it?” As for “advocating Obama’s defeat,” all it says about that is, “Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?”
This is not the first time Obama has tried to squelch opponents by challenging them on legal technicalities; he cut his political teeth on that sort of thing. Just ask Alice Palmer, fellow Democrat and fellow African American, what he did to her and all of his opponents in his very first primary race, for the Illinois Senate.
Of course, there’s nothing illegal about mounting legal challenges. But it doesn’t look good; it telegraphs fear and the desire to stifle criticism and freedom of speech.
Obama’s campaign has written a letter to various stations calling the ad “an appalling lie, a disgraceful smear.” Smear it may be, but lie it is not; there’s a difference. And even if the video did contain lies, wouldn’t it be best to rebut them and/or answer them effectively rather than stifle it?
So far, Obama’s answers have fallen short. If this is the best Obama can do as a video rebuttal, I begin to wonder whether he has an effective answer:
As for what else Obama has said on the subject, I refer you to Obama’s debate with Hillary Clinton around the time of the Pennsylvania primary. Asked about the Ayers connection by George Stephanopoulos, Obama was his usual obfuscating self, whereas Clinton had done her homework, pointing out some other connections with Ayers (although not all of them) that Obama had ignored when he described him as “a guy who lives in my neighborhood” (note, also, Clinton’s prescient last sentence in the quoted excerpt):
OBAMA: George, but this is an example of what I’m talking about. 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, George.
The fact is that 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? Because I certainly don’t agree with those, either.
So this kind of game in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, that somehow their ideas could be attributed to me, I think the American people are smarter than that. They’re not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn’t.
CLINTON: Well, I think that is a fair general statement, but I also believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid directorship position.
And, if I’m not mistaken, that relationship with Mr. Ayers on this board continued after 9/11 and after his reported comments, which were deeply hurtful to people in New York and, I would hope, to every American, because they were published on 9/11, and he said that he was just sorry they hadn’t done more.
And what they did was set bombs. And in some instances, people died. So it is — I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about.
And I have no doubt — I know Senator Obama’s a good man and I respect him greatly, but I think that this is an issue that certainly the Republicans will be raising.
Then there’s Obama’s page attempting to refute the charges of a deeper connection to Ayers than he is willing to acknowledge. It begins with an assertion that is both true and irrelevant: Obama was eight years old when Ayers committed his terrorist acts. This would be a great defense if anyone was suggesting that Obama was a member of the Children’s Auxiliary of the Weathermen, but unfortunately for Obama, nobody is. What is being asserted by critics is that, as an adult, he had very close dealings with supporters who were, as the phrase goes, “unrepentant terrorists,” and that their status and past was hardly hidden from him. At the very least, it was an error in judgment on Obama’s part that he has never acknowledged. Nor did he see fit to repudiate them until sorely pressed by the media and by opponents.
Obama’s page goes on to list a bunch of MSM articles quoting people who think his Ayers connection isn’t much. That’s hardly a defense. And it ends with the fact that charges against Ayers were dropped—not important at all, since they were dismissed on a technicality and Ayers admits he is fully guilty. And for anyone who thinks Ayers is now just a nice old Mr. Rogers-type educator, think again.
[ADDENDUM: For more on the Ayers association, see this. The MSM needs to do its job and ascertain whether these charges are true or false. It's something they should have done long ago.]
[ADDENDUM II: Somehow the final link in the first addendum got broken and is unfixable because I cannot locate the source again. Odd. I've removed the related quotes since I can't find the attribution any more. But anyone who wants to read some similar facts can go here instead.]