Obama and Ayers, McCain and Keating…

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

John McCain’s pit bull with lipstick Sarah Palin is going around accusing Barack Obama of consorting with terrorists because it is known that he has had some connection with admitted late 60s, early 70s radical bomb thrower William “Bill” Ayers, a member of the Weatherman terrorist organization, who is now a college professor at the University of Illinois, at Chicago, and a neighbor of Obama.

(I don’t know if McCain is talking about the alleged Obama-Ayers connection yet, but I would not be surprised if it comes up in Tuesday night’s debate.)

Of course when Ayers was throwing his bombs, Obama was just a kid. Ayers although charged later had his charges dropped after a court ruled that there was prosecutorial misconduct. Ayers donated $200 to an Obama state election campaign in Illinois. And Obama and Ayers have had mutual connections with more than one non-profit organization. Whether there ever has been any personal relationship between the two or whether they actually worked together on any projects, other than attended the same meetings, is unclear.

Certainly it would not seem like Ayers is one that anyone running for president should have kept company with. But in politics one brushes up with a lot of less than savory characters. I think Palin is implying that Obama and Ayers have conspired in some plot to destroy the American way of life.

Although considered by many, not all, to be a respectable part of the community in Chicago nowadays, Ayers is reportedly unrepentant about his radical past. He was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “I don’t regret setting the bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

It is important to note that people, including policemen and security guards, and some of the terrorists themselves, were killed in Weatherman bombings and an armored car heist.

Just as Obama has publicly distanced himself from the Rev. Wright, I think he should make a public statement about Ayers.

I would have a hard time voting for someone who has had a direct connection with such a person as Ayers, unless he was ignorant of the man’s past and could show he had reason to be ignorant of it and that of course any dealings he has had were not illegal or subversive. And he should publicly denounce Ayers.  Ayers’ reported admission to bombings is I suppose not actual proof that he really was involved or at least involved in bombings that resulted in death. But the public has to wonder why a seemingly admitted killer can go free and even be a college professor at a public institution.

While I think it is a little late in the game to be coming up with this kind of attack, I do think the McCain camp has a legitimate issue.

But, John McCain’s connection with Charles Keating of the Savings and Loan Scandal of the 1980s is much more clear. Keating bilked 21,000 investors, most of them elderly, out of their savings, totaling $285 million. McCain accepted political contributions from Keating and went to bat for him before regulators (McCain’s line is that he just introduced him as a constituent, sure, and just your presence there meant nothing senator). Keating was eventually convicted of fraud and racketeering.

Two wrongs do not make a right. But since we’re talking about connections Sarah….

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