Fact Check: Obama and Ayers

From “Fact Check Barack Obama

The American Issues Project has just released an ad attacking Barack Obama and attempting to make a connection between Obama and Ayers.

There is a connection between McCain and American Issues Project.

The Obama campaign responded to the new anti-Obama ad from a group whose backers remains a mystery by linking the group to McCain, noting that one of its two named board members, Ed Failor, Jr., is an Iowa conservative activist who consulted on the McCain campaign until last summer.

UPDATE: Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor responds:

The fact that John McCain dispatched his paid consultant to launch this despicable ad from a so-called ‘independent’ committee shows how desperate he is to change the subject from his shocking disconnect with the economic struggles of the American people. He knows that Barack Obama has denounced the detestable crimes that Bill Ayers committed forty years ago.

Instead of invoking Paris, Britney and obscure sixties radicals, Senator McCain should take the day off at one of his seven homes to consider whether his support for outsourcing, tax breaks for companies who ship jobs overseas and continued spending of ten billion a month in Iraq is really putting ‘country first.’ To us, it sounds like just more of the same.

Fact Check on Obama and Ayers

April 17, 2008

REALITY: OBAMA WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD WHEN THE WEATHERMEN WERE ACTIVE

Obama Turned Eight In August 1969, The Days Of Rage Occurred In October 1969. Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961. He turned eight on August 4, 1969. The Days of Rage, in which William Ayers participated, occurred in October 1969. [Obama Birth Certificate, UPI, 10/21/81]

William Ayers Participated In The “Days Of Rage” In 1969. The AP reported, “In the autumn of 1969, the Weatherman, led by Bernardine Dohrn and Mark Rudd, converged on Chicago and planned a series of demonstrations to dramatize their beliefs. The riots, which came to be known as the “Days of Rage,” caused thousands of dollars in damage in the downtown and Near North Side areas and resulted in injuries to several policemen. Rudd and Ms. Dohrn were named in federal riot indictments with ten others — William Ayers, Kathy Boudin, John Jacobs, Jeff Jones, Michael Spiegel, Howard Machtinger, Terry Robins, Lawrence Weiss, Linda Sue Evans and Judy Clark. Another prominent activist, Cathy Wilkerson, was arrested on state charges of mob action and resisting a police officer. Some surrendered years ago. Two — Ms. Dohrn and Ayers, son of the former chairman of Commonweath Edison Co. — surfaced Wednesday. Charges against Ayers had been dropped in 1978 but Ms. Dohrn still faces charges of aggravated battery and jumping bail.” [AP, 12/3/80]

REALITY: AYERS CONNECTION IS “PHONY,” TENUOUS,” “A STRETCH”

Chicago Sun Times: Obama’s Connection To Ayers Is A “Phony Flap”. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote in an editorial, “But Ayers, it is also true to say, has since followed in the footsteps of the great Chicago social worker Jane Addams, crusading for education and juvenile justice reform. His 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, has been praised for exposing how Cook County’s juvenile justice system all but eliminates a child’s chance for redemption. Is Barack Obama consorting with a radical? Hardly. Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is doing good. And while, yes, Obama is friendly with Ayers, it appears to be only in the way of two community activists whose circles overlap. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. That doesn’t make him an Islamic terrorist. He stopped wearing a flag pin. That doesn’t make him unpatriotic. And he’s friendly with UIC Professor William Ayers. That doesn’t make him a bomb thrower. Time to move on to Phony Flap 6,537,204.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 3/3/08]

Washington Post: Obama-Ayers Link “Is A Tenuous One.” The Washington Post reported in a fact check, “But the Obama-Ayers link is a tenuous one.” [Washington Post, 2/18/08]

Woods Fund President Harrington: “This Whole Connection Is A Stretch.” The Washington Post reported in a fact check, “Whatever his past, Ayers is now a respected member of the Chicago intelligentsia, and still a member of the Woods Fund Board. The president of the Woods Fund, Deborah Harrington, said he had been selected for the board because of his solid academic credentials and ‘passion for social justice.’ ‘This whole connection is a stretch,’ Harrington told me. ‘Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.'” [Washington Post, 2/18/08]

Noam Scheiber Of TNR: “I Don’t See Evidence Of Any Relationship” Between Obama And Ayers. Noam Scheiber of The New Republic wrote, “Ben says Ayers and Obama were, at best, casual friends. Even that seems to overstate things, though. I don’t see evidence of any relationship. The only concrete connection we know of is the meeting, which was attended by a number of local liberals; their contemporaneous membership on the board of a local organization; and a $200-donation by Ayers to one of Obama’s state senate campaigns. (Obama also once praised something Ayers had written about the juvenile justice system.) I’m not saying they couldn’t have been casual friends; just that there isn’t much evidence for that at this point.” [The New Republic, 2/22/08]

Birdsell: Obama Links To Ayers Were “Pretty Slender Ties.” The New York Sun reported, “‘Those are pretty slender ties to a controversial figure,’ the dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, David Birdsell, said of Mr. Obama’s links to Mr. Ayers.” [New York Sun, 2/19/08]


RHETORIC: He was then asked about his association with William Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground, a radical group from the 1960s and ’70s. Ayers was quoted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as saying he did not regret setting bombs and that “we didn’t do enough.” [Washington Post, 4/17/08]

REALITY: AYERS COMMENTS WERE PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 11; THE INTERVIEW OCCURRED PRIOR TO PUBLICATION

On September 11, 2001, A Story About William Ayers’ Memoir Was Published In The New York Times; The Interview Occurred Prior To Publication. “‘I don’t regret setting bombs,’ Bill Ayers said. ‘I feel we didn’t do enough.’ Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago.” [New York Times, 9/11/01]

AYERS IS A TENURED PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO AND WAS A “RESPECTED ADVISOR” TO MAYOR DALEY ON SCHOOL REFORM

Ayers Is A Professor Of Education At UIC. According to his website at UIC, “William Ayers is a school reform activist, Distinguished Professor of Education, and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he teaches courses in interpretive research, urban school change, and youth and the modern predicament. He is the founder of the Center for Youth and Society and founder and co-director of the Small Schools Workshop. A graduate of the Bank Street College of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, he has written extensively about social justice, democracy and education. His interests focus on the political and cultural contexts of schooling as well as the meaning and ethical purposes of teachers, students, and families.” [Ayers UIC Site, Ayers Personal Site, Accessed 5/31/07]

Ayers Advised Chicago Mayor Richard Daley On School Reform Issues. Bill “Ayers is now mainstream — an educator with distinguished professor status. He has written three books about education and has advised Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on the subject of school reform.” [AP, 10/14/01]

Terkel: Ayers Is A “Sensitive And Gifted” Writer And Teacher. Studs Terkel wrote, “William Ayers is as sensitive and gifted a chronicler as he is a teacher.” [Beacon]

CHARGES AGAINST AYERS WERE DROPPED AND HE SERVED NO TIME

1979: Charges Against Ayers Were Dropped Because “The Government’s Case Was Based On Illegal Wiretaps.” The New York Times reported, “William Ayers was a fugitive, too, for nine of those years, but the Federal charges against him, Miss Dohrn and other members of the revolutionary organization were dropped in 1979, when it was ruled that the Government’s case was based on illegal wiretaps.” [New York Times, 12/5/80]

Ayers “Served No Time.” “William Ayers: Surrendered and pleaded guilty in 1980 to possession of explosives and served no time. Teaches early childhood development at the University of Illinois.” [Boston Globe, 9/19/93]

UPDATE:  Diary at Daily Kos tells all about the “swiftboater” behind this trashy ad.

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