Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On Associates and Judgment





I am saddened, disappointed, angered, but not at all surprised by the recent resurgence of character assaults on Barack Obama by Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Her insistence that Obama is "palling around with terrorists" (in reference to Obama's connection to former radical and Weather Underground co-founder William Ayers) is barely relevant, even if it were accurate (which it is not).

That Obama chooses to befriend (though in this case it would be seriously straining the term "befriend") those who did wrong in the past (as Obama has explicitly denounced Ayers' violence, I think it safe to say he would construe it as "wrong"), merely speaks to a capacity to forgive and to reach across differences for a common good. That he is "palling around" with a currently active criminal or terrorist is beyond ludicrous, though that is certainly what Palin is attempting to evoke. Ayers is now a tenured professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and conducted his suspect actions in the late 1960's and early seventies, before Obama was even ten years old. Obama's involvement with Ayers – which included accepting a small donation ($200) from him in 1995 and serving with him on philanthropic boards benefiting schools – hardly qualifies as being fast friends, and certainly has nothing to do with condoning his actions decades ago, when, again, Obama was a mere child.

But infamous Savngs and Loan fraud czar Charles Keating conducted his wrongdoing (which I would argue affected more lives in a far more negative and long-lasting way, bilking the American public of billions of dollars) not when John McCain was a child, but when he was a U.S. Representative. And he (Keating) had contributed hundreds of thousands to McCain's campaign. And Keating's fate was directly influenced by his association with McCain and McCain's subsequent (lapse of, or poor) judgment. THAT sort of association and subsequent judgment about what to do with fraudulent persons (or the environment of non-regulation that leaves their activities unfettered) IS relevant and certainly worth closer examination. That said, I recommend the above video.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another thing to add to that consideration is within Palin's own family...her husband's association with the Alaska independence movement...try and tell me they were any better than the Weather Underground...

Chris Oposnow said...

I heard McCain's people mention a connection between Ayers but I am going to be honest, I had no idea who he was or why they were calling him a terrorist. I tried to google his name up to find out why they were calling a terrorist but miss spelled his name. All that came was a used car dealership.

Chris Oposnow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Hornschemeier said...

Ah, yes... well then you'll love this gem:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/10/09/alaskan-independence.html

What's interesting in these attacks is that in every speech I watch or transcript I hear, the McCain/Palin camp is not even attempting to give any sort of evidence that Obama has done anything wrong or in any way actively supported anyone in any wrongdoing. And yet audiences angrily devour the empty message (a non-message really, that simply juxtaposes inflammatory terminology and concepts with Obama's name, despite lack of empirical backing). It's disturbing, to say the least.

Paul Hornschemeier said...

Chris, in response to your comment: exactly. No one in the general populace would readily recall Ayers, at least not in any sort of numbers that would matter.

But that gets at my above comment about this being a sort of non-message: "Ayers" is just a placeholder in the sentence, and only serves as a way to get the word "terrorist" closer to the name "Obama." Did Obama support Ayers activities then? No, Obama was a child, around age eight. Did Obama support Ayers actions later in life, since entering public service? No, Obama has explicitly denounced Ayers' resorting to violence. Did Obama accept Ayers minuscule donation and meet Democrat friends of Ayers? Yes. Did Obama serve with Ayers to help improve schools? Yes.

What an incendiary, terrorizing relationship these two have! Glad to hear we're all aware of it now.

mary said...

I'm a little late on this, but I'm one of the handful of Chicago folks who HAD heard of Bill Ayers before this whole mess: because he's a local author on education reform and he's one of the dissertation advisers for a friend of mine at the UIC school of education. I knew he was very left-leaning, but so are a lot of scholars in his (my?) field. The life he's been leading for the last couple of decades might be threatening to the neocons because he's an advocate of good public education, but that's about as scary as he gets.

When I first heard that Ayers and Obama had some kind of small local connection, I took that as just another point in Obama's favor. I still do. And I'm glad the terrorist thing seems to (for the most part) hold no water.

Paul Hornschemeier said...

You had heard of him because you're involved in supporting education? Mary, why do you hate freedom?