John McCain Pounces on the So-Called Bill Ayers Controversy

20 04 2008

While on George Stephanopoulus’s This Week show today McCain said the relationship between former Weatherman Underground member Bill Ayers and Senator Obama remains an

open to question…. Because if you’re going to associate and have as a friend and serve on a board and have a guy kick off your campaign that says he’s unrepentant, that he wished [he] bombed more — and then, the worst thing of all, that, I think, really indicates Senator Obama’s attitude, is he had the incredible statement that he compared Mr. Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist, with Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Coburn, a physician who goes to Oklahoma on the weekends and brings babies into life — comparing those two — I mean, that’s not — that’s an attitude, frankly, that certainly isn’t in keeping with the overall attitude.

George Packer of the New Yorker sees things a little differently.

I argued a lot with Bill. And yet, even though I disliked his current politics and felt that he should somehow have paid a steeper price for his terrible past, it was impossible not to like him. He approached everyone in a spirit of good will, as if nothing could be sillier than unfriendliness over a political disagreement. I could sort of imagine him planting a bomb, but it was impossible to imagine him shouting someone down. In a conversation about a new postscript to the paperback edition of “Fugitive Days,” I tried to provoke him by saying that he had an obligation to answer the question of why his use of violence didn’t put him in Osama bin Laden’s camp. He thanked me sincerely for the suggestion (but didn’t follow it). There was something winning about his sweetness, and also a little disturbing.

Now George Stephanopoulos, Hillary Clinton, and a legion of Republican strategists are tying Bill to Obama because they sat on the board of a foundation together. What if they did? And what if they’re friendly neighbors in Hyde Park? Bill and Bernardine are also friends with an old friend of mine who has a sterling reputation as a juvenile-court judge. Does that prove anything, other than that they’ve had successful careers in education and law, respectively? This latest media flap is an absurd and opportunistic piece of guilt by association. Unlike Obama’s membership for many years in the church of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, or his comments last week in San Francisco, it raises no questions about his beliefs, only about our trivial political culture.

It deserves to die a swift and ignominious death.

Read George Packer’s entire post here.

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One response

28 04 2008
EqualTime

McCain misquotes Obama on Tom Coburn. Obama said

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 about abortions. Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements?

This is not comparing Coburn to Ayers.

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