Obama really needs to recalibrate his sense of moral equivalence. Following his linkage of the Reverend Wright to his own grandmother and Geraldine Ferraro in his Philadelphia race speech, in last night's debate Obama again demonstrated his utter unwillingness to risk giving offense to his own side by pairing off an unrepentant Weatherman bomber with a US Senator; evidently he has run out of relatives and is reduced to pitching friends under the bus:
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: ...I want to give Senator Clinton a chance to respond, but first a follow-up on this issue, the general theme of patriotism in your relationships. A gentleman named William Ayers, he was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol and other buildings. He's never apologized for that. And in fact, on 9/11 he was quoted in The New York Times saying, "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough."
An early organizing meeting for your state senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly. Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?
SEN. 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, 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, is somehow -- 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.
Well, let us know when Tom Coburn is hosting fundraisers for you. Why he would, after you caricatured him on national television, is a mystery, but maybe he is a real friend. Or was, anyway. More on Senate maverick Tom Coburn here and here.
As to why the association with Ayers matters, it all goes in the "Getting to Know You" file, along with the "fellow traveler" mom, the socialist dad, the "God DAMN America" minister and the embittered wife. Do we detect a pattern? This is from p. 100 of Obama's "Dreams From My Father":
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully.The more politically active black students.The foreign students.The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets.At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism,Franz Fanon,Eurocentrism,and patriarchy.When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake,we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints.We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure.We were alienated.
No careful decision to associate with young conservatives; I guess Tom Coburn is more interesting, or more useful, now.
Coburn is traditional conservative, opposing abortion except in rare cases to save the life of the mother and advocating tax cuts and limited government.
On the death penalty, he said: "I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life."
He said he performed two abortions to save the lives of mothers who had congenital heart disease, but opposes the procedure in cases of rape.
Compare that with Obama's "during his campaign [Coburn] once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions".
Seems fair enough to me.
MORE ON AYERS: The Politico provided lots of background last February on the Ayers/Obama connection. As to Obama's passing familiarity with Ayer's ideas, I like this:
As Bloomberg News reported recently, Obama and Ayers have crossed paths repeatedly in the last decade. In 1997, Obama cited Ayers’ critique of the juvenile justice system in a Chicago Tribune article on what prominent Chicagoans were reading. He and Ayers served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago for three years starting in 1999. In 2001, Ayers also gave $200 to Obama’s state Senate reelection campaign.
BURIED NEWS: Regarding Obama's evolving position on gun control - in 1998, with Obama on the board (but not Ayers), the Woods Fund of Chicago gave $15,000 (see page 42 of the .pdf) to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, an ardent anti-gun group.