Steve Diamond continues to plug away at the Obama cover-up swirling around Obama's association with Bill Ayers and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
One issue is this - how did Barack Obama, a young lawyer with no background in education, become chairman of the highly visible (and highly funded) Chicago Annenberg Challenge? Even the Times coverage noted raised eyebrows:
Several board members, including two university presidents, far outranked Mr. Obama in education experience.
“Let me say the room had no shortage of egos, including my own,” said Stanley O. Ikenberry, a board member who at the time was president of the University of Illinois. “It was unusual: here you had a person trained in the law chairing a board on school reform.” Still, he said, Mr. Obama won his colleagues’ respect.
The obvious answer, suggested by Steve Diamond (and seconded by yours truly), is that Bill Ayers, who had led the founding of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, lobbied on Barack's behalf. And why would Bill Ayers do that? There was an earlier effort at school reform in Chicago in 1988; one major player was the ABCs Coalition coordinated by Bill Ayers. One member of the coalition was Barack Obama's Developing Communities Project, so it is entirely possible that these two met in 1988 and were simply resuming their collaboration in 1995.
The Obama campaign denies that:
Ayers had nothing to do with Obama’s recruitment to the Board. Barack Obama was encouraged to run for Chair by Deborah Leff, with whom he served on another board, recommended by Pat Graham, and elected by the bipartisan founding board members: Susan Crown, Pat Graham, Stanley Ikenberry, Ray Romero, Arnold Weber, and Wanda White.
But Steve Diamond has unearthed correspondence prior to the formation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge documenting some key points:
1. Bill Ayers was instrumental in founding the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
2. Unsurprisingly, the question of how the Chicago Annenberg Challenge would be governed was raised prior to the grant being approved. Bill Ayers was involved in resolving that.
3. The governing structure, including the board of roughly eight Chicagoans, was discussed with Bill Ayers.
The Obama campaign would like people to believe that, although Bill Ayers was involved at every important step, no one asked for this thoughts on the selection of a chairman. Uh huh.
Steve Diamond points out another oddity of the Obama camp's current explanation - Deborah Leff claims to have encouraged Obama to run for the chairmanship. In that vision Ms. Leff would have met Barack in Nov 1994 on the board of the Joyce Foundation, then pushed him towards the Chicago Annenberg Challenge chairmanship four months later. That gives short shrift to the fact that the Joyce Foundation, and especially Ms. Leff, had a longstanding and ongoing relationship with Bill Ayers, whom Ms. Leff considered to be in charge of developing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. In filling the chairmanship did she really execute an end-run around Ayers in order to promote a guy she scarcely knew? Is that the Chicago Way?
No journalist will pick this up, of course, so the Obama cover-up will continue for a while. Eventually the history will out. But before it does, think how many people can request favors of their old friend Barack, and think how many people Barack needs to stay friendly with, lest their inconvenient memories embarrass him.