While it may be true that Barack Hussein Obama was only eight years old when his friend, William Ayers, organized THE WEATHERMEN, a group of domestic terrorists who bombed Federal buildings during the Vietnam War, and while it may be true that Barack Hussein Obama finally condemned those acts of violent domestic terrorism when pressured to do so, it is nonetheless true that William Ayers has never disavowed those bombings for which he was found guilty and served prison time. Barack Hussein Obama and William Ayers are not only neighbors in Chicago, they serve together in 'community organizing' activities in Chicago. Barack Hussein Obama announced his candidacy for public office at a reception in the home of William Ayers.
Barack Obama's supporters insist that an ad from a conservative group attacking his ties to unrepentant 1970s radical William Ayers is irrelevant to the campaign. Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor and close friend of Mr. Obama, says that while he is "very disturbed by [Mr. Ayers'] past and by his refusal to disavow what the did . . . the implications of this for Obama are zero."
You wouldn't know that from the reaction of the Obama campaign. Yesterday, it took the extraordinary step of airing a response to the Ayers ad, which links Mr. Obama to the former Weather Underground organizer who took credit for a series of non-fatal bombings at the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon during the Vietnam War era.
"With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the 60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" the Obama ad asks. "McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes, committed when Obama was just 8 years old."Obama lawyers have also sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project, the conservative group behind the ad, for potentially violating campaign finance laws.
McCain aides say they are perplexed by the Obama ad (attacking the supposed McCain ad) "It is misleading," McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt told National Review. "It states the McCain campaign is running an ad on the issue and it's not. Obama described Ayers as just a guy who lives in his neighborhood. We know that's not accurate."
Also unexplained is the sudden sensitivity on Team Obama's part. It's already known that Mr. Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, hosted a key fund-raising party during Mr. Obama's first bid for public office and also served with Mr. Obama on the board of a Chicago-based charity until 2002.
Today, the University of Illinois will finally release documents it tried to keep from the public on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the liberal school reform effort founded by Mr. Ayers and chaired by Mr. Obama. Obama campaign aides insist the two men had only a casual relationship.
During a Democratic primary debate last April, Mr. Obama said that "the notion that . . . 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."
We may know more about the relationship between the two men later this week, after reporters have plowed through the once-suppressed Annenberg Challenge records.
-- John Fund
writing in the Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE