William Ayers, unrepentant terrorist and education professor, is once again being tied to Barack Obama in the public mind. Controversy builds over the withholding of the archives of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an expensive failed school reform effort headed by Obama and effectively run by Ayers, held by the library of the University of Illinois Chicago. Researchers who have gained access to a few documents recording the history of the project have found strong evidence of a very important working relationship between the two men on the project, Obama's sole claim to executive experience.
Oddly enough, even though the project produced no measurable improvement in student performance according to its own final report, educators and administrators -- participants and grantees of the CAC -- were reported by outside monitors to be often "ebullient" about the activities. For insiders, it was an excellent adventure. For the pupils stuck in the failing public schools of Chicago, an ongoing, unrelieved disaster.
Obama and his campaign long have gone out of their way to downplay, in fact distort, the long and evidently deep relationship between Ayers and Obama. In the Philadelphia Democratic debate last April, George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his relationship with Ayers, and the candidate responded: "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. [....]"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."
Almost two months earlier, the "neighbor" talking point campaign manager David Axelrod introduced the notion that Obama and Ayers were mostly just neighbors, telling The Politico's Ben Smith, "Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school," he said. "They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together."
Ayers and his wife are in their sixties, while the Obamas are in their mid-forties. Ayers' children are all adults, while Obama's children are currently 10 and 7. Axelrod's prevarication is telling, bespeaking confidence that nobody in the media will bother to dispute an obvious falsehood.
"Flimsy" turns out to be a completely misleading word when it comes to characterizing the Obama-Ayers relationship.
Read it all here.