canarypapers

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies

with 3 comments

Trickery and treachery are the practices of fools that have not the wits enought to be honest. — Benjamin Franklin

In 1972 — back when Sarah Palin was in, like, 2nd grade, and Barack Obama was in 5th grade — William (Bill) Ayers was a militant Vietnam war protester, involved in those most notorious activities that are now being used to smear Barack Obama’s good name.

It was to be another 23 years before the two men’s paths would actually cross. By that time, Ayers had been married with two children for nearly two decades. The charges against him for the violent protests he waged while a member of the Weathermen had long ago been dropped. He’d since earned his Masters in Early Childhood Education, followed by a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, in 1987.  Ayers is currently a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the honor of Distinguished Professor.

By the time Barack Obama first met him in 1995, William Ayers had spent the previous two decades channeling his energies into early childhood education issues, with emphases on urban education reform and poverty & social justice. With both men actively working on the same issues, in the same town, it was only inevitable that their paths would cross. 

A CORRECTED HISTORY: Who, Why, When, Where, What & How

Barack Obama and William Ayers first crossed paths in 1995, as the two men served on the board of an educational organization, called The Chicago Anneberg Challenge, which has been described as “the largest public/private endeavor in U.S. history dedicated to improving public schools.” During this same year, Ayers and his wife held a “meet-and-greet” in their Hyde Park home, at which time State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen candidate for the 1996 Democratic primary. Obama’s and Ayer’s paths again crossed in 1999, as both served on the board of The Woods Fund, an anti-poverty grantwriting group in Chicago. According to Deborah Harrington, the president of the The Woods Fund, the two men were selected for the board because of their solid academic credentials and passion for social justice. In 2001, William Ayers contributed $200 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Regarding any untoward motives involved with this donation, Harrington commented:

This whole connection is a stretch. Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.

Regarding any untoward connections between the two men, Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, said:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been involved in the arts and local theater in my own town. I wonder, were I to ever run for public office, would I be indicted for some notorious decades-old activities of a fellow thespian or artist? ]

Obama’s and Ayers’ paths crossed again, quite literally — and for the last time — in 2007, as described by an Obama campaign spokesman this past August: 

“The last time Obama saw Ayers was about a year ago when he crossed paths with him while biking in the neighborhood. The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false.”

A fact that should be mentioned here is that the above-mentioned Chicago Annenberg Challenge, headed by the same William Ayers, would not have been possible without the generous support of Walter Annenberg, a staunchly conservative Nixon appointee, major GOP donor and longtime friend of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, Walter Annenberg was President Nixon’s Ambassador To Great Britain From 1969-1974, and, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As if that weren’t endorsement enough, Walter Annenberg’s widow, Leonore Annenberg ( the current president of the Annenberg Foundation) is on John McCain’s recently released list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing McCain’s candidacy.

Hardly what you could call, “palling around with terrorists”

But, then, Sarah Palin is hardly what you’d call a politician who “pals around with the truth.” In her Ayers-smears against Obama, Sarah Palin is not only guilty of taking malicious liberties with the facts, but she is also guilty of a profound ignorance of these facts, particularly with respect to their historical context. This would be harmless enough, coming from an everyday hockey mom, but for a politician aspiring to be vice-president (and back-up president)  of the United States, her ignorance is also profoundly dangerous. It is one thing to own a rote memorization of the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to own an  understanding of those facts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once had a friend whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin has proven that she can deliver a script, a bumper-sticker slogan or a phrase, such as the zinger she hurled yesterday in her smear against Obama when she said: “Our opponent… is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country….This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.”

Just who are the “you and I” in this equation? They are, of course, the good guys and the bad guys. In Sarah-world, the good guys love America, and the bad guys hate America. It’s that simple. All we really need is a pep talk for the good guys, and a few stern warnings about the bad guys, and we’ll all be okay. Problem is, the world is an infinitely more complex place than that bean-brained vision inside Sarah Palin’s head. 

This is as true today as it was 232 years ago when our country was founded by a handful of dedicated people (John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin…) who understood that imperfection is as much the nature of government as dissent is the means to perfecting that government. Perhaps this is what inspired Thomas Jefferson to pen the following words, which were immortalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government — Thomas Jefferson

Our American founders are surely roiling in their graves over the state of our union, in much the same spirit as the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve spent the past 8 years watching helplessly as the Bush Administration systematically dismantled the very foundations or our country — playing reckless with our economy, cooking intelligence to take us to war, chipping away at our Constitution, staining our relationships with our allies and otherwise wrecking the integrity of our country. Barack Obama is not alone in his observation that we find ourselves in a less-than-perfect place.

 

But what does this have to do with William Ayers? Um. Nothing. 

But this surely won’t stop politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain from playing these filthy, dirty political games for the next 29 days, even as our country is teetering on the brink of collapse. Apparently, this is the best hope they have to offer our country: throwing gasoline onto the fire in the hope of saving their campaign. Here, their methods aren’t so different than William Ayers’ methods.  Hopefully, the majority of Americans today are wiser than they were 8 years ago. Hopefully, enough of us have learned the difference between the real thing and a cheap imitation of a patriotic American.

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3 Responses

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  1. Nice article. My own is much shorter, but explains it in Star Trek terms, on the theory that MCain and Palin do seem stuck in a very old and simplistic world view. It’s at
    http://www.kennamdahl.wordpress.com

    wordguise

    October 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

  2. John McCain is “proud” of his “old friend”, campaign donor and supporter Gordon Liddy — an old friend who who urged his radio program listeners to kill federal agents and advised them on how to do so, and plotted to kill a mainstream media journalist.

    G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy served four and a half years in prison for his role in the break-ins at the Watergate and at Daniel Ellsberg’s psychologist’s office. He has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in “if necessary.” He plotted to kill journalist Jack Anderson. He plotted with a “gangland figure” to murder Howard Hunt in order to thwart an investigation. He plotted to firebomb the Brookings Institution. He used Nazi terminology to outline a plan to kidnap “leftist guerillas” at the 1972 GOP convention. And Liddy’s bad acts were not confined to the early 1970s. In the 1990s, he instructed his radio audience on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents (“Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests.” In case anyone missed the subtlety of his point, Liddy also insisted: “Kill the sons of bitches.”) During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Liddy boasted that he named his shooting targets after the Clintons.

    Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain’s campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy’s radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled, “John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07,” includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an “old friend.” During the segment, McCain praised Liddy’s “adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great,” said he was “proud” of Liddy, and said that “it’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program.”

    Liddy has even hosted a fundraiser for McCain at his home.

    workn2gether

    October 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  3. Wordguise and workn2gether, thanks to both of you for such worthy contributions to this topic. I read them this evening, in the wake of watching the alphabet news tonight (um, an exercise in perspective — what was I thinking?) and was particularly glad to find your posts. Wordguise, your Star Trek analogy is sweet, succinct and right on point. Loved it. And workn2gether, this country needs to be reminded of the shameful figures of our past, such as Gordon Liddy, which are being revisited upon us this month through the McCain-Palin ticket. Bad, bad times we’re living in. Today’s been particularly bleak. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    canarypapers

    October 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm


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