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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Making The Ayers Alliance Politically Relevant

I can certainly see the potential of the William Ayers issue for the McCain campaign. What seems less clear is whether the campaign can make Ayers relevant to the issues that everyday Americans care about. I fear that, in lieu of talking issues, McCain will resort to simply throwing out names (Ayers!, Rezko!, Reverend Wright!) in the hope that something sticks. I have vivid memories of President George H. W. Bush in the waning days of the 1992 campaign, desperate to close the gap with Clinton/Gore but lacking anything to talk about, resorted to attacking his opponents as "Mr. Taxes and the Ozone Man". It was damn pathetic.

So, is there any chance that McCain can make effective use of the radical alliances issue? Erick Erickson at RedState posits a sort of unifying principle for the final stretch of the campaign:

For more than two months the Republicans have pushed the ACORN story — a corrupt, radical organization that operates through voter fraud to disrupt American democracy, destabilize our financial system, agitate against business, etc. Just this week the FBI State Attorney General raided ACORN in Nevada and discovered how prevalent their voter fraud operation is. The FBI is expected to get involved.

Separately, the GOP started painting a picture of Obama's campaign donations. He's been extremely secretive. In a bit of marxist doublespeak, the Obama campaign is saying it is the most transparent campaign ever, but won't provide a list of its donors, destroyed Obama's Illinois legislative files, won't provide his health records, etc. The more we learn about his small donors, the more questions we have about foreigners trying to sway the American democratic system.

And then there is the McCain campaign. It has gone zealously after Bill Ayers's connection to Obama. Ayers hired Obama to run the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, after launching Obama's political career in his living room.

Bill Ayers, in applying for the Annenberg Challenge grant, said the purpose of the money would be to radicalize students to agitate for change. Who did he put in charge of the program? Barack Obama.

Who did Obama give the money to?


And the separate plots begin to connect. The ACORN narrative, the Ayers narrative, the foreign donor narrative — they intersect, combine, tangle, and paint a very ugly picture of Barack Obama

What Obama did on the board with the Annenberg money and what he'd do with your money come in to the narrative.

I think there is much to offer here, though I'm not sure that ACORN is the connector. Rather, I see things coming together around the Annenberg Challenge and the radical endeavors for which that money was put to use. Investor's Business Daily makes the point today:

Ayers, now a tenured Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, works to educate teachers in socialist revolutionary ideology, urging that it be passed on to impressionable students.


In a recent interview on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," Obama upgraded Ayers' status from "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" to "somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know."

Actually, Obama knew him quite well, having worked together on a school "reform" project called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

In the 1990s, Ayers was instrumental in starting the Annenberg Challenge, securing a $50 million grant to reform the Chicago Public Schools, part of a national initiative funded by the late Ambassador Walter Annenberg.

Obama was given the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office. He ran the fiscal arm that distributed grants to schools and raised matching funds.

Ayers participated in a second entity known as the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, the operational arm that worked with grant recipients.

During Obama's tenure as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers' own education projects received substantial funding.

One of Ayers' descriptions for a course called "Improving Learning Environments" says a prospective K-12 teacher needs to "be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, teaching for social justice and liberation."

Ed Lasky at the American Thinker lays out what must be done with the Ayers alliance:

The McCain/Palin campaign must switch gears on Ayers and focus on his radical stance that schools must indoctrinate children as revolutionaries rather than teach them skills. The Annenberg Challenge was explicitly designed to do this, and Obama was the man handing out the bucks for this program. There is every reason to expect that as president he would implement a similar program.
The Ayers-Obama-Education nexus is something tangible, something that touches closely on the everyday lives of Americans. It's relevant and it's a BIG DEAL. It strikes me as a high potency issue that could send Barack Obama to a crashing defeat.

Update: Stanley Kurtz, who has done most of the research into the activities of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, puts it this way in a Wall Street Journal piece:

The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.
Guilt by participation - precisely. Voters don't see the Ayers-as-bomber angle as relevant. It's the Ayers-as-anti-American radical and how that connects to Obama's twenty years at Reverend Wright's racist, anti-American "church" which is relevant.

Obama needs to be asked: when did you stop hating America?


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