Ben Smith at Politico notes:
In an interview with the sympathetic conservative talk radio host this afternoon, Obama offered the clearest explanation yet of how an extremely careful politician allowed himself anywhere near a former ’60s radical who would become a Republican target in this year’s presidential campaign.
Obama “had assumed” from Bill Ayers’ stature in Chicago, he told the Philadelphia-based Michael Smerconish, that Ayers had been “rehabilitated” since his 1960s crimes.
In the interview, which was taped this afternoon and will air tomorrow, and which you can listen to above, Obama recalled moving back to Chicago after law school, and becoming involved in civic life there.
“The gentleman in question, Bill Ayers, is a college professor, teaches education at the University of Illinois,” he said. “That’s how i met him — working on a school reform project that was funded by an ambassador and very close friend of Ronald Reagan’s” along with “a bunch of conservative businessmen and civic leaders.”
“Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that he had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was eight years old at the time and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated,” Obama said.
That may not have been an unreasonable assumption for Obama in the 1990s. Though Ayers never repented his part in the Weather Underground bombings, he had not yet become notorious for advertising them. That notoriety returned in 2001, when he published his memoir, “Fugitive Days,” and reminisced about the bombings in a New York Times interview that happened to appear September 11 of that year.
Obama’s story on Ayers keeps changing. First he was just some guy that lived in his neighbourhood, then an esteemed college professor, now, somehow, Obama didn’t know. Ben Smith is a pathetic apologist.
Let’s not forget that in 1995, Obama headed the board and collaborated with the terrorist at the Annenberg challenge. If Obama didn’t know about Ayers’ past till after 9/11, he mustn’t have learned how to read until after 9/11. By 1996, the media coverage of Ayers was extensive, especially in his home base of Chicago. (Thanks Erick Erickson)
For example, in the Chicago Sun-Times on August 7, 1994, Maureen O’Donnell wrote of Ayers:
Bill Ayers, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, protested at the ’68 convention. The former Weather Underground activist also spent 11 years as a fugitive after the Days of Rage disturbances in 1969:
“It’s kind of a riot” he says with a laugh about the upcoming convention.
“I don’t think people think of Chicago as the site of the (’68) convention. Chicago is still held up as the city of broad shoulders, even though the shoulders are slumping precipitously right now. When I travel and say Chicago, people say, ‘Ah, Michael Jordan.’
“You can find irony in it. To me it’s not surprising that there’s going to be a Democratic convention here. It’s one of the great four or five convention cities. In a sense, they had to get over it.
“I’m planning to demonstrate. If they invade Haiti, you can count on it.”
When BIll Clinton (moderate Republican) rolled his Democrat convention into town, the New York Times, on August 26, 1996, in an article by John Kifner noted:
Mayor Daley’s agenda for public schools draws on two other consultants: Mike Klonsky, who in 1968 was national chairman of the S.D.S. and a demonstration organizer here, and a University of Illinois professor named Bill Ayers.
In an earlier life, Mr. Ayers headed the violent Weather Underground faction of the S.D.S., whose members saw themselves as revolutionary street fighters. His wife, Bernardine Dohrn, an S.D.S. leader once among the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted, is now a lawyer with a Northwestern University legal aid project for troubled youths.
August 27, 1996, USA Today
Sixties radicals Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, once leaders of the Weather Underground, are hosting a fund-raising event Tuesday night for Democrats Online, an Internet service starting up the same night. It features policy discussions and an endorsement page where users explain why they support Clinton.
September 1, 1996, Chicago Tribune
DeZutter, now a professor at Malcolm X College, who long ago had been a reporter for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News, told me that he and his associates put together a gold mine of information and perks for out-of-town reporters.
The theory was that some among the 15,000 media reps who came here for the convention would be grateful to the activists and thus bestow national and even international coverage on their causes.
The carrot included a gang file of phone numbers and current addresses of many of the hottest players in Chicago’s ’60s chaos. Among those listed are Frank Sullivan, Chicago police spokesman during the 1968 riots; one-time fugitive Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers; and Richard J. Elrod, the former Cook County sheriff who won great admiration for his courage handling crippling injuries he endured while helping police during one of the era’s worst riots, the 1969 Days of Rage disturbances.
August 3, 1997, Chicago Tribune
When you’re talking to Bill Ayers, it is hard to believe the soft-spoken, bespectacled education professor is the same guy the FBI was chasing for 11 years as a dangerous radical.
Nor is it easy to believe his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, also was a member of the Weather Underground back in the ’60s. They married while underground and resurfaced during the 1980s. Now he is an adviser to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nationally acclaimed education reform effort and she heads a family and children’s justice program at Northwestern University Law School
So, Ben Smith must either acknowledge that BHO was completely ignorant of his hometown and national papers while living in Chicago and fraternizing with Ayers or he has to admit he is a flaming hypocrite