Smearing Obama

I admit it.  I’m furious.  This evening’s New York Times online has a story with the title, “Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths”.  And what’s the article about?  It’s about how Obama has crossed paths with Bill Ayers in Chicago, where Ayers is a professor of education, a few times.  Check out how the story begins 39 years ago, in 1969:

At a tumultuous meeting of anti-Vietnam War militants at the Chicago Coliseum in 1969, Bill Ayers helped found the radical Weathermen, launching a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and United States Capitol.

Twenty-six years later[that would be in 1997], at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors.

Their relationship has become a touchstone for opponents of Mr. Obama, the Democratic senator, in his bid for the presidency. Video clips on YouTube, including a new advertisement that was broadcast on Friday, juxtapose Mr. Obama’s face with the young Mr. Ayers or grainy shots of the bombings.

In a televised interview last spring, Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, asked, “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”

Notice this.  This is a story that is a complete non-story. It’s a long repetition and a detailed examination of facts that definitely don’t support the smear.  And the story, when all is said and done, confirms that there is no real connection between Ayers and Obama. As the story itself says in a sixth paragraph that should have deflated the sensational, historical lede,

A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

You can read the entire story to make sure I’m not mischaracterizing it.

You tell me whether there is anything here except the repetition of the rightwing slander and a long, detailed discussion of how the two, who live in the same neighborhood, have connections to various progressive organizations and have, horror of all horrors, spoken to each other.   Put simply, there’s nothing here.  We knew there was nothing here.  We know that it’s just a rightwing smear.

So why is it on the front page of the online Times?  I don’t think you have to break out your tinfoil garments to answer the question.


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  1. I cannot stand this Times article.  And yes, I know it’s typical.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Robyn on October 4, 2008 at 04:57

    Just like I don’t know why someone would think hanging him in effigy would be cool…and wouldn’t elicit any disturbing connotations.

    • Edger on October 4, 2008 at 05:17

    “How can you countenance someone who was engaged in bombings that could have or did kill innocent people?”

    How, Mr McCain? How about a “straight talk” answer, please.

  2. got the memo on the change in McCain’s strategy for the final month of the campaign.

    According to the Washington Post:

    Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.

    With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.

    “We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.  

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