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Required Reading: Friends of Barack

1:09 PM, Aug 27, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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From City Journal, "Fire in the Night" by John Murtaugh

This excellent essay and the film snippet above provides insight into Obama buddy William Ayers, while casting doubt on the candidate's typically sly evasion of his moral responsibility for hanging around with such a cretin.

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up "a gentleman named William Ayers," who "was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He's never apologized for that." Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama's answer: "The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George." Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers's Weathermen tried to murder me.

In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called "Panther 21," members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we'd call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night…

Though never a supporter of Obama, I admired him for a time for his ability to engage our imaginations, and especially for his ability to inspire the young once again to embrace the political system. Yet his myopia in the last few months has cast a new light on his "politics of change." Nobody should hold the junior senator from Illinois responsible for his friends' and supporters' violent terrorist acts. But it is fair to hold him responsible for a startling lack of judgment in his choice of mentors, associates, and friends, and for showing a callous disregard for the lives they damaged and the hatred they have demonstrated for this country. It is fair, too, to ask what those choices say about Obama's own beliefs, his philosophy, and the direction he would take our nation.

Personally, I don't think Obama's association with William Ayers says anything about where he wants to take the nation. There's no reason to infer that Obama sympathizes with the Weathermen's agenda, and to suggest otherwise is more than a touch overwrought. Then again, given the attempt on his family's lives, Murtaugh is entitled to being more than a touch overwrought. The Obama/Ayers relationship does, however, say a great deal about how Barack Obama is a conventional thinker and actor who thoroughly and meekly reflects the values of his environment.

In the Wall Street Journal today, Dan Gerstein has a phenomenally obtuse op-ed positing that Obama is "an independent-minded, orthodoxy-challenging, gutsy leader." The orthodoxy in Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood was to embrace the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers. Now let's say there was an aspiring politician in the neighborhood who was a truly "independent-minded" and gutsy leader with proper moral bearings. That guy would have eschewed the opportunity to befriend William Ayers. Famously, the putatively gutsy Obama did no such thing. Barack Obama embraced Ayers with particular gusto.

Closely associating with William Ayers was a moral decision and a wretched one at that. All Obama has left to do in regards to this issue is deny the obvious - that it was indeed a moral decision. For the morality of cozying up to such a figure will strike most people as indefensible.

HT: Jonah Goldberg, Allah