Now that President-elect Barack Obama is just that, all his former pals are crawling out of their holes. We’ve heard from all of them this past week except for Tony Rezco and William Ayers. Rezco is a little preoccupied with other things. William Ayers decided to step out today. He wanted to apologize for his wrongs, tear off his Communist star T-shirt and pledge his allegiance to the flag, oh wait…actually he had something even more important to take care of – selling the paperback version of his latest book. So he is out making the book rounds and today he started with Good Morning America. Chris Cuomo was the interviewer and I have to give him credit for asking the tough questions. I’m just wondering why it seems okay for the media to now finally be investigating Obama’s nefarious past. Here is the meat of the interview with my colorful commentary in blue:
CUOMO: Clearly, the matter at hand is this relationship with Barack Obama. So, let’s get right to it. You did have a meaningful relationship with Barack Obama. Didn’t you?
AYERS: I knew Barack Obama, absolutely. And I knew him probably as well as thousands of other Chicagoans And like millions and millions of other people worldwide, I wish I knew him better right now. Yeah, we believe that.
CUOMO: But thousands of people were not asked to help start his political career in their home, right? That’s an intimacy.
AYERS: I was asked by the state senator to have a coffee for Barack Obama when he first ran for office. And we had him in our home and I think he was probably in 20 homes that day, as far as I know. But, that was the first time I really met him. My bullcrap meter is going off. You don’t have someone campaign in your home whom you don’t know. Especially when you are passionate about your beliefs which I’m thinking Ayers is – you know bombs and stuff.
CUOMO: You used the term “family friend.” President-elect uses a phrase more like “Bill from the neighborhood.” Those two are not the same thing. Family friend signifies your relationship, doesn’t it?
AYERS: I think you’re quoting from the afterword of “Fugitive Days,” right? I’m talking there about the fact that I became an issue unwittingly and unwillingly in the campaign and I decided that I didn’t want to answer any of it at that moment because it was such a profoundly dishonest narrative. (More like the Obama camaign told you to keep your mouth shut.) But, I’m describing there how the blogosphere characterized the relationship. I would say, really, that we knew each other in a professional way, again, I would say on the same level as thousands of other people. And I am a guy around the neighborhood, incidentally. Absolutely.
CUOMO: But you understand the concern here. It seems that there’s an evasiveness here. Yes, you served on boards together. But that relationship, that somebody’s in your home. You are introducing them to a political community that you have connections with. You are vouching for somebody. There’s an advocacy. There’s a relationship. Certainly, you must have spoken with Barack Obama about things. You must have gotten to know him before you did that? Fair enough? Keep it up Chris!
AYERS: No, actually, I didn’t get to know him before I did that. (This guy is such a liar. Chicago politics is tight and these community organizers most definately all know each other.) But I did know him in a context of being on a board together. And that relationship was public, always in a large, kind of, context. But, you know, I don’t really agree with your premise that this is worth, somehow, this is worthy of really exploring. Because, I don’t really buy the idea that guilt by association should be any part of our politics. (It’s called judgement which seems to be only your right to have – you know finding cops and judges guilty by their associations.) And the interesting thing is, as much as this was created as an issue in the campaign, it appears that for most people, it had no traction. It had no meaning. (It’s because your teaching ways are creating a bunch of mind numb youths just dying to find meaning in their lives – dying for a messiah.) So, the assumption that if two people share a cup of coffee or take a bus downtown together or have a thousand other types of association. That that somehow means they share politics, outlook, policy or responsibility of one another’s actions. You worked for the same kind of boards and gave speeches at the same events meaning you must have agreed on quite a bit.
CUOMO: But when you’re measuring the content of a man’s character who wants to be president of the United States, certainly, information about his friendship/coffee/ association with the man that has the past that you have, creating violence against the United States, you must understand how that would be a concern?
AYERS: No, I don’t agree with either part of that. I think the dishonest narrative is, one, to demonize me. (Listen asshole, you are evil because you are a terrorist. No one has to demonize you, you’ve already done that for yourself.) Let’s remember, that what you call a violent past, that was at a time when thousands of people were being murdered by our government every month and those of us who fought to end that war were actually on the right side. (So delusional. But we were fighting Communism and believes Communism is right.) So, if we want to replay that history, I would reject the whole notion that demonizing me or the Weather Underground is relevant. But, secondly-
CUOMO: Different discussion. Violence is either never okay or its sometimes okay. It’s a separate philosophical discussion. The relevance here is Barack Obama was campaigning to be president. The analogy is if John McCain had an association, somebody had a coffee for him in his house to launch his political career who was blowing up abortion clinics but never hurt anyone, you don’t think that would be relevant?
AYERS: I think the content is relevant, but let’s go back. Again, the content of the Vietnam protest is a content where there were despicable acts going on, but the despicable acts being carried out were being carried out by our government. I never hurt or killed anyone. (Never hurt anyone?! And even if, for the sake of discussion, nobody’s body was hurt, how about property damage and loss?) I was involved in the anti-war movement. I was a militant. (Terrorist) I was part of the militant faction of opposing the war. And I’ve been quoted again and again and saying I don’t regret it. And frankly- And saying I don’t think we did enough. And I don’t think we did enough. Just as today, I don’t think we’ve done enough to stop these wars. And I think we must all recognize the injustice of it and do more.
CUOMO: And we are going to discuss your book more in the upcoming, why you’re releasing it now, what you want people to get out of it. But, clearly, you have to understand the sensitivity. You can’t say that somebody’s a family friend, have them in your house, trying to launch their political career and then say this is nothing. Because you make it sound like it’s something by saying it’s nothing.
AYERS: No, absolutely not. What I’m saying about the guilt by association, which, as you know, has a long and tragic history in this country. What I’m saying is that everyone of us actually should talk to lots and lots of people and especially our political leaders. Far from being a demerit on his record, the fact that he’s willing to talk to a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life, listen to a lot of opinions and still have a mind of his own is something we should honor and admire.
CUOMO: But, then you have to come clean about saying, ‘And I’m one of those people. Barack Obama either sought me out or I sought him out to discuss my ideas, my radical ideas and then he made his own decisions. If that’s true, okay. But, it can’t be that and, ‘We never discussed any of this.‘
AYERS: It’s not at all true that he sought me out to listen to my radical ideas or that I sought him out. The truth is we came together in Chicago in the civic community around issues of school improvement, around issues of fighting for the rights of poor neighborhoods to have jobs and housing and so on. (Umm…didn’t he say that just because they associated it didn’t mean they had the same values?) And that’s the full extent of our relationship. So, this idea that we need to know more, like there’s some dark hidden secret, some secret link is just a myth and it’s a myth thrown up by the people who wanted to exploit the politics of fear. And I think it’s a great credit to the American people that those politics were rejected. The idea that we should continue to be frightened and worried and, you know, barricaded is falling down and it should. I’m scared to death, what’s he talking about?
There was some more discussion here and then:
AYERS: It’s not terrorism because it doesn’t target people. It doesn’t target people to either kill or injure. What it does is- You could call it-
CUOMO: How can a sophisticated academic like yourself believe that the inherent recklessness of exploding bombs that you know too well killed three of your own- you know the potential for deadliness there.
AYERS: Right. It was definitely over lots of lines. Definitely dangerous and had we killed or injured anyone, I’m sure it would have been devastating for everyone. Them and us. But my point is that in a period when 2000 people a week are being murdered, how do you end that? What do you do? And, frankly, in those ten years of that war, I was arrested many times. I took direct, non-violent action again and again. But, the question comes, after 70 percent of America oppose the war, after the war has been virtually lost, how do you end it? What do you do? And there’s nothing in the book that says what we did was either brilliant or heroic or wonderful. It tries to understand, as memoirs do, the context in which that actor was acting.
CUOMO: But you would think that looking forward, you would want to set a table for people in addressing the current situations that didn’t expose the violence. I mean, even looking back in the 1974 manifesto of “The Prairie Fire,” of the Weather Underground, one of the people you dedicate this book to is Sirhan Sirhan. I mean, what message does that send? Especially if you don’t reject it today and say, “We praised Sirhan Sirhan. We should not have.”
AYERS: I reject that. Absolutely. Absolutely. He’s thinking, “Dammit, they caught me.” What a liar! I’ll buy a copy of the book – to burn it or maybe I should blow it up.