We know Obama
I am disappointed that The Times chose to publish Charles Krauthammer’s “Obama’s associations are indeed relevant” [syndicated column, Oct. 12], in which he repeats the lies and distortions surrounding Sen. Barack Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers put forth by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.
Yes, Ayers was a radical war protester 30+ years before Obama met him. However, no conclusions about Obama’s character can be drawn from that fact, given both who Ayers became in the intervening three decades and the context in which Obama met Ayers.
By the mid-1990s when Obama met him, Ayers was a widely respected “distinguished” professor of education who, in 1997, was named “Chicago citizen of the year” for his work on improving public education.
There is no evidence that Obama was aware of who Ayers was back in the 1960s, and it’s inconceivable that the subject of Ayers’ past ever came up during the board meetings they attended together.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that Krauthammer doesn’t cast any similar aspersions on the myriad other community and education leaders who knew and worked with Ayers, including Republican philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg.
The Annenberg Challenge project to improve public education was supported by politicians and civic leaders from both parties throughout the Chicago area, as was the Woods Fund anti-poverty project.
That Obama was asked to chair the board of the Annenberg project by a Republican demonstrates
Obama’s ability to work across party lines for the common good.
And what about the other faculty members at the public university where Ayers is a professor? Are they, as Krauthammer claims of Obama, “[swimming] easily and without protest” in a “fetid pond?” Should they refuse even to shake hands with their colleague, as Krauthammer claims any decent American would? Only in Republican “Newspeak” (George Orwell, 1984) could community service to improve public education and fight poverty be characterized as evidence of Obama’s “expediency,” “cynicism and ruthlessness,” and “sheer indecency.”
The claim that Obama needs to be more “honest and open” about his association with Ayers assumes that something is hidden, yet there’s not one shred of evidence that there was anything unsavory about their interactions whatsoever — nothing even remotely related to Ayers’ radical past and nothing that Obama should have any reason to hide. Obama worked with a leading education professional on projects to improve education and reduce poverty.
End of story.
— Paula Bennett, Seattle