I trust Stan entirely that Obama and Ayers were in fact close. But look: even if they weren’t that close it would hardly mean Ayers is insignificant. Anyone who understands politics understands that who a president listens to is relevant. Who will the commander-in-chief let in the room? From what direction will he take advice? Who is on his “team” and who isn’t? What’s a reasonable argument and what isn’t?
Even if Obama personally disliked Ayers and disagreed with his politics in meaningful ways, Obama still found Ayers to be someone worth listening to and working with. Ditto Jeremiah Wright. They were in his tent, not outside it. Ayers and Wright may be more extreme than Obama. Indeed, they surely are. But there is very little evidence in the record that Obama’s ideological compass doesn’t point in their direction. I don’t think Americans should be single issue voters on the Ayers stuff. But I think it is absurd to argue — as the NY Times implicitly does — that this is all meaningless because Obama and Ayers were allegedly less than soulmates.
Again imagine a similar relationship between McCain and an abortion clinic bomber and the Times running a story a month before the election reassuring that it’s no big deal because McCain and Mr. Planned Parenthood Bomber weren’t “close.”