The Corner

Megyn Kelly Revisits Ayers and Obama

Megyn Kelly’s powerful interviews of Bill Ayers have put the Ayers-Obama relationship back in the news.  Kelly’s questioning and excellent follow-on segments deftly exposed Ayers’ airbrushing of his violent past.  This was compelling television.

I do wish, however, that Kelly had pressed Ayers as hard on the nature of his relationship with President Obama as she did on his terrorist past.  Ayers and Obama had a much tighter political alliance than Ayers admitted to on Kelly’s show, and we know more about that alliance now than we did when I first exposed details of it in 2008.  So let’s correct the record.

Kelly has focused on Ayers’ fundraiser for Obama’s first political campaign, rather than their time together on a couple of left-leaning Chicago foundation boards.  The thought seems to be that anyone can sit beside someone else on a board without having much of a relationship.

Yet Obama didn’t just sit on a couple of foundation boards with Ayers.  For one thing, Obama was effectively funding Ayers’ radical education projects, as well as the work of Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and the work of Ayers’ closest political allies.  Substantial evidence also indicates that it was Ayers who brought Obama onto the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.  More shocking, it was almost certainly Obama himself who brought Ayers onto the Woods Fund Board.

In 2008, I made the point about Ayers bringing Obama on as head of the education foundation he personally created, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.  The Obama campaign strenuously denied my claim at the time, but Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick has since effectively confirmed it.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the 2008 campaign that I was able to piece together the evidence indicating that Obama himself was almost certainly responsible for bringing Ayers onto the Woods Fund Board.  I lay out the evidence in Radical-in-Chief, in the course of painting a broader picture of the Obama-Ayers alliance.  I also explain why Obama brought Ayers onto the Woods Fund Board: to advance Obama’s plans to steer even greater portions of Woods Fund money to ACORN and other radical groups.

In short, we know now, even more than we did in 2008, that Ayers and Obama were close political allies, not just two people who happened to be thrown into a room together.  They were close enough to trust each other to fund their own work, and the work of their closest—and very radical—supporters.  And they recruited each other to foundation posts for precisely this purpose.

Kelly’s interviews of Ayers have been gripping, and her follow-up segments devastating.  But the Ayers-Obama relationship was far more substantial than even the Kelly File has indicated.  And of course, both Obama and Ayers have consistently covered up the truth about their alliance for years.

More important, as I explain in Radical-in-Chief, Obama’s relationship to high-profile radicals like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Obama was part and parcel of Chicago’s vast circle of hard leftists, going far beyond Ayers and Wright.  The positions of these groups—on issues like health care, energy, immigration, urban affairs, and foreign policy—anticipates nearly every aspect of Obama’s current agenda, not to mention his divisive rhetoric and his administration’s techniques for silencing enemies.  The Obama of 1995 turns out to have been a better predictor of the present than the supposedly post-partisan Obama of 2008.

So the truth about Obama and Ayers is more than an easy “gotcha.”  Rightly understood, it’s a window onto the much larger leftist world that shaped Obama then, and explains the fate of his presidency now.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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