The third installment of Bill O’Reilly’s sit-down with Barack Obama aired on Fox News last night. This portion of their discussion focused almost exclusively on Obama’s troubling associations with the likes of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and far-left bloggers. O’Reilly challenged Obama more directly on these questions than anyone else I’ve seen this campaign. Due to the nature of the television beast, they barely scratched the surface on Ayers (and ignored Tony Rezko altogether), but what O’Reilly did manage to elicit from Obama was fairly interesting.
Sen. Obama approached the entire subject of associations with the lame, pre-emptive excuse that, hey, he knows a lot of people:
Obama: “I know thousands of people. Right? So, understandably, people will pick out folks who they think they can score political points with.”
Yes, how petty of Obama’s critics to cherry-pick his pastor of 20 years and an unrepentant terrorist with whom Obama has held a far-reaching working and personal relationship.
On the subject of Jeremiah Wright, Obama recycled his old excuses:
Obama: “This whole notion that he was my spiritual mentor and all this stuff – this is something that I’ve consistently discussed. I had not heard him make the offensive comments that ended up being looped on this show constantly, and I was offended by them.”
O’Reilly: “You had never heard those comments?”
Obama: “I hadn’t heard those comments.”
O’Reilly: “He was selling them in the lobby of the church.”
Obama: “What can I tell ya?”
Actually, these are not issues that Obama has discussed with any level of consistency. He defended Wright for days, devoting an entire speech on race to the controversy, before throwing Wright under the bus after his National Press Club performance. Also, is Obama disputing the fact that Wright was, indeed, his spiritual mentor? Obama has described him as such as recently as last year. Perhaps Obama forgot that he tapped Wright as an official spiritual advisor to his presidential campaign before Wright’s outrageous comments went viral.
In addition, exit polling data from several Democratic primaries indicate the public isn’t entirely buying Obama’s story that he had never heard any of Jeremiah Wright’s greatest hits. Why, then, did Obama rescind Wright’s invitation to pray at his campaign launch event in Springfield? At the time, he blamed the snub on Wright’s inflammatory sermons, calling the Sunday messages “kind of rough.” Indeed, in one of Obama’s own memoirs, he quotes the reverend railing against “white folks’ greed.” Perhaps that was just one of the “five dumbest things” Wright ever said.
Having exhausted the Wright issue, Obama pivoted to William Ayers:
Obama: “Now on this Ayers thing . . . this guy did something despicable 40 years ago. . . . Here’s a guy who does something despicable when I’m eight years old . . . he’s not part of my campaign, he’s not an advisor of mine. He’s somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.
Here, Obama dramatically understates his relationship with Ayers by repeating the “eight years old” line. The fact remains that Ayers is utterly unrepentant to this day about his terrorist group’s bombings, one of which was intended to target a U.S. Army dance. Ayers has stated repeatedly that he does not regret what he did and only wishes he had done more. Just this week, a bizarre cartoon appeared on Ayers’s website stating that violent resistance is not necessarily the answer to solving humanity’s ills.
Obama worked closely alongside Ayers within two separate far-left organizations: The Woods Foundation, and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Ayers and his wife hosted Obama’s first-ever political gathering at their home, and Ayers has donated to Obama. This is not merely somebody that Obama knows “from the neighborhood,” as he preposterously asserted in the Philadelphia debate. It’s a shame that O’Reilly didn’t have the time — or perhaps the information — to adequately confront Obama with these details.
Obama then attempted to slither away from the topic altogether by labeling it a distraction. Average Americans who are struggling to pay the bills, he explained, don’t really care about Bill Ayers. He was essentially channeling his wife: The Ayers discussion doesn’t help the children.
Defending his decision to attend the Daily Kos convention, in spite of the truly vicious rhetoric that appears on that website with regularity, Obama goes down the intellectually dishonest moral equivalency path:
Obama: “There’s a whole bunch of stuff said on Fox about me that is completely biased. . . . I don’t assume that you (O’Reilly) have to take responsibility for everything that’s said on Fox News any more than I’d expect you to take responsibility for everything that’s said on Daily Kos.”
O’Reilly: “That’s a hateful thing. Fox News is not hateful.”
O’Reilly: “It isn’t! Some of those guys…”
Obama: “If you were watching Sean Hannity consistently…”
O’Reilly: “He’s a commentator”
Obama: “That’s all these bloggers are. I’m not making an excuse for them.”
O’Reilly: “Whoa, Hannity’s never said he wants Dick Cheney to die of cancer.”
Evidently Sean Hannity, who has been a relentless critic of Barack Obama for months, is the same as the Daily Kos crowd as far as Obama is concerned. Can the Obama campaign please cite a single example of Hannity promoting lies about their candidate’s family, wishing death upon an American politician with whom he disagrees, or anything of the sort? They can’t. Kosmonaut-in-chief Markos Moulitsas infamously reacted to the brutal 2004 murders of American contractors in Iraq by callously declaring, “screw them.” There is absolutely no equivalency between Moulitsas and Hannity. This was a totally unfair smear by Obama, who diminished himself by making it.
The interview concluded:
Obama: “[You should not] put me in a position where every tangential relationship…”
O’Reilly: “There’s a pattern of behavior here.”
Obama: “There is not a pattern of behavior. It is classic guilt by association.”
O’Reilly: “You feel comfortable, for some reason, in far left precincts. That’s the pattern of behavior that I see.”
Obama: “But Bill, I have friends who are on the far right.”
Yes, yes, we know — like Tom Coburn, that wacky pro-life Senator! Good grief.