Over in the Corner, Andy McCarthy makes the case as to why William Ayers should matter. I’d just add one more point.
I think it was Dean Barnett who noted that Obama likes to think of himself as a bridge-builder. (It’s a cruel election cycle when we have to go through the final month with Dean in the ICU.) We’ve seen that phrase and metaphor come up repeatedly in Obama’s press clippings.
To be a bridge-builder, you have to stand in between two opposing groups. You can’t pass judgment, or denounce, or conclude that one side has crossed the line. You have to ignore the provocations of a side, urge people to forget past wrongdoing, and convince wary and hurt combatants take leaps of faith in trusting the other.
If you can really build a bridge between two groups that hate each other, God bless you. It’s one of the world’s toughest tasks.
But sometimes, both sides aren’t equally at fault. Some folks deserve to be judged and denounced. Sometimes, provocations can’t be ignored, past wrongdoings shouldn’t be forgotten, and leaps of faith are exercises in naivete. Sometimes, you just can’t build a bridge with someone.
In Ayers, as well as Wright, Rezko, and the ACORN shenanigans, we see that Obama repeatedly tolerates the intolerable. He’s the opposite of quick to judge; he refuses to judge until long after it would do any good. Long after everybody else has figured out the character of his associates, Obama is left lamenting, “This is not the Jeremiah Wright I knew” or “This is not the Tony Rezko I knew” or “This is not the Jim Johnson I knew.” And on and on. Obama is always giving people with well-established track records the benefit of the doubt, often to his own detriment; as President, he’ll bring that same judgment to decisions that affect the country.
If you want to build a bridge with Iran, you can’t denounce Ahmadinejad. If you want to improve relations with Venezuela, you can’t put the spotlight on human rights abuses. If you want a successful summit with Syria, you have to pretend they weren’t building a nuclear reactor on that site Israel bombed.
William Ayers is one mislaid wire away from being Timothy McVeigh, and remembered as one of America’s most bloodthirsty terrorists and unforgivable traitors. There’s no indication that Ayers’ history of building bombs that claimed lives caused Obama a moment’s hesitation.
That’s what their relationship teaches us.