Barack Obama’s critics appropriately have spotlighted his ties to William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, the remorseless co-founders and leaders of the terrorist Weather Underground. However, Obama’s detractors largely overlook Ayers’ campaign contribution to Obama.
On April 2, 2001, Ayers donated $200 to Obama’s Illinois State Senate re-election campaign. Though not a jackpot, this represents Ayers’ only recorded political contribution.
The Illinois State Board of Elections’ online database shows that Ayers donated to no other candidate. The websites of the Federal Elections Commission, The Center for Responsive Politics (opensecrets.org), and NewsMeat.com indicate that Ayers has made no disclosed federal campaign contributions.
Why is this important?
First, recall Ayers’ actions. As a top Weatherman, Ayers inspired, instructed, and directed a domestic-terrorist network that bombed no fewer than 18 locations. Among them: the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Presidio Army Base, plus New York’s Queens Courthouse, the 103rd Precinct, and the headquarters of ITT and the NYPD. A bomb prematurely detonated on Greenwich Village’s West 11th Street on March 7, 1970, killing three Weathermen. The nail-filled device was supposed to blast an Officers’ Club dance at New Jersey’s Fort Dix Army Base. It would have maimed and likely killed scores of GIs and their dates and spouses.
Had it exploded on schedule, Ayers said it would have torn "through windows and walls and, yes, people too."
The Weather Underground’s October 20, 1981 robbery of $1.6 million from a Brink’s armored car triggered a shootout in Nyack, New York that killed guard Peter Paige and Nyack policemen Waverly Brown and Edward O’Grady.
Ayers laments nothing.
"I don’t regret setting bombs," he said in 2001. "I feel we didn’t do enough."
Second, in spite of all this, Obama associated with Ayers, on the boards of Chicago’s Woods Fund and the $160 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge, to which Ayers helped appoint Obama chairman of the board. Ayers and Dohrn — his radical, violent, unrepentant wife — welcomed Obama to their Chicago home for a 1995 reception that launched his first Illinois State Senate bid.
Obama has struggled to explain why he stood in the living room of an unapologetic bomb thrower.
"This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood," Obama dismissively stated on April 16. Campaign strategist David Axelrod told CNN October 6 that Obama "certainly didn’t know the history" of Ayers.
On October 9, Obama pivoted afresh and told radio host Michael Smerconish: "Ultimately, I ended up learning about the fact that (Ayers) had engaged in this reprehensible act 40 years ago, but I was 8 years old at the time, and I assumed that he had been rehabilitated."
Obama obviously did not know Ayers at age 8. But why was Obama feted in Ayers and Dohrn’s home at age 34? Why did Obama administer Ayers’ grant money at age 36? Why did Obama co-supervise the Woods Fund with Ayers at age 41?
Third, and most important, the ambitious Obama obviously benefited by associating with the prominent, albeit extremist Ayers. But why was Ayers so supportive, hospitable, and generous toward Obama?
Ayers could have underwritten stalwart congressional Left-wingers like Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders or such Democrats as Michigan’s John Conyers, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich, Illinois’ former Black Panther Bobby Rush, New York’s Jose Serrano, and California’s Maxine Waters or Barbara Boxer. As the record shows, they have not enjoyed a dime of Ayers’ money — nor has anyone else, except Obama, who cashed Ayers’ $200 check.
"I am as much an anarchist as I am a Marxist," Ayers declared on college radio April 12, 2002. He has said: "I’m a radical, Leftist, small ‘c’ communist."
Whatever Obama saw (or missed) in Ayers, Americans should wonder what Ayers saw in the man who became the farthest-Left U.S. senator, Barack Obama.
(Deroy Murdock is a columnist and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock(at)gmail.com)