I've been reading for a while now about Bill Ayers and Obama's association with him, and I keep coming back to it. It crystallized my doubts about Obama, and what I read this morning dispelled all doubts that I was, perhaps, being too hard on the man.
I was born in the mid-60s, so like Obama I was a pretty young fellow when the Weather Underground crimes of Ayers, Dohrn, Rudd, Boudin et al were committed. So I had a vague sense at best of what they did, but I knew it was safely filed under the category of Bad Things.
Which means I knew vaguely about the bombings at the Pentagon and the Capitol Building, and that they had not killed anyone, but I regarded that as being luck more than design, no matter what Ayers claimed.
After those "harmless" bombings, came the premature explosion of bombs intended for a dance for Non-Commissioned Officers at Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey. Apparently, striking this blow would cripple the U.S. war effort in Vietnam, or something. From Wikipedia:
The Greenwich Village townhouse explosion was the premature detonation of a bomb as it was being assembled by members of the American "urban guerilla" organization, Weatherman (later rechristened the Weather Underground), in the basement of a townhouse at 18 West 11th Street in New York City's Greenwich Village. The three persons nearest the bomb were killed, two others in the house were slightly injured, and the four story townhouse was reduced to rubble and caught fire. Shortly before noon on Friday, March 6, 1970, people in the townhouse were assembling anti-personnel weapons armed with roofing nails and packed with dynamite. Years later, former members of the organization who had not been at the scene advanced differing (but not incompatible) claims as to the plans for use of the bombs. Thus, according to Mark Rudd, the plan was to set them off that evening at a dance for noncommissioned officers at the Fort Dix, New Jersey Army base. According to a detractor, "former members" have reported that some of the bombs were destined for the Fort Dix dance and others for Butler Library at Columbia University.Never fear, though, Kathy Boudin at least turned up again:
Killed by the blast were Theodore Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins. Surviving in a stunned and bleeding state were Weatherman members Kathy Boudin and Cathlyn Wilkerson, who were upstairs at the moment of the blast. The two survivors were led out from the burning structure by a police officer and the off-duty New York City Housing Authority patrolman who had entered in search of survivors. The rescuers were treated at St. Vincent's Hospital for smoke inhalation.
Boudin and Wilkerson disappeared before they could be questioned. They had been free on bail on assault charges stemming from the Days of Rage riots in Chicago. A neighbor who rendered aid after the blast described them as "dazed and trembling" as they were led "staggering" from the wreckage, one clad only in blue jeans and the other naked. The neighbor brought them to her house, where they showered, borrowed some clothing and told a housekeeper they were going to a local drugstore, then got into a taxi and disappeared.
The building was owned by Wilkerson's father, a radio-station executive. As the search for bodies continued days after the explosion, Wilkerson's parents made a televised appeal to their missing daughter to avoid needlessly risking the lives of searchers. They asked her to "let us know how many more people, if any, are still left in the ruins of our home", saying "more lives would be needlessly lost and only you have the key".
On October 20, 1981 heavily armed terrorists staged a daylight assault on a Brinks armored car at the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, New York. In the attack that followed, Brinks guard Peter Paige was killed and Joseph Trombino seriously wounded, nearly losing his arm to the gunman’s bullets. Another Brinks guard, James Kelly, suffered wounds and a concussion as the gunmen pumped automatic weapon fire into the armored vehicle.This is where we get to the part that set my blood boiling. Kathy Boudin obviously used her "don't worry, officers, I'm just a white middle class girl" demeanor to set them up to be gunned down by her Black Liberation Army compatriots in the back of the U-Haul. She might as well have gunned down the policemen herself. And, she did all this a full eleven years after helping build bombs nearly killed her, and cost her the lives of three of her fellow radicals, showing that she had learned nothing at all about the utter futility of her violent extremism.
After leaving the mall the gunmen fled east, ditching their getaway car and entering the rear of a waiting U-Haul truck being driven by co-conspirators. This was an attempt to escape detection, as the participants knew that the police would be on the lookout for the male blacks that robbed the armored car. The gunmen were to be driven to safety by white accomplices, thinking they would easily escape back to New York City in the confusion immediately following the robbery.
Unfortunately for them a high school student witnessed the switch from the original getaway car to the U-Haul. Looking out her bedroom window, she notified the local police and an alert was broadcast to officers on patrol.
Ten minutes later Nyack Police officers were conducting a roadblock at Exit 11 of the New York State Thruway. Spotting a U-Haul, they ordered it to the side of the road. The driver and passenger in the front of the U-Haul did not match the description of the gunmen at the mall. Further, police radio transmissions had broadcast reports of another U-Haul being spotted heading south into New Jersey on Rt. 304.
Kathy Boudin, an occupant of the U-Haul, complained to the police that their guns made her nervous. Apparently, thinking they had the wrong U-Haul, the police stowed their weapons and shotgun. At that moment the rear of the U-Haul flew open and half a dozen heavily armed killers jumped out, each with military-style fully automatic weapons. Police Officer Waverly Brown was hit immediately and died at the scene. Detective Arthur Keenan was struck before he was able to take cover and return fire. Sgt. Edward O’Grady was shot numerous times and died ninety minutes later at Nyack Hospital. Officer Brian Lennon exchanged shots but was seriously outnumbered and under heavy fire.
After Boudin went to jail, Bill Ayers and his wife raised Kathy Boudin's son Chesa Boudin as their own. Any doubts that Ayers has repented one bit of the same idiocy as Chesa's mother are dispelled by the following words from Chesa himself, now a newly-minted Rhodes Scholar: "We have a different name for the war we're fighting now — now we call it the war on terrorism, then they called it the war on communism. My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I'm dedicated to the same thing."
Yeah, Chesa, your parents helped murder policemen because that actually improved lives in the rest of the world. How did anyone let this morally blind idiot into Yale, much less into the Rhodes Scholar program?
So Chesa's adoptive father Bill "I don't regret a thing. I think we didn't do enough" Ayers leads us, at long last, back to Barack Obama. It doesn't really matter whether you think Obama agrees with violent radicals like Ayers, or just went along with working with him at the Annenberg Foundation in Chicago for well over five years.
I actually think it's worse if Obama thinks poorly of Ayers, because it means Obama doesn't have a spine worth speaking of. It means that, just to get ahead in Chicago politics, Obama was willing to work with a leftist thug anyone should have been proud to spurn.
And that's when it hit me -- Obama has no bottom line. He has nothing that will make him rise up and say, "No! No! Hell no! I won't do it!" He's the quintessential go-along, get-along example of utter political spinelessness. And this might well be how he manages to glide by long enough to get elected, but it's why I feel he will be an utter disaster as a President, which is a far more serious matter.
Think of it -- which of the major Democratic constituencies has he been willing to piss off? The anti-war left? Nope. The protectionists in Big Labor? Not them, he's in the bag for them. The environmentalists who won't countenance nuclear power or drilling in the U.S.? Nah, he's their puppy too.
The list is endless, and he is basically the perfect liberal checklist -- every box is checked. The idiocy and manifest incompetence of Bush may be enough for Obama to ride the wave of "anyone but a Republican!" all the way to the White House, but what happens after that?
What if Obama is faced with a crisis where he can't please everyone?! As in, not having enough cash for the federal government to pass all of Obama's programs and give a middle class tax cut? Or keeping the anti-war folks happy by departing Iraq, even if things take a turn for the worse there? Such crises and many more are inevitable, and where is Obama's bottom line? I can't say. Can you?
Great leaders are the ones who actually stand for something, and let the chips fall where they may. Obama may be a great campaigner, but I think his utter lack of a bottom line means we'll be in for a second round of Jimmy Carter with him -- neither his enemies nor his allies will respect him, to the world's detriment.
So that's my bottom line on Obama: if he doesn't have enough of a spine to say "hell no!" to working with Bill Ayers, where will he draw the line?
I am absolutely certain that, both for better and for worse, McCain does have a bottom line, stuff he will simply not countenance. Both his enemies and his Republican allies have learned this. The certainty that there are certain things on which you simply do not cross a President McCain will serve his country much better than Obama's utter lack of similar red lines.