Wednesday, October 15, 2008

John McCain Consorts With Convicted Drug Felons

Well, not exactly. But that would be the headline if Democrats treated McCain like the GOP is treating Obama on the Ayers issue. After all, while McCain and Rush Limbaugh aren't exactly the best of friends, Limbaugh is (despite his promises to the contrary) pushing McCain. And Limbaugh, you will recall, is a drug felon from his days as an oxycontin addict. So, the headline works.

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a confession of sorts: the Ayers story is without merit. In "My Friend Bill Ayers," WSJ columnist Thomas Frank acknowledges that he, too, is "guilty" of association with Bill Ayers.

Here's what Frank has to say:

"For days on end, the Republican presidential campaign has put nearly all of its remaining political capital on emphasizing Mr. Obama's time on various foundation boards with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen, which planted bombs and issued preposterous statements in the Vietnam era. Some on the right seem to believe Mr. Ayers is Mr. Obama's puppet-master, while others are content merely to insist that the association proves Mr. Obama to be soft on terrorism. Maybe he's soft on anarchy and repudiation, too."

"I can personally attest to the idiocy of it all because I am a friend of Mr. Ayers. In fact, I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill."

"Bill's got a lot of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble. Moral qualities which, by the way, were celebrated boisterously on day one of the GOP convention in September."

"Mr. Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where his work is esteemed by colleagues of different political viewpoints. Herbert Walberg, an advocate of school vouchers who is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, told me he remembers Mr. Ayers as 'a responsible colleague, in the professional sense of the word.' Bill Schubert, who served as the chairman of UIC's Department of Curriculum and Instruction for many years, thinks so highly of Mr. Ayers that, in response to the current allegations, he compiled a lengthy resume of the man's books, journal articles, guest lectures and keynote speeches. Mr. Ayers has been involved with countless foundation efforts and has received various awards. He volunteers for everything. He may once have been wated by the FBI, but in the intervening years the man has become such a good citizen he ought to be an honorary Eagle scout."


"The McCain campaign has made much of its leader's honor and bravery, but now it has chosen to mount its greatest attack against a man who poses no conceivable threat to the country, who has nothing to do with this year's issues, and who cannot or will not defend himself. Apparently this makes him an irresistible target."

"There are a lot of things to call this tactic, but 'country first' isn't one of them. The nation wants its hope and confidence restored, and Republican leadres have chosen instead to wave the bloody shirt. This their vilest hour."

And for all that, we bet Frank's email box at the WSJ is rapidly filling with vitriol from the right.

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