WAUKESHA, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Trailing in opinion polls, Republican presidential nominee John McCain pressed his effort to raise doubts about Barack Obama's character on Thursday with a fresh attack on his Democratic rival's contacts with a former radical who became a college professor.Former radical.
Bill Ayers: He is now a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the title of Distinguished Professor.No bombs:
Much of the controversy about Ayers during the decade since 2000 stems from an interview he gave to The New York Times on the occasion of the memoir's publication. The reporter quoted him as saying "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough", and, when asked if he would "do it all again" as saying "I don't want to discount the possibility." Ayers has not denied the quotes, but he protested the interviewer's characterizations in a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001: "This is not a question of being misunderstood or 'taken out of context', but of deliberate distortion."Views on his past expressed since 2001:
In the ensuing years, Ayers has repeatedly avowed that when he said he had "no regrets" and that "we didn't do enough" he was speaking only in reference to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War, efforts which he has described as ". . . inadequate [as] the war dragged on for a decade." Ayers has maintained that the two statements were not intended to imply a wish they had set more bombs.
Ayers was asked in a January 2004 interview, "How do you feel about what you did? Would you do it again under similar circumstances?" He replied: "I've thought about this a lot. Being almost 60, it's impossible to not have lots and lots of regrets about lots and lots of things, but the question of did we do something that was horrendous, awful? ... I don't think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable." On September 9, 2008, journalist Jake Tapper reported on the comic strip in Bill Ayers's blog explaining the soundbite: "The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being.... When I say, 'We didn't do enough,' a lot of people rush to think, 'That must mean, "We didn't bomb enough shit."' But that's not the point at all. It's not a tactical statement, it's an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, 'we' means 'everyone.'"There is nothing to condemn about Ayers’ leadership over the past 20 years:
Obama does, indeed, know Bill Ayers as more than just a guy from the neighborhood. So do a host of civic leaders in Chicago. For example, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge board included Susan Crown of the General Dynamics Corp. family; Patricia Graham, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Arnold Weber, past president of Northwestern University and of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Indeed, just about everyone active in Chicago school reform in the early days saw Ayers as a colleague. No one ever accused them of being radical because of their association with Bill Ayers.Leave William Ayers Alone.
Whatever one thinks of Ayers’ actions 40 years ago, there is nothing to condemn, and much to admire, about his leadership and commitment over the past 20 years in making schools better places to teach and learn. And there is nothing to condemn, and much to applaud, in Obama’s close association with those efforts.