Obama -- Can't 'Swift-Boat' me
The Obama campaign is planning to expand its research and rapid-response team in order to repel attacks it anticipates over his ties to 1960s radical Bill Ayers, indicted developer Antoin Rezko and other figures from his past. David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, tells NEWSWEEK that the Illinois senator won't let himself be "Swift Boated" like John Kerry in 2004. "He's not going to sit there and sing 'Kumbaya' as the missiles are raining in," Axelrod said. "I don't think people should mistake civility for a willingness to deal with the challenges to come." The move appears to be an acknowledgment that the Obama campaign may not have moved aggressively enough when questions about Ayers and Rezko first arose, and it comes amid fresh indications that conservative groups are preparing a wave of attack ads over the links.
Operatives such as David Bossie, whose Citizens United group made the Willie Horton ad that helped sink Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential bid, are sharpening knives as expectations mount that Obama will be their target in the fall. Bossie says he is assembling material for TV spots about Obama's ties with Ayers, a Chicago professor and unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed several government buildings to protest the Vietnam War. The Ayers issue bounced around right-wing media for months, but it received broad exposure at last week's debate on ABC, when Obama was asked a question about their relationship. Obama, who lives near Ayers in Chicago's Hyde Park, attended an event at Ayers's house when Obama ran for the state Senate in 1995—and served on the board of a nonprofit with him for several years. "Obama is aware of the acts Ayers committed when he was 8 years old and has called them 'detestable'," says spokesman Ben LaBolt, adding that Obama occasionally bumps into Ayers in his neighborhood "but has not seen him for months." At a recent dinner party, according to one guest who asked not to be identified discussing a private gathering, Ayers "ridiculed" the notion that Obama shared his left-wing views: "He thought the idea that there was a political connection between them was absurd." (Ayers declined to comment.)
Rezko's Chicago corruption trial, meanwhile, continues to raise questions for Obama. Last week a prosecution witness testified that Obama attended a 2004 party at Rezko's mansion for Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi tycoon who was later banned from the United States due to a fraud conviction in France. A spokeswoman for Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn told NEWSWEEK that the event was a sit-down dinner, at which Quinn made a brief speech welcoming Auchi to Chicago. According to court documents, Rezko later sought to enlist unnamed "Illinois government officials" for help lobbying the Feds to allow Auchi back into the country. A lawyer for Auchi says his client denies any wrongdoing in France and has no recollection of meeting Obama; the senator, who denies doing any favors for Auchi, "does not recall attending this event," says Obama spokesman LaBolt, nor does he "recall meeting Mr. Auchi at any other time."
First off, the notion that he will be "swift-boated" is utterly and completely preposterous. Why? Because his past connections are an issue that voters should be contemplating. While he may not share the same views as William Ayers (Marcie and I have an idea of what Senator Obama adheres to, in terms of political ideology), it doesn't change the fact that he knew who he was when that fundraiser was held. Let's put this in perspective for a second.
IF, and I emphasize IF, Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski had held a fundraiser for George H. W. Bush, or Bob Dole, or George W. Bush, or John McCain you can bet your bottom dollar the media would have been all over them for associations to a domestic terrorist. For the record, neither man threw such a get-together for any of the Republican presidents/nominees I just cited. But the point is that if they had, the media would have been screaming for blood. Neither man was repentant in what they did. Both men believed themselves to be correct in how they were dealing with their gripes. Bill Ayers did the same damn thing.
The difference is that Obama accepted and embraced that fundraiser, and now he's demanding that people forget hie had this relationship; one that went beyond just a fundraiser. He and Obama worked together on the board of the Woods Foundation. Obama is trying to spin this away by saying that he was age 8 when Ayers committed his domestic terrorism. That's all well and good, but it doesn't wash in the age of terrorism. A lot of voters aren't too keen that he rubbed elbows with a man connected to the most dangerous domestic terrorist group in the United States, at a time when they were committed to anarchy and upheaval.
Second, Tony Rezko, we believe, provides a greater avenue of attack on Obama. Not only does it paint him as integrally tied to the "Chicago Way" of politics -- a blend of politics that make Louisiana corruption pale in comparison. He's connected to Gov. Blagojevich, who is under federal investigation now for corruption; Mayor Daley, who's family is notorious for their corrupt way of running Chicago; and Nadhmi Auchi, who was convicted in France on his illegal commissions. While he did receive a suspended sentence, he was still found guilty in the ELF scandal.
Obama's ties tell voters several things. Among them is the fact that he is obviously too incompetent to recognize the dirty dealings going on around him. That's the case with Blagojevich, Daley, and Rezko. In the case of Ayers, we chalk it up to extremely poor judgment. The same sort of poor judgment that could likely be an albatross around Hillary's neck despite the fact that she didn't directly request the pardon of Linda Sue Evans or Susan Rosenberg. Her husband did, and he also pardoned Marc Rich, who was still trying to outrun an indictment handed down by then-US Attorney Rudy Giuliani.
With those he's associated himself with, they will be the people that voters look at when it comes to his judgment. This isn't about swift-boating. It's about asking yourselves if you want a man in the Oval Office that has had ties to corrupt politicians and former terrorists. Furthermore, it speaks volumes about his acumen; the simple fact that he either didn't recognize those around him with their shady dealings, or the fact he was willing to look the other way.
Anyway you cut it, it tells voters he's not about any sort of change in Washington, DC, unless that "change" is in how the shady deals are hidden.