The Truth Hurts

A group called American Issues Project created this excellent ad on Barack Obama’s relationship with Bill Ayers. The ad is being run on local television stations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan:

Obama has responded to the ad the way liberals often react to free speech that they don’t like: he is trying to shut it down:

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama supporters have inundated stations that are airing the ad, many of them owned by Sinclair Communications, with 93,000 e-mails. He called the ad false, despicable and outrageous.

“Other stations that follow Sinclair’s lead should expect a similar response from people who don’t want the political discourse cheapened with these false, negative attacks,” Vietor said.

In a letter to station managers, Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote: “Your station is committed to operating in the public interest, an objective that cannot be satisfied by accepting for compensation material of such malicious falsity.”

Bauer also wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney, noting that the ad is a “knowing and willful attempt to evade the strictures of federal election law.”

Of course, Obama’s spokesmen didn’t explain what about the ad is false, let alone despicable or outrageous. Every word in the ad is true. I suspect that “despicable” and “outrageous” are synonymous with “effective.”

Let’s hope that Obama doesn’t succeed in suppressing this effort to bring the Ayers issue to the attention of voters.

PAUL adds: The Obama-Ayers connection did not strike me as potentially harmful in the way the Rev. Wright-Obama connection did. To be sure, it would have been better if Obama had not associated with the former terrorist. However, to my knowledge there is no indication that Ayers influenced Obama or served as his mentor. Nor, as far as I could tell, was Obama aware when he sought Ayers out that Ayers was still proud of his terrorist past (except for the fact that he didn’t do enough). Obama reached out to Ayers several years before Ayers publicly revealed his current sentiment.

But Obama failed to put the Ayers connection to rest. He failed because instead of denouncing Ayers, he defended him. Indeed, his campaign quoted with approval statements calling Ayers “mainstream” and “respected.” It also pointed out that charges against Ayers were dropped and that he served no time. Even more ridiculously, it defended Ayers’ disturbing comments, published on 9/11, that he didn’t do enough during his time as terrorist, on the grounds that Ayers wrote the comments before 9/11.

By defending Ayers, Obama made his connection to Ayers a legitimate, though still tangential, issue. He thus finds himself the subject of an ad about the connection. The ad is powerful, but Obama’s reaction to it — calling on the government to curtail the right of citizens to air the ad — seems over-the-top.

Why did Obama defend Ayers when the matter first arose? At one level, it seems like merely bad judgment under pressure. Campaigns think they exist in large part to “hit back” at the opposition, so they do. . .unthinkingly. But would the campaign of a non-radical sufficiently attuned to the evils and dangers of terrorism — say John McCain — have published a defense of Ayers? Not likely.

We should soon be seeing documents from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an outfit where Obama and Ayers served together. Will these documents will help us understand Obama’s initial defense of Ayers, his over-the-top reaction to the ad about their relationship, or both?

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