Barack Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, claims Obama did not know that Bill Ayers was a domestic terrorist. You can see the claim here.
I think that is fatuous nonsense. Why? Let me lay it out to you:
Barack Obama, at Bill Ayers' behest, began work in 1995 at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
In 1994, the Democrats decided 1996 would be an appropriate time to go back to Chicago for a convention. The whole world of Democratic politics was paying attention in 1994 after that was announced.
In 1994, Obama was paying attention. He was in the political currents already.
On August 7, 1994, the Chicago Sun-Times ran an article by Maureen O'Donnell about the convention. It was huge news because of what happened in Chicago in 1968 at the last Democratic Convention.
The news stories will filled with reminders of the riots of '68 and interviews with the key players, including the O'Donnell piece, in which she wrote:
Bill Ayers, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, protested at the '68 convention. The former Weather Underground activist also spent 11 years as a fugitive after the Days of Rage disturbances in 1969:"It's kind of a riot" he says with a laugh about the upcoming convention."I don't think people think of Chicago as the site of the ('68) convention. Chicago is still held up as the city of broad shoulders, even though the shoulders are slumping precipitously right now. When I travel and say Chicago, people say, 'Ah, Michael Jordan.'"You can find irony in it. To me it's not surprising that there's going to be a Democratic convention here. It's one of the great four or five convention cities. In a sense, they had to get over it."I'm planning to demonstrate. If they invade Haiti, you can count on it."
Of course she called him an "activist," not "terrorist," but did throw in the fugitive part.
As the convention came to town in 1996, the New York Times ran an article on August 26, 1996, by John Kifner, in which he wrote,
Mayor Daley's agenda for public schools draws on two other consultants: Mike Klonsky, who in 1968 was national chairman of the S.D.S. and a demonstration organizer here, and a University of Illinois professor named Bill Ayers.In an earlier life, *Mr. Ayers headed the violent Weather Underground faction of the S.D.S.*, whose members saw themselves as revolutionary street fighters. His wife, Bernardine Dohrn, an S.D.S. leader once among the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most wanted, is now a lawyer with a Northwestern University legal aid project for troubled youths.
At the height of this exposure, major media outlets were quoting Bill Ayers and pointing out his radical past.
What else happened in 1996 when the media was reminiscing about the Democratic Convention of 1968, and interviewing key players like Bill Ayers?
Bill Ayers held a political fundraiser for Barack Obama. [Note: There is some conflict as to whether the fundraiser was in 1995 or 1996. Nonetheless, (a) the coverage of Ayers was extensive after 1994 leading up to the 1996 convention and (b) Ayers did contribute to Obama's campaign in 1996]
And we're really supposed to believe Obama did not know, by 1996, given all the major media coverage of the 1996 Democratic Convention going back to Chicago despite the 1968 riots -- including local and national media interviews with Bill Ayers on the subject -- that Obama did not know?
You've got to be kidding me.
Here are a few more news articles to show you how pervasive the coverage of Ayers was at the time:
From USA Today on August 27, 1996:
Sixties radicals Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, once leaders of the Weather Underground, are hosting a fund-raising event Tuesday night for Democrats Online, an Internet service starting up the same night. It features policy discussions and an endorsement page where users explain why they support Clinton.
From the Chicago Tribune on September 1, 1996:
DeZutter, now a professor at Malcolm X College, who long ago had been a reporter for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News, told me that he and his associates put together a gold mine of information and perks for out-of-town reporters.The theory was that some among the 15,000 media reps who came here for the convention would be grateful to the activists and thus bestow national and even international coverage on their causes.The carrot included a gang file of phone numbers and current addresses of many of the hottest players in Chicago's '60s chaos. Among those listed are Frank Sullivan, Chicago police spokesman during the 1968 riots; **one-time fugitive Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers**; and Richard J. Elrod, the former Cook County sheriff who won great admiration for his courage handling crippling injuries he endured while helping police during one of the era's worst riots, the 1969 Days of Rage disturbances.
And if, somehow, you want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that in 1996 he was too busy raising money to pay attention to who his boss was, how about August 3, 1997, and this Chicago Tribune story:
When you're talking to Bill Ayers, it is hard to believe the soft-spoken, bespectacled education professor is the same guy the FBI was chasing for 11 years as a dangerous radical.Nor is it easy to believe his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, also was a member of the Weather Underground back in the '60s. They married while underground and resurfaced during the 1980s. Now he is an adviser to Mayor Richard M. Daley's nationally acclaimed education reform effort and she heads a family and children's justice program at Northwestern University Law School
Are we really going to give this guy a pass by believing he did not know?
If Obama really did not know, we must question his fitness to be President. A man that self-absorbed as to miss something this big playing out among his circle of supporters, is too clueless to be President.