The sound bites from the Right claim that Senator Obama is palling around with terrorists. The sound bites from the Left claim that Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood with whom Senator Obama sat on a charitable board. Neither gets to the heart of the matter.
Some Say Obama is Arrogant
But, I Say He's Just Puttin' on Ayers
But, I Say He's Just Puttin' on Ayers
The only two researchers that I know of that are painstakingly digging into this issue are Stanley Kurtz and Steve Diamond. Kurtz is a researcher from the far Right. Diamond is a researcher from the far Left.
The MSM finally came out with an article on October 3rd in the New York Times that takes a look at the relationship. The conclusion: No big deal.
Both Kurtz and Diamond, who have been researching for months, call the NYT reporting a whitewash, ignoring mountains of available evidence.
Kurtz has written some of his findings here and here.
Since, in my debates about the nature of Obama's real politics as opposed to those he presents before a general election, I have been accused of extreme bias by only listening to one side, I will present the arguments of the researcher from the Left.
Steve Diamond, a lawyer and college professor, is from the far Left as you may tell by reading his blog. He has posted many articles dealing with his research on the Obama/Ayers connection.
I will quote extensively from one long article by Diamond titled 'Ayers/Obama Update: The David Blaine Award Goes to ... The New York Times Magic Act!
So what is the evidence of the influence of Ayers' world view on Obama and his presidential candidacy?Senator Obama has been hailed as a great speaker. But his greatest ability, in my opinion, is using rhetorical sleight of tongue to obfuscate his political agenda. (As opposed to Biden's rhetorical flourishes) Steve Diamond points it out in the sentence, 'Barack Obama led the effort to craft slightly altered wording to the statement of purpose.'
First, what is the Ayers' world view? Ayers is what political scientists call a "neo-stalinist." Neo-stalinism is an authoritarian form of politics which attempts to control and build social institutions to impose state control of the economy, politics and culture on the general population. It has similarities to the original Stalinism found in the former Soviet Union but it arose in other countries and used slightly different forms and in some instances created regimes that were at odds for various reasons with the Russian regime.
Classic examples of neo-stalinist regimes - regimes that Ayers and people in his political camp respect and support - are the Chavez regime in Venezuela, the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, the Castro regime in Cuba, and the maoist regime in China.
How could such a world view have anything to do with Obama? Well, the route that Ayers and his camp have followed to promote his form of authoritarian politics is a critical policy area: education.
Ayers advocates what he calls a "social justice" approach to education. What that means is the promotion of his authoritarian politics through our public school system. Four key tactics that Ayers supports in order to help implement his world view are
* the creation of "local school councils" (LSCs) like those that Ayers has promoted in Chicago for the last 20 years;
* "small schools" which Ayers has also promoted since the early 1990s in Chicago and elsewhere;
* the advocacy of what Ayers and others call "social justice" teaching; and
* the payment of reparations through education spending to correct what he has seen for 40 years as the fundamentally racist nature of American society.
Local school councils and small schools, I should hasten to point out, have nothing to do with improving student test scores and outcomes. That is not their purpose and, in fact, the Ayers camp is actually opposed to objective standards like test scores as a measure of the effectiveness of our schools. The purpose of these entities is to create a political base for Ayers and his band of fellow traveling authoritarians to push their wider political agenda.
Once inside the schools Ayers, who now heads the curriculum division of the leading education professional association, attempts to alter the teaching content of classrooms to include a "politically correct" "social justice" curriculum.[...]
And it turns out that Barack Obama also supports all four of those key tactical ideas and has since the earliest days of his political career.[...]
Thus, for example, the Times did not tell its readers that when Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago from 1985 to 1988 the organization he led, the Developing Communities Project (DCP), was a leading player in the lobbying campaign for "local school councils" in Chicago in the wake of a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union.
LSCs were mandated by a state law put in place in 1988 as a result of that lobbying. But the Times did not explain that Bill Ayers was a leading activist in that lobbying effort, a leading member alongside Obama's DCP in the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools which led the campaign for the LSCs.[...]
And when the New York Times discussed the joint work of Obama and Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, they did not explain that among the most important projects of the Challenge were the very same four policies so critical to Ayers political strategy:
* promotion of local school councils,
* financial support for small schools,
* promotion of a "social justice" teaching agenda, and
* a race based approach to education policy.
They ignored the written evidence I provided them that demonstrated that Obama was appointed to the chairmanship of the Challenge board by Bill Ayers, who conceived, founded, secured $50 million to support and led the Challenge from 1993 to 2002.
They ignored the hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled by the Challenge to the Small Schools Workshop which was founded by Ayers and then directed by Mike Klonsky who continues to head it up still.
Since the Times is uninterested, let me explain who Klonsky is. Klonsky was an actual stalinist active in the SDS with Ayers who supported the Russians politically until 1968 when he was called by Bill Ayers' future wife, Bernardine Dohrn, who was in eastern Europe at the time and told the Russians had invaded Czechoslovakia. Klonsky decided then his best bet was to back China! Klonsky formed a maoist party a few years later and even traveled to Beijing in 1977 where he was warmly greeted by the Communist Party leadership.
In the late 80s Klonsky went back to graduate school - as a Ph.D. student studying under his former SDS comrade, Bill Ayers, now on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on "small schools." He and Ayers have used that project, with the help of the hundreds of thousands of dollars approved for them by Barack Obama while Obama chaired the Annenberg Challenge, to invade numerous Chicago schools as part of their political campaign to establish an authoritarian beach head in American society. ...
However, as the 90s unfolded mainstream support for the LSCs began to fade. Thus, when Ayers proposed the Leadership Development Initiative in 1996, he ran into a buzz saw of opposition at the board of directors of the Annenberg Challenge,...
But the CAC funded the Initiative anyway. How did that happen? Barack Obama led the effort to craft slightly altered wording to the statement of purpose for the Initiative and eventually Weber relented. Ayers got his $2 million and over the next several years worked with Ken Rolling, the executive director of the CAC, to set up programs to recruit and train candidates for the LSCs, thus strengthening Ayers ability to establish his base inside the Chicago public school system.[...]
...As business and other support for the LSCs set up in 1988 waned because they were not actually improving student outcomes, Mayor Daley began moves to gut the LSCs of their power to fire principals and control teachers.[...]
...This, too, is ignored by the Times even though it is clear evidence of the intensely close political alliance between Obama and Ayers as Obama was beginning his climb to prominence in Chicago and Illinois politics.[...]
Oh, and in case you thought it might be just a tiny bit useful to consider whether Ayers today has any influence on Obama, the candidate, the Times, perhaps now exhausted by their sleight of hand, simply states: "Since 2002, there is little public evidence of their relationship."
Would that it were so. But again the Times ignores the very public evidence.
In fact, Obama supports an approach to education based on race - one of the four central lifelong concerns of Ayers - as indicated in his appointment as a key education advisor Linda Darling-Hammond. Darling-Hammond is a leading race theorist in education who has taught at Columbia and now Stanford. She contributed a chapter on education for a book edited by Ayers.
She is, like Ayers, an advocate of what is known as "social justice" teaching. She is, like Ayers, an admirer of authoritarian regimes like that of Singapore, one of her favorite examples of allegedly improved approaches to education despite the rigid control of the population there by the state.
She is, like Ayers, a strong supporter of a proposal to mandate that whites repay "people of color" the billions of dollars of "education debt" that has allegedly accumulated after centuries of racism, oppression, and slavery. In other words, reparations.
She published a blue print for the radical Forum on Education and Democracy that argued that repayment of that "education debt" must be the top priority of the next President of the United States.[...]
Of course, neither "social justice" teaching nor "education debt" have anything to do with improving student outcomes in America's schools. They are, at best, a platform for advocating the radical authoritarian politics of people like Ayers, Darling-Hammond and Klonsky.[...]
Successful snake oil salesmen have to be able to do this when their actual product is not palatable to the public or useful for stated purposes.