The Obama/Ayers relationship: And American spectator conspiracy squeamishness
On September 2nd, American Spectator ran this feature article on the Obama/Ayers relationship. At the time of this writing it was up to 601 comments so clearly this relationship is of interest to many. First of all, I don’t really like these sorts of guilt by association articles. Yes, Ayers has done some bad things in his life. Yes, he associated with some bad people. And yes, he probably got off with less punishment than he otherwise would have because his family is politically connected. But I don’t like this guilt by association stuff because it comes off like a right-wing version of a SPLC smear. According to SPLC style reasoning, Conservative Candidate X somehow associated with some know wrongthinker, therefore he is evil. The sleaziness of this “logic” is obvious, so we shouldn’t copy it. The fact that Obama was closer to Ayers than he let on does not mean he supports bombing the Pentagon.
If an outside the mainstream conservative is active in outside the mainstream conservative circles, he will almost invariably come in contact with people whose views he does not share and would not want associated with him. Likewise, anyone running in certain leftist circles in Chicago was bound to run into Ayers, not to mention the fact that he lived in the same neighborhood as Obama. It seems to me that one effect of this sort of guilt by association is to drive potential future candidates into the mainstream where they aren’t as likely to run into “unsavory” wrongthinkers that some wag is later going to throw up in their face. Is this something serious conservatives want to encourage? Does it serve our interests to copy and hence validate SPLC style reasoning?
What is important about the closer than reported Ayers/Obama relationship is not to imply that Obama condones violent activism. (He might have at one time, but that isn’t established simply by the fact that he knew Ayers better than he let on.) What is important is that his association with Ayers places him in circles that are likely farther left by degree than if he was hanging out with Mayor Daley for example. It also illustrates that he lied about the extent of that relationship.
It also strikes me that this sort of guilt by association (left and right) encourages people to be uncivil for the sake of protecting themselves. Is it not possible to have relationships and friendships with people with whom you disagree? Had Obama met Ayers at a Chicago cocktail party was he supposed to run the other way in order to protect his future political viability? What should matter is what Obama or Conservative Candidate X say they believe and what their records suggest they believe, not that they scrupulously avoided any association that might later be held against them.
All that said, the most striking thing about this article is what it does not mention about the Ayers/Obama relationship. It is a long, well documented article, but it fails to mention even in passing the explosive allegation that Ayers might have ghost-written Obama’s memoir. Surely Regnery was aware of this allegation. It would be impossible to research a long article like this and not be. So that suggests that the ghost-writing allegation was intentionally not mentioned. Why? Was the evidence examined and found wanting? (If that is the case, why not say that since the allegation is already out there and well known?) Or was it not mentioned so as to avoid any association with anything that might be considered conspiratorial? (For whatever reason, while the ghost-writing allegation is a separate issue and only ancillary related to the whole “birther” thing, it has nevertheless been largely subsumed under the “birther” umbrella.) I strongly suspect the later.
American Spectator gained prominence in the Clinton era as the primary outlet for the explosive Troopergate story, so AmSpec may retain a residual reputation as a magazine willing to broach the conspiratorial (It seems to based on a few of the comments.), but as far as I know since the Troopergate backlash AmSpec seems to have actually been reluctant to tackle the conspiratorial.
While I realize that individual blog posts and articles don’t necessarily reflect the editorial beliefs of the magazine, I can’t recall any posts or articles that were sympathetic to those who have doubts about, in one way or another, the Obama narrative, and I do recall some that were not sympathetic. Did AmSpec commision a forensic evaluation of the long form birth certificate upon its released? Has AmSpec addressed the Connecticut Social Security number issue? Have they addressed the fishy draft registration card? Have they addressed the authorship issues? I will be happy to stand corrected if I am wrong, but as far as I know they haven’t. And all these issues could be addressed without embracing “born in Kenya” orthodox birtherism. All these issue could be addressed as simple curiosity about a narrative that is clouded in mystery and secrecy, hardly something that would allow any fair-minded person to brand them as a conspiratorial rag.
Far from being a magazine that conspiracy mongers, I sense in the post-Troopergate AmSpec a magazine that actually scrupulously attempts to avoid the taint of conspiracy. How else do you explain a four page article on the Obama/Ayers relationship that doesn’t even mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the ghost-writing allegation?
We already have a deliberately incurious mainstream media that looks the other way and actively covers for Obama. A primary role for “respectable” right-wing journalism ought to be to examine objectively those things the mainstream media is intentionally overlooking, not serve as fellow guardians of acceptable opinion.
One problem with the whole birther debate from the beginning is that it has been almost entirely hashed out by partisans on either side, a protective deliberately incurious look the other way mainstream media along with left-wing Obama hacks vs. convinced birthers in the “outside the mainstream” right-wing blogosphere. This is not a dynamic that favors getting to the truth. If AmSpec could get over their apparent conspiracy squeamishness then maybe they could play the role of objective seekers of truth that should normally be played by the “regular” press if we had a functioning one which we don’t. A good place to start would be examining the Dreams from My Father authorship controversy. Maybe that could be part two of the Regnery Ayers/Obama relationship expose.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”