- The Washington Times - Friday, April 18, 2008

The presidential primary campaign of aught-eight died yesterday of wounds inflicted the previous night. The family requests no flowers, and suggests sending memorial contributions instead to the candidate of your choice, if you have one. The viewing and visitation will be held on YouTube.com, but there won’t be anything to eat, not even food for thought.

This primary campaign has been on life support for weeks, and ABC News pulled the plug at 9:42 Wednesday night. Shortly afterward the campaign — unloved, disrespected and having stayed only too long — slipped away more or less peacefully. Embalmers were called immediately in the event that global warming strikes suddenly.

The obsequies began at once. With a voice dripping with sarcasm, Barack Obama offered a eulogy yesterday from Raleigh, N.C. “I will tell you [the campaign] does not get more fun than these debates,” he said. “They are inspiring debates. I think last night we set a new record [note to the wordsmith: all records are new when set] because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters most to the American people. It took us 45 minutes — 45 minutes before we [were allowed to regurgitate what we’ve been saying for months] about health care, 45 minutes before we [got to repeat everything we’ve been saying for months] about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard [a reprise of the tedious argle-bargle] about jobs, 45 minutes before we [got to harangue everybody for the 12th time] about [how we can’t do anything about] the price of gasoline.”

The morticians of ABC News were naturally pleased with themselves. “The questions were tough and fair and appropriate and relevant,” George Stephanopoulos said of his performance as interlocutor. So the first question was about prospective running mates, which everybody has been talking about for months and which everybody knows won’t be answered until August.

Sen. Obama was briefly put on the spot with a question about still another of his shady friends in Chicago, but he was allowed to dance away without the obvious follow-up. What was the extent of his friendship with Bill Ayers, an ex-con and unrepentant member of a ring of cop-killers from the ‘60s? This could have been a fastball but was only a floater, and the Illinois Kid sent it back sharply for a Texas Leaguer. “The notion that somehow, as a consequence of me knowing someone in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, that somehow that reflects on my values, is crazy.”

But that’s not quite the point of the question. The senator knew that Bill Ayers was more than “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood” and was once a member of the Weathermen when they served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a small but radical Chicago foundation of suspicious provenance. At the behest of the unrepentant Bill Ayers — who boasts that he and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, who both served time after years on the run, didn’t do enough to plant bombs to kill innocents when they had the chance — the foundation awarded $6,000 to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church “in recognition of Barack Obama’s contributions.” Messrs. Obama and Ayers voted to award a generous grant to the Arab-American Action Network, to finance “actions” (not otherwise specified).

This was all very innocent in Mr. Obama’s telling of his association with Bill Ayers, much like his association with the Rev. Mr. Wright. Serendipity follows Barack Obama everywhere. The senator was never there when Mr. Wright was riding off on one of his racist rants. He overslept that morning, even missed Sunday school, or dozed through the sermon, or was daydreaming, or preoccupied with trying to scratch an itch unobserved by others in his pew, or something. It’s always something.

The more we learn about Barack Obama the more interesting he becomes, as Hillary often hints but knows better than to be specific. The skeletons will march out of the closet later, long after the corpse of the primary campaign is laid to rest and Hillary is relegated to the mourners’ chorus. She answered “yes, yes, yes” when an interlocutor asked whether she thought Barack Obama could win in November. But her eyes and her demeanor said “no, no, no.” Not if she can help it.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Times.

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