Something odd is going on. The Obama campaign boasts of a landslide in the making even as his polling lead slips a point or two, and there’s anger bordering on rage when John McCain and Sarah Palin raise questions about Barack Obama‘s judgment in his unexplored past in Chicago.
An investigation of ACORN, a cabal of “political activists” hired to register voters in the neighborhoods where few friends of John McCain abide has now spread to 10 states. Investigators discovered that the entire offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys had signed up to vote in Las Vegas, unless it turns out that someone forged their signatures to make a quota. The rules for this game were written in Chicago.
The senator’s campaign only wants to talk about the economy, and who can blame him? Wall Street is tanking to uncharted depths, banking is at a standstill and fear stalks Main Street and all the avenues and boulevards running across it. But Sen. Obama wants certain questions about the economy, and how it got this way, declared off-limits. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, declares questions about Franklin Raines, his stewardship of Fannie Mae and his relationship with the senator to be racist because both men “are African-American.”
Sen. Obama, who has tried to avoid questions about his associations with shady Chicago figures, was asked again Thursday, this time by a television talking head, about William Ayers, the ‘60s terrorist and bomb-thrower with whom Republicans say he “palled around.”
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“Why don’t we just clear that up right now,” he told ABC News, and then repeated the bloviating response he gave last summer when the Ayers connection was first raised in Internet buzz.
“This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old. By the time I met him, 10 or 15 years ago, he was a college professor of education at the University of Illinois … and the notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that … I’ve ‘palled around with a terrorist,’ all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points.”
This “explanation” hardly clears up anything, or addresses the questions raised first by Sarah Palin and now by John McCain.
Nobody has accused little 8-year-old Barack of anything, not even of tiny misdemeanors in the nursery, of wetting his bed or not eating all his carrots and broccoli. No one has accused the grown-up Barack of taking lessons in bomb-making or plotting with Mr. Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, to make one more attempt to blow up the Capitol and the Pentagon and everybody in it.
The senator has never explained why, at the age of 33, or 38, or however old he was when he did, in fact, “pal around” with Bill Ayers, he inevitably preferred to walk in the shadows on the shady side of the street. He even served with Bill Ayers on the board of a charity that dispensed millions of dollars to left-wing Chicago enterprises.
The unanswered questions are not about crimes, but about his judgment. Just as Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn have never repented for terrorism against their country, the senator has never expressed repentance for his association with them.
After all this time we still don’t know a lot about Sen. Obama’s murky Chicago past, and maybe we won’t until he’s in the White House for a while and the mainstream media looks to actual reporting for its orgasmic thrills.
But we do know that he has a history of choosing odd friends, such as Tony Rezko, whose sentencing for racketeering was postponed this week, suggesting that Tony the Squeezer is squealing to the feds in pursuit of a lighter sentence. Maybe the squealing will tell us something else about the Obama past. Or maybe not. The senator’s reticence encourages speculation, some of it perhaps unfair.
But why did it take him 20 years to discover that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his beloved pastor in Chicago, is a racist bigot who doesn’t like white folks very much and who prayed for God to “damn America.”
We’ve all dozed off through a dull sermon, but Sen. Obama wants us to believe he either played Sunday morning hooky or slept through every offensive sermon for two decades, never once hearing what everybody else in the congregation heard.
If there really is an Obama landslide in the making, why the ferocious attempts to stifle these perfectly legitimate questions?
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Times.