Tuesday, October 22

Obama’s past may be a valid cause for voters’ concern


Who is Barack Obama? Is he, as he fancies himself, a messiah of post-racial politics who loves his country and wants to part the seas of ideological gridlock in Washington? If a man’s past provides any insight into his character, I think it’s unlikely.

The Obama before this election cycle had associations that should nullify his bid for the presidency.

We all remember the Rev. Jeremiah Wright from Trinity United Church of Christ, whose acid rhetoric left a bad taste in the mouth of every American who heard him speak. In his famous race speech, Obama insisted that Wright’s sentiments were not his own, that they “denigrated both the greatness and the goodness of our nation” and offered “a profoundly distorted view of this country.” In total, he couldn’t believe that this man who he knew for 20 years, who he trusted implicitly and counted as his spiritual mentor, could have been so wrong and how he never had occasion to see it.

But as we delve into Obama’s past, we find more than a few examples of people who pushed the same kind of message that he claims to abhor, that he vigorously denounced in his definitive speech. We find William Ayers, the radical who admitted to bombing the Pentagon and the capital in the ’70s and crudely lamented in 2001, “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Obama dismissed Ayers as just “a guy that lived in my neighborhood.” But records from the University of Illinois show that in the mid-’90s, Obama and Ayers worked together on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) to allocate over $100 million that Ayers received in grant money from the CAC. The grants, while supposedly being used to promote education at public schools (those were the pretenses under which Ayers got the money), were siphoned to “external partner” groups like the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now. As chairman of the board, Obama would have had to know what was going on.

Mr. Ayers’ educational initiatives were inspired by his own radical ideas. Among other things, he called for “a fairer distribution of material and human resources” for people blighted by an “oppressive hegemony” (That’s code for income redistribution.) and encouraged children to develop “social consciousness” in what Ayers considers an unjust and racist society. Ayers has written that he looks to teachers “capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation” in order to achieve these goals.

It was Obama’s job as chairman to see that Ayers’ platforms were carried out. Do you wonder how he would reform education in this country? Look no further than the programs he pushed for Ayers. (As a side note, there was no discernible improvement in standardized test scores when Obama was running the operation.)

But while Obama was working with Ayers, he was also consorting with a host of other shady entities. His extensive ties to two organizations ““ the Gamaliel Foundation and ACORN ““ are particularly distressing. Gamaliel is a coalition of “community organizers” that peddles the same kind of rhetoric as Ayers and the good Rev. Wright. In the words of one of its premier members, the organization tries to suppress “the warfare against the poor and … heal the divisions of class and race that separate this sick society.” Since working as a consultant and trainer for the organization, Obama has stayed closely connected to Gamaliel and its co-founder, supporting their efforts in the Senate.

But his connections to ACORN are even more significant. In his community organizing days, Obama helped train future leaders in the organization, a nicety they reciprocated by assisting his bids for the state Senate and Congress in 1996 and 2000, respectively. Obama proceeded to represent the organization legally, and when he was installed as a state senator, he introduced legislation on the “living wage” and other pet issues of ACORN. ACORN has endorsed Obama’s presidential candidacy, and he has accepted that endorsement with pleasure.

As of this writing, ACORN, which calls itself a bipartisan “community advocacy” group, is the subject of 12 investigations alleging rampant voter registration fraud. The Obama campaign gave $800,000 to an offshoot of the group to register voters during the primary season. If the allegations are true (and ACORN is perennially indicted for fraud), Obama will have to defend his judgment yet again.

It is now clear that Wright offered a vivid window into Obama’s life before he decided to run for national office. Flipping through Obama’s 1995 memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” we find his own account of that former life. Rather than discovering a transcendent, post-racial figure, we find a man who is preternaturally obsessed with race, a man frantically insecure in America. Obama recollects uncomfortably living in the “racial caste system” of America alongside white people, “that ghostly figure that haunted black dreams.” He clearly didn’t have a sunny view of America then, nor did he believe we were exceptional in any way.

As a man of mixed ancestry, Obama used Wright, Ayers, Gamaliel and ACORN to acculturate himself in the black community, which paved the way for his illustrious (not!) career as a “community organizer” and then as the crowned head of the socialist wing of the Democratic Party.

Obama rejects the probe into his past as a classic example of “guilt by association.”

But the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time defense won’t stick forever, given that all we have found out about his early days in Chicago is suggestive of a man who was practically raised by radicals ““ Wright, Ayers, Gamaliel, ACORN, and, oh yeah, Tony Rezko, Obama’s chief financial backer in Chicago who is now on his way to prison on corruption charges.

I don’t resent John McCain ““ or maybe I do ““ for not expounding on these issues given the financial climate, which has negatively affected McCain’s campaign. But it’s painfully disquieting to consider that a man who collaborated with a domestic terrorist to radicalize children could conceptualize our education policy, or what’s more, that he could run our justice department.

If you think Obama is a master of disguise, then e-mail Pherson at [email protected] Send general comments to [email protected]

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