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Obama – Ayers Chicago Annenberg Challenge [Updated Sept 9 ‘08]

September 3, 2008

During the 2008 Democratic Primary presidential primaries, George Stephanopolous asked Barack Obama to explain his relationship with William (Bill) Ayers.
Obama’s reply.

At the debate, Obama said of Ayers: “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense.”

Obama’s campaign manager David Axelrod put his two cents in a month earlier.

Axelrod told Politico’s Ben Smith in February: “Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. … They’re certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together.”


The Authoritarian Radicals: Obama, Ayers and Annenberg – Global Labor and Politics


As the records of the $160 million dollar six-year long Chicago Annenberg Challenge project are liberated and analyzed in coming weeks, it makes sense to ask just what was the Challenge, or CAC, all about.

(Prior to the release of the official records of the CAC I was able to analyze board minutes, financial records and annual reports of the CAC provided to me by Brown University. I have posted them here for others to review.)

After all, the CAC was the first chance for Barack Obama to take on a serious executive role in a controversial political environment. And the Challenge failed, badly.

Most of the criticism of the longstanding relationship between Bill Ayers, who founded the CAC, and Barack Obama is, unfortunately, coming from the conservative side of the political spectrum. That is natural enough – they want their candidate, John McCain, to win and they know that any association between Ayers and Obama is toxic because of Ayers background as a terrorist.

But silence on this issue from the left is rather puzzling – well, not exactly silence. Critics of the Ayers-Obama alliance whether on the right or, like me, on the left, are actually subject to loud and constant attack.

Of course, those on the attack whether high brows like E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post, or Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic, or the mobs mobilized a la the Sandinistas or Hugo Chavez by the Obama campaign to attack a Chicago radio talk show host and guest, ignore the facts. So as far as advancing the debate is concerned they might as well be silent.

The left, however, should be particularly concerned about what it is that brought Obama and Ayers together in the same movement some 20 years ago, because there is very little about that movement that can be called progressive or democratic. In fact, it was a bureaucratic and potentially authoritarian movement to control the public school system in the city of Chicago against the Chicago Teachers’ Union, the Chicago School Board and the Mayor’s office, in particular, Mayor Daley, in the mid-1990s.


The above is the latest of several in depth articles by Steve Diamond of Global Labor and Politics who has been tirelessly documenting the in’s and out’s of what I can assure you will become a hot button topic (the rumblings are already loud and clear) as the election grows near.

If you would like to learn more please visit the following links.

Inside the Annenberg Challenge Records
Of Daley, Ayers and Sen. Obama
The Obama-Ayers Top Ten List
That “guy who lives in my neighborhood”
Who “sent” Obama?
When did Obama meet Bill Ayers?

Steve Diamond Makes News – JustOneMinute

We noted yesterday that Steve Diamond, who has been leading the charge on the Obama/Ayers/Chicago Annenberg Challenge story, had received documents indicating that Ken Rolling, an Obama associate and former Executive Director of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, had attempted to prevent disclosure of some of the files. […]

H/T Larwyn

Also see:
Mike Klonsky: Obama blogger – Political Wrinkles

Connecting the Dots: The Barack Obama Bill Ayers Connection
Son of Saul Alinsky: “Obama Learned His lesson Well”
Barack Obama Fan Club
Barack Obama’s Network: The Down and Dirty Lowdown
Obama’s Friends in Low Places
Obama: “…there was an explicitly political aspect to the mission and message of Trinity at that time that I found appealing.”

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