Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 1, 2008
POLITICS: Michael Kinsley Does Not Get It
Michael Kinsley thinks that Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn are not really such a big deal except to the extent they inadvertently helped Republicans:
Ayers and Dohrn never posed any real threat to U.S. national security. Their asinine chatter about killing people and their anti-American sloganeering were as ineffective as their bombs. But they did real harm. Their victims were liberals: the millions of people who were part of the mainstream antiwar movement and who later voted against Ronald Reagan...perhaps you can imagine how infuriating it was to the organizers of the big marches on Washington--struggling to keep them peaceful--that there were people of the left effectively in cahoots with the Nixon Administration, determined to undermine all those efforts.
Um, no. Kinsley admits right up front in the article the violent radicalism of the Weather Underground and related organizations and their (and, specifically, Dohrn's) implication in, among other atrocities, the 1981 Brink's armored car robbery at the Nanuet Mall in my hometown, a robbery that killed Nyack Police Officer Waverly Brown, Nyack Police Sergeant Ed O'Grady and Brink's security guard Pete Paige, who collectively left behind three widows and six fatherless children, the youngest six months of age. I can promise you that I would not associate willingly with the likes of Ayers and Dohrn if they were on fire and I was carrying a bucket of water. Nor would most of the people who remember the Brink's case. Kinsley and Obama, perhaps, were still too angry about Nixon and Reagan to care.
The problem with folks like Ayers and Dohrn was not that they made the political lives of liberals difficult. Their real victims were the people killed by their organization. I vividly remember the Brink's robbery; it was the biggest news story ever in Rockland County. When I worked at the Rockland DA's office for a summer they took us to see the evidence, including the super-thick windshield glass from the armored Brink's truck that had a huge hole blown in it by their shotguns and M-16s.
So, maybe Ayers and Dohrn were not actually going to bring the United States to its knees. They did quite enough harm, thank you. Tim McVeigh never posed any real threat to U.S. national security, either. Nor did Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, or the Klu Klux Klan. Would Kinsley be unconcerned about a presidential candidate who counted those associations among his friends? Maybe next he'll just explain it away as a necessary part of politics, like pandering to Marxists.
Kinsley instead suggests that at worst Obama is sorely lacking in....judgment:
If Obama's relationship with Ayers, however tangential, exposes Obama as a radical himself, or at least as a man with terrible judgment, he shares that radicalism or terrible judgment with a comically respectable list of Chicagoans and others--including Republicans and conservatives--who have embraced Ayers and Dohrn as good company, good citizens, even experts on children's issues. Northwestern created a "family justice" center for Dohrn to run. Ayers is a "distinguished professor" at the University of Illinois. They write Op-Eds and are often quoted in the Tribune, where, if they are identified at all beyond their academic titles, it is usually as "activists" who have never abandoned their noble ideals.
Barack Obama: judgment no worse than that of Chicago academics and newspapermen. What an endorsement.
I'll leave you with some people who one would have preferred to associate with, but who don't seem to be the types that run in Barack Obama's circles:
Police Officer Waverly Brown, 45, sipped his coffee while sitting in the diner on Broadway in the village of Nyack, New York on the afternoon of October 20, 1981. Nyack was a small community of 6,000 people situated on the banks of the majestic Hudson River. Officer Brown, known to virtually everyone as "Chipper," was a popular figure in the village, especially to young people, who frequently saw him as a counselor and friend. He was on the job for 13 years and, since the retirement of another African American, Officer Brown was the only black cop on the 22-man force. He served in the United States Air Force after the Korean War and later both his daughters also joined the military. When he finished his 20 years with the police, Chipper planned to retire to Virginia where he owned a house and some land. He was a solid six feet tall, had an easy smile and loved to garden and cook. He finished his coffee, tipped the waitress and walked out to his parked police unit.