The Obama-Ayers Education Story

Today’s must-read: after months of investigation, in which he had to weather all manner of stonewalling and intimidation by the Obama camp, Stanley Kurtz finally has the story, in today’s Wall Street Journal, of Barack Obama’s involvement in unrepentant former terrorist Bill Ayers’ project to spread left-wing politics under the guise of ‘education’ in Chicago schools. Here’s a flavor of Ayers’ project:

CAC translated Mr. Ayers’s radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with “external partners,” which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).
Mr. Obama once conducted “leadership training” seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama’s early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC’s in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.
CAC also funded programs designed to promote “leadership” among parents. Ostensibly this was to enable parents to advocate on behalf of their children’s education. In practice, it meant funding Mr. Obama’s alma mater, the Developing Communities Project, to recruit parents to its overall political agenda. CAC records show that board member Arnold Weber was concerned that parents “organized” by community groups might be viewed by school principals “as a political threat.” Mr. Obama arranged meetings with the Collaborative to smooth out Mr. Weber’s objections.

And of Obama’s involvement in the activities of a group whose board he chaired:

Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit….Mr. Ayers sat as an ex-officio member of the board Mr. Obama chaired through CAC’s first year. He also served on the board’s governance committee with Mr. Obama, and worked with him to craft CAC bylaws. Mr. Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Mr. Obama. Mr. Ayers spoke for the Collaborative before the board. Likewise, Mr. Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the Collaborative.

Kurtz’s conclusion:

The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming “guilt by association.” Yet the issue here isn’t guilt by association; it’s guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle.

Kurtz makes some references in the article to the Obama camp’s pushback, and discusses it (including reprinting the Obama campaign’s full response) here, including completing the connection of the dots in Obama’s involvement in setting up and funding Ayers’ activities:

In the first year, 1995, Obama headed the board, which made fiscal decisions, and Ayers co-chaired the Collaborative, which set education policy. During that first year, Obama’s formal responsibilities mandated close cooperation and coordination with the Collaborative. As board chair and president of the CAC corporation, Obama was authorized to “delegate to the Collaborative the development of collaborative projects and programs . . . to obtain assistance of the Collaborative in the development of requests for proposals . . . and to seek advice from the Collaborative regarding the programmatic aspects of grant proposals.” All this clearly involves significant consultation between the board, headed by Obama, and the Collaborative, co-chaired by Ayers.

Bear in mind the timeline – this is precisely the time at which Obama was launching his political career (including a meeting at Ayers’ home), signing a contract to support the platform of the Marxist New Party, representing ACORN as its lawyer, and receiving the support and active participation, in return, of ACORN and similar of left-wing groups as ground troops in his campaigns. Tom Maguire looks at how far back Obama’s relationship with Ayers goes. I continue to be amazed that any civilized person could associate with this terrorist, much less allocate money to give him a role in educating children. But then, recall the words of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, writing in 2000:

Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.

And of course, besides funding Ayers, Obama once in office was essentially letting groups like Planned Parenthood essentially write sex education bills – not a group as overtly outside the mainstream as Ayers, but consistent with Obama’s overall Illinois record as a hard-core left-wing culture warrior looking to empower the whole menagerie of left-wing interest groups (headed by other “community organizers” just like Obama himself) with funding and sway over government. Kurtz, who has followed similar stories for years, explains how all of this is symptomatic of the broader left-wing cultural and educational program:

[T]he story of modern philanthropy is largely the story of moderate and conservative donors finding their funds “captured” by far more liberal, often radical, beneficiaries. CAC’s story is a classic of the genre. Ayers and Obama guided CAC money to community organizers, like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) and the Developing Communities Project (Part of the Gamaliel Foundation network), groups self-consciously working in the radical tradition of Saul Alinsky….

Of course, you don’t go to a group like the Annenberg Challenge with an explicit promise to promote left-wing radicalism, and you don’t pick Bill Ayers as the front man to deal with the donors. You pick someone smoother, less of a known commodity…you pick Barack Obama. In 1995, it was Obama’s job to put a pleasant, respectable face on a fundamentally left-wing project.
Not much has changed since then, has it?

24 thoughts on “The Obama-Ayers Education Story”

  1. I know a lot of people may feel that trying to make Obama accountable for Ayers’ 60’s activities is dirty pool, and McCain certainly ought to stay away from doing that personally. But I really think what that article had to say about what Obama sees as the proper role of public schools is both more relevant and more damaging.

  2. The Marxist New Party, eh? Isn’t that nice? They sound so sweet, like Stalin in a party hat. Where did the Democrats find this tool? How are you going to sell America on the Marxist New Party? Cute hats?
    Of course, Crank and the rest of us would never vote for a Democrat and that’s where all this cirticism comes from. Why, if only we could be fair to Ogulag, why, this stuff would just go away, right? And we’d have a young Paul Robeson in the White House so we could all feel good about ourselves. Too frickin’ funny.

  3. Jerry,
    It isn’t the bombs of the seventies. It’s that Ayers is still proud of the bombs, continues to hate America and stills works for revolution against America. It’s that Obama joined Ayers’ efforts to foment revolution knowing who Ayers is (and was) and what Ayers’ goals are.
    No one holds Obama accountable for what Ayers did. They want to hold Obama accountable for what Obama did — in embracing Ayers and Dohrn and Acorn and the marxists and the Chicago mob. He embraced their assistance, their goals and their methods.

  4. I think the effect of this on the election will be minimal. Election will be decided by the apolitical undecideds. This takes longer than 30 secs to explain so it won’t resonate with them.

  5. feeble,
    A video featuring “g-d damn america” and the photos that Ayers posed for where he wipes his feet on the American flag will be very easy to explain in less than 30 seconds.

  6. Of course this isn’t mentioned in the liberally-biased MSM (LOL-that joke never gets old), they’ve been too busy talking about the Keating 5 morning, noon, and night for the past 2 years. (or not).

  7. Perspective, please. The McCain campaign is having Henry Kissinger tutor Palin on foreign policy. Kissinger is a terrorist by any definition. Do you object to Palin’s association with Kissinger?

  8. Kissinger is a terrorist by any definition.
    Have fun with that argument.
    Berto – How many profiles of McCain have you read? I’ve seen plenty over the years that retell the Keating story. It’s well-recognized as the reason why he essentially became a born-again crusader for reform in the two decades since. It’s certainly no secret.

  9. Crank,
    Your lurkers from the left serve as great reminders that the left have a very tenuous relationship with facts and logic. If the MSM is to the right of Berto, he must think ANSWER is a GOP front.

  10. By any definition of the word “terrorist”, that’s Kissinger. Terrorists are not just people on the left, or foreigners. If you can’t swallow this logic, it’s because our society refuses to recognize that members of the US government can commit unjustified political violence just as badly as foreign leaders. In a just society, McCain would never get away with hanging around Kissinger. Instead, you obsess over relative peons like Ayers.

  11. Steve,
    I doubt you’ll be able to understand this, but once you declare that Henry Kissinger is a terrorist you lose any semblance of credibility. You may have valid points to make, but no one will take you seriously after those comments.

  12. Are we back this Ayers stuff again? Is there anything contained in Obama’s -current- policy proposals would make anyone think that he is a Marxist radical? He’s not even proposing universal health care, so what -strong- evidence is there that he wants to create European-style democratic socialism?
    The better interpretation, at this point, is that he co-opted the left and used their “get out the vote” skills to get into office. You raised the connection, which is fine, but that only goes so far.
    But the Kissinger comment is way beyond the pale. Give me a break. Come on, Steve. That’s nearly as ridiculous as claiming that the US really didn’t land on the moon.

  13. Beyond the pale? Kissenger caused more deaths in pursuit of an unlawful foreign policy than any other American alive today. Why is he being hailed as a foreign policy expert? Who would want to associate with him? Would you?

  14. MVH – I prefer to judge politicians on their records at least as much as their promises. Obama’s record is terribly thin, of course, so we look where we may for clues.
    That said, just to pick one example, his Philadelphia debate answer to Charlie Gibson’s capital gains tax question was hugely revealing – Obama admitted that he’d still support hiking the capital gains tax even if it didn’t bring in any more revenue, to pursue his overriding goal of “fairness.” That’s a tell.

  15. I read the full context of that “fairness” comment, which I found here:
    “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year — $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.” . . .
    MR. GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.
    SENATOR OBAMA: Well, that might happen or it might not. It depends on what’s happening on Wall Street and how business is going.” . . .
    I don’t see that as very strong evidence. Apparently, he does not buy the idea that increasing capital gains will always lead to less revenue. Whether he is right or wrong, that doesn’t make him a Marxist or a Euorpean-style democratic socialist, and it is not the strong evidence that I would convince me, anyway.
    I’m not against looking at Obama’s record, but given the contrast between marxism/socialism and Obama’s policy proposals, you’re going to have to come up with something a little more concrete. So far, he’s chaired a committee and supported some parental-involvement-in-education scheme that was perceived by some as politically-driven. I may have oversimplified that a bit, but are you really trying to convince me that that it is a socialist/marxist smoking gun?
    It may show more involvement than perhaps some left-wing bloggers claim, but it doesn’t seem to show any more than that. Now if you had some evidence of a speech or a document where Obama advocated for some of the more radical elements of that marxist platform, then I’d be all ears.

  16. MVH, Obama was quoted in a CNBC interview advocating a raise in the Capital gains rate even if it dropped revenues. They referenced that CNBC interview at the debate. And he continues here advocating raising rates not to grow revenue, but for “fairness”. That’s not Marxism?
    We know so little about this guy, but what we do know speaks to a history of extreme Leftism. That’s exactly why some here will always support the guy even though his resume’ is lacking in so many ways.
    I think American voters would be more interested in Obama’s Marxist background than Palin’s dismissal of a bureaucrat serving at her pleasure. Shall we compare coverage of the two issues?

  17. “Why is he being hailed as a foreign policy expert?”
    You are digging yourself an even bigger hole. I promise this will be my last comment on this Kissenger stuff because it really has nothing to do with this thread, but this comment is even crazier than the terrorist comment.
    Speaking as someone who was a graduate student in international relations, I can tell you that Kissenger is studied and widely respected as a foreign policy expert by just about everyone in the field on both sides of the political aisle. George Kennan, the 1950’s architect of US containment policy regarded Kissenger as “the only man who understood me.” Regardless of whether you agree with Kissenger’s policies, there is absolutely -no debate- as to his credentials and no serious commentator would even suggest that he is a “terrorist.” He is worth reading whenever he comments on foreign affairs.
    I think this is the craziest line of argument I’ve seen on this site.

  18. I think its preposterous to label Obama a Marxist. It’s like calling conservatives “authoritarian” or “fascist.” You can tell someone is a movement conservative when they try to claim that liberals are marxists. Anyone reading this blog who is not a movement conservative will understand what I am saying.

  19. MVH: if Ayers claims to be an education expert and therefore Obama gets his advice on those matters, yet Ayers also participated in terrorist activity, then the right wing will focus on the terrorist activity. But when Kissinger, who no doubt knows quite a bit about the world, is consulted by Republicans, no one cases about the many, many thousands of people who died as a result of his policies. If the GOP is riding Obama hard for associating with someone like Ayers, why aren’t we talking about Kissinger’s relationship with Republicans? The answer is that we do not associate terrorists with “our” side. Terrorism is something that the other guys do.

  20. Steve – I don’t think Obama’s a Marxist. I do think the New Party was a Marxist or at least quasi-Marxist party, and it concerns me that Obama signed a contract to support their platform.

  21. Sponge:
    “I think American voters would be more interested in Obama’s Marxist background than Palin’s dismissal of a bureaucrat serving at her pleasure. Shall we compare coverage of the two issues?”
    You are preaching to the choir on this point. A large percentage of what the media reports on politics is a waste of time. And the media, as a whole, has only a superficial knowledge of economics and taxes.
    “Anyone reading this blog who is not a movement conservative will understand what I am saying.”
    I’m not a movement conservative, and I don’t understand what you are saying. It is not “preposterous” to label Obama as a Marxist because he signed that contract adhering to that group’s platform. That by itself makes the issue worth looking into. My position, so far, is that he coopted that party, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

  22. Steve:
    “If Ayers claims to be an education expert and therefore Obama gets his advice on those matters, yet Ayers also participated in terrorist activity, then the right wing will focus on the terrorist activity.”
    The problem with your analogy is that just about anyone would consider Ayers a terrorist, and just about no one would consider Kissenger a terrorist. Also, Crank’s post wasn’t criticizing Obama’s education policy, he was criticizing his involvement with the Marxist group. I understand his point, I just don’t find it all that damning.
    Sponge: I’ll have to check out what he said on CNBC

  23. MVH: you write, “just about no one would consider Kissenger a terrorist.” That is because, as I wrote earlier, the other side commits terrorism, not Americans. But any definition of terrorism would include someone like Kissinger.

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