Gail Collins FTW:
The McCain folks have been obsessed with William Ayers, a neighbor of Obama’s who is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Back in the 1960s, Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, were leaders of the Weather Underground, an antiwar group whose penchant for violence was exceeded only by its haplessness. Ayers has since become an education expert and was named Chicago’s Citizen of the Year in 1997. He gave Obama a house party when Obama was running for the State Senate.
In my experience, most State Senate hopefuls are so thrilled at any sign of interest that they would happily attend a reception given by a homeless couple in their cardboard box. But even though Obama was 8 years old at the time the Weathermen were in the news, that house party puts all their misdeeds on his platter. Sarah Palin has been telling her increasingly scary rallies that he is somebody “who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists.”
Before we go any further, I have a confession to make. When I was a college student, I believe I attended a party with Bernardine Dohrn. This was pre-Weather, when Dohrn was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society, better known as S.D.S. Some of my friends wanted to meet her because they were interested in establishing an S.D.S. chapter at our campus. I was opposed, under the presumption that S.D.S. meant Students for Decent Styles, a group that had been active in fighting spaghetti-strap dresses at my high school.
Still, under the new rules, I believe I may now be held partly responsible for all of Dohrn’s misdeeds, including aggravated battery, bail jumping, the Days of Rage and unreadable political tracts.
McCain’s favorite supporter, Senator Joseph Lieberman, recently called the Obama-Ayers connection “fair game.” This reminded me that Lieberman once came to a party at my house. It was years ago, when he was still a Connecticut state senator, and we have already established that state senators will go to anything. Still, I can’t help but feel that I am not only a potential victim of the new guilt-by-association standard, I am also somewhat complicit in establishing it.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.