Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dreams From William Ayers

Anne Leary dropped a bombshell on the night of Monday, October 5, and she gets my vote for Woman of the Month for it. The bombshell: William Ayers told her, face to face, that he wrote Barack Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father.” Anne deserves huge congratulations for her recent post, in which she wrote about her encounter with Ayers at Reagan National Airport in D.C. on Monday morning, October 5. During their conversation, Anne wrote, Ayers told her that he was actually the author of "Dreams From My Father." Barack Obama claims to have written it, and his name is on the cover as the author. (We assume that the royalty checks are payable to “Barack H. Obama.”) Anne Who? Anne Leary’s "Backyard Conservative" blog has long been a highly respected component of Chicago’s blogosphere, with national reach and influence. Today, she and her post about Ayers are being discussed on talk radio and television, not to mention burning up the Internet. Anne’s Ayers story rapidly went viral by sunrise on Tuesday, October 5. I was one of the first two blogger to link to it, and I immediately Twittered it after Anne sent me an e-mail alert Monday night. As with any story, however, this one has its disbelievers, skeptics and scoffers. William Who? William Ayers, 64, was a member of the radical Weather Underground, a violent offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960s and 1970s. The “Weathermen,” as member were called, bombed the Pentagon, the US Capitol building and other targets. The FBI chased Ayers for a decade but never actually caught him. He is currently an employee of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Michael Barone of US News & World Report gives us a good, concise background of the Ayers-Obama axis: Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was cochairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama's state Senate campaign was held in Ayers's apartment. Ayers later wrote a memoir, and an article about him appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001. "I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers is quoted as saying. "I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers still doesn’t regret setting off bombs, and he is proud of his terrorist resume. Did I mention that he’s an employee of the University of Illinois at Chicago? Oh yes, I did, but Barone has more about that: When [Ayers] came out of hiding because the federal government was unable to prosecute him (because of government misconduct), he got a degree in education from Columbia and then moved to Chicago and got a job on the education faculty of the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle. How did he get that job? Well, it can't have hurt that his father, Thomas Ayers, was chairman of Commonwealth Edison (now Exelon) and a charter member of the Chicago establishment. As Mayor Richard M. Daley said recently, in arguing that the Ayers association should not be held against Obama, "His father was a great friend of my father." Dreams From My Terrorist Buddy Perhaps all those fatherly connections is what prompted Obama’s former colleague to pen a book titled “Dreams From My Father.” Which brings us back around to Ayers telling Anne Leary that he wrote “Dreams From My Father” and her post about it. Barack Obama has long said that Ayers was just a casual acquaintance who happened to live in his Chicago neighborhood. Many have speculated that Obama-Ayers relationship is much closer than either have publicly admitted. But admit it, Ayers did, in the Reagan National Airport terminal to Anne Leary. Thanks to Anne’s reporting, we now know that the Ayers-Obama friendship was more than casual - probably. I say “probably” because it is possible that Ayers lied to Anne Leary at Reagan National. Regardless, this is a huge story. I absolutely believe Anne's account of the conversation. I've known Anne for nearly three years, and she's always been honest and upstanding. The only doubt one should have about her story is whether Ayers was being honest, not Anne. If Anne Leary says that William Ayers told her that he wrote Barack Obama’s book, then I believe he said it. Whether Ayers was being honest or not does not change the fact that he said it. There's more to that: Perhaps, as some of the disbelievers, skeptics and scoffers are saying, Ayers was just trying to pull one over on a conservative blogger. She notes in her post that she did tell him that she writes a conservative blog. A Million Little Pieces of Hope If Ayers was telling the truth, then Barack Obama is guilty of literary fraud by falsely claiming to have written "Dreams From My Father." On the other hand, if Ayers lied to Anne Leary, then Ayers is guilty of - and I'm serious here - defaming author Barack Obama, his publishing company, and his book's publicists by saying that they misrepresented the true authorship of the book, and therefore the book was not truly autobiographical. Then there the “Million Little Pieces” factor. That book’s author, James Frey, passed his book off as a non-fiction account of his life as an alcoholic and drug addict. He brought Oprah Winfrey to tears, whiched helped Frey to sell more than three million copies of his book. Trouble was, most of what Frey wrote was completely fabricated. The book was a big lie. In the case of “Dreams From My Father,” the same kind of deception comes into play if Ayers actually penned it. After all, the book is supposed to be by Obama and - in part - about his father’s influence on him. Last time I checked, Ayers and Obama had different fathers. If Ayer’s claim is true that Michelle Obama asked him to write the book, and if he did, then it resulted in an act of public deception no more or less dishonest than that committed by James Frey. So which is it? Did Ayers write the book? Or is he defaming the Obamas? If Ayers did not write the book - that is, if he lied to Anne Leary - then Obama has another old friend to throw under the bus. Footnote: I've communicated hundreds of times by e-mail and phone with Anne Leary. She has never lied, never bragged, and has always been humble. She sent an e-mail alert to me and to mutual good friend John Ruberry of "Marathon Pundit" at 11:09 p.m. on Monday night. It was short and sweet: From: Anne Leary Subject: Ran into Bill Ayers at the airport. We had a chat To: "John Ruberry", "Tom Mannis" Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 11:09 PM I immediately followed the link to her post. My jaw dropped the moment I saw the photo of Ayers in the airport terminal. After picking up my jaw, I began to write my own post about Anne’s post, not much more than a blurb about Anne's encounter and a link to her story. John beat me with his version by about 30 minutes, but I managed to post a link to Anne's post about an hour after she e-mailed the heads-up. Shortly after John and I posted about Anne’s post, she updated hers with this: UPDATE: My friend John Ruberry, Marathon Pundit links with remarks. Chicago News Bench links as well. If I ever write a book (of my own), I will love Tom Mannis to do a blurb for the jacket. Anne, hurry up and write that book. I would be honored do that jacket blurb for you. RELATED: Backyard Conservative's encounter with Ayers--and his claim he wrote "Dreams," catches fire Video: Obama: Dreams From My Bomber a Story of Disgrace and Deception Conservative Caps, Shirt and more! - Follow CNB on Twitter! Leave a Comment - Chicago News Bench RSS Feed