My friend Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger says that I (together with some other conservatives) am going “bonkers – just bonkers” over the William Ayers issue. As evidence of my “bonkers” mentality, he links to this post of mine, in which I document ways that the Los Angeles Times omitted evidence that Obama and his campaign have given misleading answers about his relationship with Ayers.
Marc’s argument is that the Ayers issue is not a winning argument for McCain, so we Republican bloggers should leave it alone. I agree with aspects of his argument and disagree with others.
On one hand, I certainly agree with this portion of Marc’s title: “‘The Ayers Argument’ Isn’t An Election-Winner.” I don’t think anyone believes that it is. It’s not McCain’s best argument, and I wish that he would take my advice and hit Obama on Fannie and Freddie every day between now and the election.
But if McCain’s campaign is going to make the Ayers argument, and the media is going to distort the relevant facts, I’m going to point that out. Perhaps that makes me more of a media critic than an amateur campaign strategist, but I can live with that. I think that’s where I can add value.
Amateur campaign strategists are a dime a dozen. Why should anyone really care what I think McCain should do?
By contrast, we media critics, when our arguments are based on documented facts, can add value. We show how the media is distorting the entire electoral process by giving a skewed, distorted, and often just plain false version of the events of the day.
Of course, media criticism means you’re limited to what you read. And if McCain is talking about Ayers, and the L.A. Times is therefore talking about Ayers, then I’m going to end up talking about Ayers. It doesn’t mean I think it’s the best argument McCain can make.
Marc’s advice seems to be that I should ignore media distortions on topics like Ayers that aren’t winning arguments. I couldn’t disagree more.
First, I think that if the media weren’t distorting the facts on Ayers, it could be a decent argument — not the best argument, and not the one McCain should be spending so much time and so many resources on. But a decent argument.
Second, even on losing arguments, I can’t silently sit by and watch the media distort the facts. I’m just not wired that way — and I don’t want to be.
If that makes me “bonkers” in Marc’s eyes, I’ll have to live with that.
P.S. I find a lot of Marc’s post baffling. I know he understands that Ayers wasn’t some random ’60s radical shouting angry slogans about the war. I know this because a) he’s smart and informed, and b) we’ve explicitly talked about it. Yet his post seems to operate on the assumption that Ayers wasn’t anything more than a loudmouthed radical.
Marc prominently displays a picture of himself as a young angry protestor. He says that
branding someone as a “crazy 60’s radical” isn’t itself a very powerful political message. Because lots of people were, and lots of people know them and know they were, and we’re all pretty harmless these days (in fact, we were pretty harmless back then, as well).
That’s not to suggest that Ayers is harmless – he may or may not be (there’s a lot of evidence pointing both ways – on one hand, there’s his Chavez speech, on the other I consider “Hyde Park revolutionaries” to be kind of a narcissistic waste of time as a class, having been one myself). But as a branding exercise, it’s pointless, because it’s not going to have a whole lot of impact on people’s perceptions of Obama.”
Ayers, as Marc knows, was a terrorist. He participated in bombings, and although he’s coy about which specific bombings he helped carry out, his group’s bombs killed people, and his group wanted to kill even more. Ayers wasn’t prosecuted, not because he was proven innocent, but because evidence was suppressed due to governmental wrongdoing (illegal wiretaps and such). Ayers and his wife still talk as though they hate America and are proud of what they did; Ayers famously said in September 2001 that he wished he had done more — and this was during a period of time when Barack Obama was serving with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund.
Obama is not a terrorist. He is not a traitor. It appears likely that he will elected President — and if he is, then to use Marc’s phrase, he will be my President.
But I don’t respect Obama’s association with Bill Ayers, and I don’t respect his dishonesty about the extent of their relationship — and if the media has decided to give him a pass, that doesn’t mean I’m going to. And if people have already made up their minds because the media has not asked the tough questions and reported the awkward truths, I’m not going to simply roll over and let a skewed version of the truth be palmed off on people.
At least, not without a fight.