6 Degrees Of Terror: Obama, McCain, Ayers & Liddy

David Letterman stirred things up a bit this week when he had Sen. McCain on his show (after McCain recently cancelled on Letterman to talk to Katie Couric instead). Letterman pressed McCain hard for answers and explanations. He challenged McCain and his and Sarah Palin’s ongoing insistence that there is hidden information and suggestions of a hidden agenda in Barack Obama’s fleeting association with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. We all know about these claims, they’ve been discussed and debunked ad nauseum. But McCain and Palin and many of their supporters are not yet satisfied, convinced that the media, Democrats and Liberals are “avoiding the truth” and “sweeping the facts under the rug.”

I wrote about Obama and Ayers recently in my post, Obama, Ayers & The UnAmericanization Of Sarah Palin. There’s a lot of info there and links to even more. But I will reiterate some points in this post that I feel bear repeating. But first, let’s take a look at a clip from McCain’s visit on Letterman earlier this week:

As you can see, Mr. McCain is quite fond of telling Americans that Bill Ayers said in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks that Ayers wished he had bombed more. Let’s look at what Ayers actually said and also his follow-up to its misinterpretation:

In 2001, A New York Times article quoted Ayers as saying:

“I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough”, and, when asked if he would “do it all again” as saying “I don’t want to discount the possibility.”

In a Letter to the Editor published September 15, 2001, Ayers responded to the quotes with:

“This is not a question of being misunderstood or ‘taken out of context’, but of deliberate distortion.”

Ayers insisted then and still maintains that when he said he had “no regrets” and that “we didn’t do enough” he was referring to his efforts to stop the United States from waging the Vietnam War. The statements were not intended to imply the he wished they had set more bombs.

In a 2004 interview, Ayers was quoted as saying:

“The one thing I don’t regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being…. When I say, ‘We didn’t do enough,’ a lot of people rush to think, ‘That must mean, “We didn’t bomb enough shit.”‘ But that’s not the point at all. It’s not a tactical statement, it’s an obvious political and ethical statement. In this context, ‘we’ means ‘everyone.’”

In the forward of Ayers’ memoir, he comments on his reflections about his time as part of the Weathermen:

[I am] embarrassed by the arrogance, the solipsism, the absolute certainty that we and we alone knew the way. The rigidity and the narcissism.

Today, Ayers is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education and was one of the co-authors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant proposal that won $49.2 million for public school reform. In 1997 Chicago awarded him its Citizen of the Year award for his work on the project.

So the question here, is John McCain telling people what he wants to believe Bill Ayers said, or what Bill Ayers actually said? Ironically for me, even if Mr. Ayers had claimed that he wished he’d bombed more, I still wouldn’t find Mr. Obama’s association with him any more disturbing than I do now. They served on a board together. Along with many other members. And Mr. Obama has always maintained that he openly condemns the actions Mr. Ayers partook in as a member of the Weathermen. If they were close friends and Mr. Obama thought of Bill Ayers as a hero? That would be a different story. But that’s not this story. There isn’t a respectable newspaper or publication that has not debunked McCain and Palin’s tired accusations trying to link Barack Obama to terrorists and their none-too-mild suggestion that Obama’s actually an enemy of this country and secretly wishes it, and all of us, harm.

Now let’s take a look at Mr. McCain’s association with G. Gordon Liddy. I’m not writing about this to suggest we should be concerned about John McCain’s association with the man, but to highlight how easy it is to have associations with people that may be politically and morally questionable. And I think Mr. McCain’s association with Mr. Liddy appears to be far closer than Barack Obama’s ever was or is with Bill Ayers.

According to Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune:

Now a conservative radio talk-show host, Liddy spent more than 4 years in prison for his role in the 1972 Watergate burglary. That was just one element of what Liddy did, and proposed to do, in a secret White House effort to subvert the Constitution. Far from repudiating him, McCain has embraced him…

Last November, McCain went on his radio show. Liddy greeted him as “an old friend,” and McCain sounded like one. “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family,” he gushed. “It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

Now McCain claims on Letterman that Liddy has paid his debt to society. And while it’s true that Bill Ayers never went to jail due to a legal technicality, he has most certainly given back to society in his involvement and founding of many various education reforms and youth programs. And has been widely recognized for such. What has G. Gordon Liddy been doing and saying since his release from prison?

Shortly after the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, Liddy commented to his radio listeners:

“Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests… They’ve got a big target on there, ATF. Don’t shoot at that, because they’ve got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots… Kill the sons of bitches.”

Later, Liddy claimed that he was just suggesting that people should defend themselves if federal agents came in firing weapons:

“I was talking about a situation in which law enforced agents comes smashing into a house, doesn’t say who they are, and their guns are out, they’re shooting, and they’re in the wrong place. This has happened time and time again. The ATF has gone in and gotten the wrong guy in the wrong place. The law is that if somebody is shooting at you, using deadly force, the mere fact that they are a law enforcement officer, if they are in the wrong, does not mean you are obliged to allow yourself to be killed so your kinfolk can have a wrongful death action. You are legally entitled to defend yourself and I was speaking of exactly those kind of situations. If you’re going to do that, you should know that they’re wearing body armor so you should use a head shot. Now all I’m doing is stating the law, but all the nuances in there got left out when the story got repeated.”

But then Liddy proceeded to state that he should have suggested shots to the groin instead of the head.

So, in addition to appearing on Liddy’s radio show and publicly praising the man, McCain also allowed Liddy’s home to be the site of a McCain fundraiser at which guests could have their pictures taken with McCain and Liddy. Over the years, Liddy has made at least four contributions totaling $5,000 to Sen. McCain’s campaigns — including $1,000 this year. Sound familiar? In 1995, Bill Ayers hosted a “coffee” for Mr. Obama’s first run for office. He then donated $200 to Sen. Obama’s campaign. Once.

In discussing Obama’s tenuous link to Ayers, McCain has publicly proclaimed:

“I think not only a repudiation but an apology for ever having anything to do with an unrepentant terrorist is due the American people.”

By that same manner of thinking, I would certainly expect, at the very least, the same from Sen. McCain. But on Letterman, McCain instead stands behind G. Gordon Liddy and defends their friendship.

Now understand fully Liddy’s history and his crucial actions against America and Americans; Liddy was the chief operative for the White House Plumbers during Richard Nixon’s Presidency. Liddy masterminded the first break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building to plant bugs and photograph documents. This was 1972. The same time Mr. Ayers was an active member of the Weathermen. Liddy’s act of burglary was covered up and became the now infamous Watergate scandal which eventually led to President Nixon’s resignation and Liddy himself was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping and received a 20-year sentence. He served four and a half years before his sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

But wait, there’s so much more. During his years as the chief of the White House Plumbers under Nixon’s rule, Liddy suggested firebombing the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. (where classified documents leaked by Daniel Ellsberg were being stored), kidnapping anti-war protest organizers and transporting them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention, and luring mid-level Democratic campaign officials to a house boat in Baltimore where they would be secretly photographed in compromising positions with call girls. Luckily, most of Liddy’s suggestions were rejected. However, his suggestion of breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office was given the go-ahead by the Nixon Administration. Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. The Pentagon Papers was a top secret, 14,000 page government report about the history of the Government’s internal planning and policy concerning the Vietnam War. The actual name of that report was United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. As a result of Ellsberg’s copying and giving portions of this report to the New York Times, the Times began publishing excerpts as an article series in 1971. 

Oh, and one last thing that may or may not be important. Liddy has stated that as a child he listened to Adolph Hitler’s speeches and they “made me feel a strength inside I had never known before. Hitler’s sheer animal confidence and power of will [entranced me]. He sent an electric current through my body.”

Liddy later stated that he condemned Nazism and believed Hitler was evil.

Once again, my point here isn’t to smear McCain, but to shine a light on people and their relationships to others and how easy those relationships are to exploit (see also McCain Campaign Smears Snap Back Again With William Timmons). And like Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, and his associations with bigots and America-haters as a member of the AIF, McCain has some deep, dark skeletons in his closet that are at least as disturbing as anything he claims of Barack Obama. And to my mind, worse. At least Mr. Obama condemned the actions of the young Mr. Ayers, while John McCain publicly defended his friendship with and pride in G. Gordon Liddy just days ago.

If there’s anything to be swept under the rug, now might be a good time.

6 Degrees Of Terror: Obama, McCain, Ayers & Liddy