Editor’s note: This is third part of a three-part series based on an interview with former Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers after his debate with Dinesh D’Souza. In the first part, Ayers suggest Dinesh D’Souza would take a plea bargain on his indictment for alleged violations of election laws. In the second part, Ayers affirmed he wrote Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” before denying it.
At the conclusion of his debate with Dinesh D’Souza at Dartmouth College Jan. 30, Ayers repeatedly criticized Obama.
“I wish Barack Obama had listened to me and followed my advice, but it didn’t happen and it’s not going to happen,” Ayers told WND.
Ayers said he has “a lot of criticisms of President Obama,” providing hints as to why Obama, in his second term, may be losing the support of the far left.
“I am a militant, anti-war activist. I would pull out of these Middle East wars,” Ayers explained. “Also, I believe in single-payer health care, and I believe Medicare should be extended to everybody.”
Some observers of Ayers, who note his many documented ties to Obama, interpret his public distancing as a strategy to promote the president. Ayers and Obama both studied the tactics of the guru of 1960s radicalism, Saul Alinsky, who believed the most effective way to transform America into a socialist state was through infiltrating the system and bringing about incremental change.
When Obama ran for the presidency in 2008, Ayers claimed even then that the candidate was a “moderate,” and Ayers minimized his direct role in funding, coaching and otherwise assisting Obama in his meteoric rise from obscurity in Chicago in the 1990s to the White House.
Ayers insisted he has “no impact on President Obama or his policies.”
“If I did, we would be stopping the drone strikes, we would be closing Guantanamo, we be shutting down the Pentagon and the NSA. That is what I would do,” he said.
Ayers rejected suggestions Obama cleverly played to the political left as a campaign strategy to win the presidency in 2008 and 2012.
“People on the left thought Obama was winking on them, signaling, ‘I’m going to do what you want me to do.’ But, no, he wasn’t winking. You can see his record. Obama said he was a moderate, look at his record.”
Ayers argued that because the political left’s interpretation that Obama was “one of them” was incorrect, the political right also was wrong to demonize him.
“People like you say, ‘Uh, I don’t know … a secret socialist … a pal of terrorists … some sort of a black nationalist thing going on,” Ayers said. “Just like Obama wasn’t winking to the left, he also isn’t a secret socialist.”
Ayers characterized the view of Obama as a “secret socialist” as “paranoid schizophrenic.”
Asked to explain how, in his estimation, the right could have such a distorted view of Obama, Ayers answered, laughing: “I have no idea. I think that once you go down a rabbit hole, the logic of the world kinds of bends itself to you, rather than you opening your eyes to the world as it is. Obama said he is a moderate. What could be truer or clearer?”
WND pointed out that in his famous encounter with Joe the Plumber in the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama also said he wanted to redistribute income in America.
Ayers again deflected the question.
“Oh, come on, we redistribute income all the time in this country. We redistribute it up. The fact is, Eisenhower was a guy who knew how to redistribute income, I mean, 90 percent,” Ayers said, referring to the top marginal tax rate at the time.
“I mean those guys really knew how to tax and redistribute income, only upward. What was Truman, a socialist? And FDR, a communist?”
Ayers insisted his interpretation that Obama is in reality a political moderate is the only correct understanding of the president’s political views.
“I thought that Barack Obama was exactly as he advertised himself in the 2008 presidential campaign – a moderate, compromising, pragmatic, middle-of-the-road politician – very ambitious, and so ambitious that I used to say to my wife that, ‘I think he wants to be mayor of Chicago.’ That was the limit of my imagination.”
Ayers didn’t answer directly whether or not he supported Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
“I’ve only ever voted for Democrats twice in my life, and both times without any illusions,” he said.
Ayers maintained he’s “not an electoral politics guy.”
“I don’t think elections are the way we solve the problems of our country. What was it in 2004? Kerry and Bush? I mean really? Is that it? Is that who was running? I can’t remember. We should be involved in elections but only as it promotes and builds a larger strategy for social change.”
‘A guy in the neighborhood’
Ayers claimed throughout the interview that he barely knew Obama in Chicago.
“Before he was president, I knew Barack Obama just like thousands of other people know him. In Chicago, just like the campaign said, as ‘some guy around the neighborhood,’” Ayers said. “I never had any policy discussions with Obama when we were together.”
Ayers did not discuss the role he and his Weather Underground wife, Bernardine Dohrn, played in launching Obama’s public career. In 1995, Ayers and Dohrn held in the living room of their Hyde Park home the first fundraiser for Obama in his effort to win a seat in the Illinois state Senate.
In 1985, the Woods Foundation gave a $25,000 grant to the Developing Communities Project in Chicago that allowed the DCP to hire Obama, then 24 years old.
It was the job offer that allowed Obama to move from New York City to Chicago.
Ayers was a director of the Woods Foundation for nine years, from December 1999 to December 2008, overlapping with Obama for three years, with Obama serving on the board from December 1999 to December 2002.
From 1995 to 1999, Obama led an educational foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, CAC, and remained on the board until 2001,” Stanley Kurtz noted in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece in September 2008. “The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists. The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s.”
Kurtz concluded that Ayers’ criticism of Obama as a moderate politician is designed as disinformation to deflect attention from the importance Ayers truly played in the rise of Obama to prominence, not only in Chicago radical politics but also on the national scene.
Ayers’ claim that he wasn’t really “into” Obama because of the future president’s “moderation” is simply “unconvincing,” Kurtz said.
In his 2010 book, “Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism,” Kurtz noted Obama biographer David Remnick made almost no mention of Obama’s foundation work.
After all, it was at Ayers’ behest that Obama was put in charge of dispensing money to Chicago’s most radical activists. Obama’s conduct at CAC reveals him to have been a reliable supporter of Ayers’ most troubling projects and actions. It’s extraordinary, moreover, that Remnick’s biography has virtually nothing to say about Obama’s foundation work. Maybe that’s because it is impossible to tell the story of Obama’s foundation experience without facing up to the reality of the future president’s extensive partnership with Ayers.
Kurtz left no doubt he regarded the attempt to distance Ayers and Obama in Chicago is not supported by the evidence.
“The truth about the extended political partnership between Ayers and Obama stands in sharp contrast to the president’s famous April 2008 campaign claim that Ayers was ‘just a guy who lives in my neighborhood,’” Kurtz wrote.
He said Ayers’ “notoriety turned him into a particularly noticeable tear in the carefully woven fabric of Obama’s moderate image.”
“A few more tugs and the cloak itself would unravel, revealing the socialist secret beneath. That is why the Ayers story had to be suppressed,” Kurtz said.
Still, in the WND interview, Ayers insisted twice the Obama campaign’s claim in 2008 that Obama knew Ayers only because Ayers was “a guy in the neighborhood” was true.
“That’s all he was to me,” Ayers said. “Just a guy in the neighborhood.”
‘But Dad was a Republican’
WND asked Ayers if it was true that his father, Tom Ayers, helped fund Obama’s education.
The senior Ayers was a prominent Chicago businessman who was president of Chicago’s electric company, Consolidated Edison, from 1964-1980 and chairman from 1973-1980.
WND reported in 2012 Allen Hulton, a retired U.S. Postal Service carrier who delivered mail to the home of Tom and Mary Ayers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, claims to have been told by Mary Ayers that she and her husband were funding the Harvard Law School education of “foreign student” Barack Obama.
Hulton claims he later met Obama in front of the Ayers’ home.
Ayers laughed in response to the question.
“Not true, my dad was a Republican. Why would he fund Obama?” Ayers countered. “He never funded Obama.”
Then, distancing himself from his father, Ayers added: “I never had any policy discussions with Obama, and I never had any policy discussions with my father either, who lived with me for the last three years of his life. I mean, a great guy, but somebody I didn’t agree with politically.”
In “Radical-In-Chief,” Kurtz notes that John Ayers, brother of Bill Ayers, a leftist also involved in the Chicago movement for radical school reform, benefited from his father’s status in Chicago’s business community.
Bill Ayers, Kurtz noted, did not arrive back in Chicago until the spring of 1987, after going underground to avoid prosecution in his Weather Underground days. Ayers surfaced, only to have the criminal case against him dismissed because government prosecutors relied on Fourth Amendment-tainted wiretap evidence.
“Bill wouldn’t arrive in Chicago until the following fall,” Kurtz wrote. “Yet already, by the spring of 1987, Obama had made contact with Bill Ayers’ brother.”