2008 August 30 Saturday
Obama Tries To Silence Critics

Barack Obama's campaign lawyer is trying to prevent the use of free speech and freedom of the press.

``Barack Obama is friends with Ayers, defending him as, quote, 'Respectable' and 'Mainstream,''' the group's ad states. ``Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' home. And the two served together on a left-wing board. Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol and is proud of it? Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?''

In a letter to station managers, Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer wrote: ``Your station is committed to operating in the public interest, an objective that cannot be satisfied by accepting for compensation material of such malicious falsity.''

Bauer also wrote to Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Keeney, noting that the ad is a ``knowing and willful attempt to evade the strictures of federal election law.''

A group opposed to Obama is publicizing the friendship between Obama and former 60s Weathermen (later Weather Underground once they became feminist) radical Bill Ayers. Whether or not one believes the more critical interpretations of that relationship is really besides the point. I do not think that US Presidential campaigns should use legal means to try to silence critics.

I am not writing this to puff up John McCain. His own record of trying to regulate political speech through campaign finance laws is pretty bad. But Obama isn't exactly coming across here as a great civil libertarian.

Update: If you are curious about the Ayers-Obama relationship see Stanley Kurtz for the details.

Although the press has been notably lax about pursuing the matter, the full story of the Obama-Ayers relationship calls the truth of Obama’s account seriously into question. When Obama made his first run for political office, articles in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald featured among his qualifications his position as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation where Ayers was a founder and guiding force. Obama assumed the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office, and almost certainly received the job at the behest of Bill Ayers. During Obama’s time as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers’s own education projects received substantial funding. Indeed, during its first year, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge struggled with significant concerns about possible conflicts of interest. With a writ to aid Chicago’s public schools, the Annenberg challenge played a deeply political role in Chicago’s education wars, and as Annenberg board chairman, Obama clearly aligned himself with Ayers’s radical views on education issues. With Obama heading up the board and Ayers heading up the other key operating body of the Annenberg Challenge, the two would necessarily have had a close working relationship for years (therefore “exchanging ideas on a regular basis”). So when Ayers and Dorhn hosted that kickoff for the first Obama campaign, it was not a random happenstance, but merely further evidence of a close and ongoing political partnership. Of course, all of this clearly contradicts Obama’s dismissal of the significance of his relationship with Ayers.

When Kurtz appeared on a Chicago radio station to discuss Ayers the Obama campaign organized an attempt to silence Kurtz.

Stanley Kurtz's appearance on the Milt Rosenberg radio program in Chicago last night provided an unsettling look into the authoritarian tactics being employed by the Obama campaign to stifle and intimidate its critics.

I happened to be in the WGN studios for the entire affair because my friend, Zack Christenson, produces the show in question. He was aware of my previous reporting on the Obama-Ayers connection and kindly invited me to sit in on the two-hour interview. (For full disclosure, I work for two other radio stations in Chicago, WIND, and WYLL).

As I arrived at the downtown Chicago studios a few hours before show time, the phones began ringing off the hook with irate callers demanding Kurtz be axed from the program. It didn't take long to discover that the Obama campaign—which had declined invitations to join the show for its duration to offer rebuttals to Kurtz's points—had sent an "Obama Action Wire" e-mail to its supporters, encouraging them to deluge the station with complaints.

Do you like free speech? Do you like freedom of the press? This sort of tactic shows a distinct lack of respect for free speech and freedom of the press.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 August 30 01:17 PM  Politics Free Speech


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