For a United States Senator, Barack Obama has been doing a lot of explaining about the company he has kept for the last 17 years or so.
Take some Joe Blow Alderman off the streets of Chicago and examine his friends and acquaintances and you’re bound to come up with a couple of unsavory characters that straddle the line of legality with regard to city contracts or their business dealings.
But Obama is not some regular Machine pol juicing the way for his ward heeling friends so they can grow fat and rich at taxpayer expense. He is a United States Senator and the Democratic Party’s frontrunner for President of the United States. One would think a higher standard might be in order regarding such a man’s associates.
One would think.
The constant refrain of Obama defenders is that he is being unfairly criticized because his problematic friends and acquaintances represent nothing more than “guilt by association.” Taken on a case by case basis, such a defense might ring true. But Obama’s problem is that he has so many friends and associates where “guilt by association” is the explanation given by his campaign that one begins to wonder when we can declare the candidate just plain “guilty” of using horrendous judgment and question whether his connection to some of these characters actually goes beyond innocence of wrongdoing.
WILLIAM AYERS, TERRORIST
Former Weather Underground member and unrepentant terrorist bomber William Ayers was one of Obama’s earliest political supporters. Neither Obama or Ayers will comment on the extent of their relationship but it is clear that they have had contact several times over many years. They have participated in several forums at the University of Chicago together where Ayers is a professor and even served on the same Board of Directors overseeing the far left Woods Fund.
“Guilt by association?” Some enterprising journalist might want to ask Obama what he was doing paling around with an unreconstructed radical who spent 10 years on the run from the FBI and whose views on America or so out of the mainstream as to make him a pariah even among liberals. He must have found something attractive about Ayers to continue what was described by a friend of both men as a “friendship.” He may disavow the tactics used by Ayers but how about his ideology?
A politician can grow and change their views on a variety of subjects. This may be what happened to Obama over the years as his radicalism may have been tempered by both the reality of running for office and a sincere re-examination of his worldview. But shouldn’t his long term relationship with this despicable character call into question at the very least Obama’s judgment?
When decent folk would never dream of associating in any way with such a man as Bill Ayers, what does that say about the candidate? He could have refused appearing in the same forums with him. He could have turned down the spot on the board of the Woods Fund. But he didn’t. And so far, no explanation has been given by the campaign beyond “guilt by association.”
REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT
An even stronger case can be made that Obama’s relationship with this anti-Semitic, Farrakhan supporting, race baiting preacher should be seen as beyond an innocent interpretation of the “guilt by association” theme. Wright heads up a church chosen by Obama after what he himself calls a long search specifically because of the preacher’s sermons and his beliefs.
What are those beliefs?
Sen. Barack Obama’s pastor says blacks should not sing “God Bless America” but “God damn America.”
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s south side, has a long history of what even Obama’s campaign aides concede is “inflammatory rhetoric,” including the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own “terrorism.”
In a campaign appearance earlier this month, Sen. Obama said, “I don’t think my church is actually particularly controversial.” He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.
Let me ask you, gentle reader, does anyone in your family talk like this?
“We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye,” Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.
“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” he told his congregation.
Now if you or I had heard our minister or priest utter sentiments like that, what would you have done? I believe it is not beyond imagining that most Americans would have gotten up from their seats and walked out of the church never to return.
And Obama’s reaction?
Sen. Obama told the New York Times he was not at the church on the day of Rev. Wright’s 9/11 sermon. “The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification,” Obama said in a recent interview. “It sounds like he was trying to be provocative,” Obama told the paper.
Again the question must be raised. Rather than simply repudiating the comments, what is the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States doing attending this church? What in God’s name is Obama thinking when he hears this kind of rabid anti-Americanism spewing from the mouth of this racist demagogue?
“Guilt by association?” Or guilty of stupidity and arrogance? When an overwhelming majority of citizens would go far beyond “repudiating” Wright’s remarks and want nothing whatsoever to do with him, it calls into question Obama’s fitness for the office of President when he makes mealy mouthed explanations as he did to the Times. Can we afford someone as president who might actually sympathize, although not agree with the Ahmadinejad’s of the world when they start spouting their hateful rhetoric against America? Will he see them as simply trying to be “provocative?”
He’s heard it before and did nothing. Why would we expect him to stand up for America when his country is being trashed by the dictators of the world like Hugo Chavez?
TONY REZKO & ASSOCIATES
Here is where Obama’s relationships go far beyond “guilt by association” and enters the realm of deliberate obfuscation and perhaps even lying.
Obama’s ties to this scam artist and crook go far beyond what he told the New York Times – that he saw Rezko a couple of times a year and that he socialized with Rezko and his wife about 4 times a year.
Mr. Obama has portrayed Mr. Rezko as a one-time fund-raiser whom he had occasionally seen socially. But interviews with more than a dozen political and business associates suggest that the two men were closer than the senator has indicated.
The New York Times certainly has a gift for understatement. An FBI mole, John Thomas, who was working the Rezko case as a partner of one of Rezko’s associates had this to say about the extent of how many times the two men saw each other:
Sources said Thomas helped investigators build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru’s Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005. ...
Both politicians relied on Rezko for fund-raising connections. Obama was in the thick of his successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Now in the glare of a presidential campaign, Obama has donated to charity $157,835 from contributions to his Senate campaign that he has linked to Rezko.
This is the kind of lie that will come back to haunt Obama as the Rezko trial proceeds. At every step Obama has sought to hide, to minimize, to dismiss his relationship with Rezko as a one sided affair – that of an eager Chicago fixer wanting to get close to an up and coming state senator. Instead, the picture that will almost certainly be revealed during Rezko’s trial is that Obama and Rezko were close associates with Rezko being a crucial part of Obama’s rise in politics while Obama for his part, aided Rezko in his business dealings.
How? By the time honored political tool known as “the drop by.”
Suppose you are a property developer meeting with foreign businessmen trying to convince them to invest in your plan. Suddenly, a United States senator shows up at your meeting to greet the foreigners, do a little backslapping, and thus give legitimacy and “juice” to the developer making it easier for the foreigners to trust him. The senator is in and out in just a few minutes. But the impact of his visit is not lost on the foreign businessmen.
This is exactly what Obama did for Rezko on several occassions:
While it is not clear what Mr. Rezko got from the relationship, he liked to display his alliances with politicians, including Mr. Obama.
In one instance, when he was running for the Senate, Mr. Obama stopped by to shake hands while Mr. Rezko, an immigrant from Syria, was entertaining Middle Eastern bankers considering an investment in one of his projects.”
The above via Rezko Watch who adds this:
This “dropping in” appears to be very much a part of a tit-for-tat, the exchanging of political favors between Rezko and Obamaâ€”Rezko raised funds and contributed to the political ascendance of Obama. In exchange, Obama obligingly “dropped in” while Rezko just happened to be entertaining Middle Eastern bankers whom he wanted to impress with his connections and that he’d like to have as investors in his real estate developments in Chicago.
This is a favor done for a friend. It is not illegal. It is not even unethical – except it flies in the face of Mr. Obama’s contention that he “never did any favors” for Tony Rezko. That statement is at the very least a shading of the truth. And it was made to hide the extent of his relationship with a very unsavory character.
And it isn’t just Obama’s relationship with Rezko that is at issue. The candidate has yet to explain the extent of his relationship with several Rezko associates who donated money to his campaign – all at the behest of Rezko. One contribution had to be returned by Obama because Rezko reimbursed the donor out of his own pocket.
All of this, according to the Obama campaign and numerous apologists, is simple “guilt by association.” They claim that Obama has no connection to Rezko’s activities for which he has been indicted and is standing trial.
Except, of course, that Rezko was using the money he extorted from companies wanting to do business with the state and then turned around and made political contributions using that same money to Obama and other Illinois politicians.
In the governmentâ€™s case against Rezko, prosecutors allege kickback payments were diverted to others to make campaign contributions to Obamaâ€™s 2004 Senate campaign because Rezko had already made the maximum federal contribution. Obama is not named in the governmentâ€™s document but his campaign has not disputed that Obama is the politician who received the money from Rezko allies, something backed up by campaign disclosure records. Money linked to the straw donations has already been contributed to charity, Obama aides said.
Obama has returned more than $150,000 of that money. There is probably more but it is admittedly difficult to find given the lengths to which Rezko went to conceal his activities. And the ultimate question that hangs over Obama like the Sword of Damocles:
What did he know and when did he know it?
Rezko, Auchi, Alsammarae, Wright, Ayers – these are at least some of the shady and corrupt characters we know about who have had contact with both Obama and Rezko. The candidate refuses to address the extent of his relationship with any of them.
When do we get beyond “guilt by association” of these people with Obama and start to wonder about just who this man is who is marching toward the nomination and a better than even shot at the White House?
In an unbelievable example of serendipity, Bob Owens posted on the exact same subject at almost exactly the same time. The title of his post? “Guilt by Association.”
Great minds and all that…