Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friends of Bill

In today's WSJ, Thomas Franks talks about His Friend Bill Ayers:

For days on end, the Republican presidential campaign has put nearly all of its remaining political capital on emphasizing Mr. Obama's time on various foundation boards with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen, which planted bombs and issued preposterous statements in the Vietnam era. Some on the right seem to believe Mr. Ayers is Mr. Obama's puppet-master, while others are content merely to insist that the association proves Mr. Obama to be soft on terrorism. Maybe he's soft on anarchy and repudiation, too.

I can personally attest to the idiocy of it all because I am a friend of Mr. Ayers. In fact, I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill.

Bill's got lots of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble. Moral qualities which, by the way, were celebrated boisterously on day one of the GOP convention in September.

All in all, Franks uses 839 words and 14 paragraphs to defend Ayers. It's not until the eleventh paragraph that Franks uses 43 words to half-heartedly criticize's Ayers violent past and his refusal to apologize for it:

I do not defend the things Mr. Ayers did in his Weatherman days. Nor will I quibble with those who find Mr. Ayers wanting in contrition. His 2001 memoir is shot through with regret, but it lacks the abject style our culture prefers.

Yes, our culture is so picky in its contrition demands, isn't it? We're really out of line asking Ayers to actually express sorrow for his actions in such an abject style. Too bad we're all not as sophisticated as Mr. Franks to understand the regret that Ayers feels. Silly us for hearing statements like "I only wish we'd done more" and thinking that the it's an entirely different type of regret that Ayers really feels. Maybe Mr. Franks' next book should be called "What's Wrong With Our Culture?".

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