Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and Political Violence

Xeni Jardin over at Boing! Boing! highlights an absurd interview with Bill Ayers featuring (in Jardins words) “his suggestions on what those swept up in the current wave of hope following [Barack] Obama’s election might do to harness that excitement.”

Ayers, of course, is the former Weather Underground terrorist and Obama associate whom McCain tried (way too late and in a lousy way) to make an issue of when it was clear that he was going to lose the election.

It is odd to see just how easily left wingers who commit acts of political violence can be mainstreamed. It is difficult to imagine that happening in a similar way on the Right.

For example, imagine that John McCain had repeatedly associated with an anti-abortion activist who had led an underground group that attempted to bomb abortion clinics around the country during the 1980s. Does anyone seriously think that such an association would have been downplayed by the mainstream media the way Ayers was? Would left-liberals like Jardin approvingly cite, say, National Review if it made the mind boggling decision to run a political advice piece from such a former terrorist? In fact, anti-abortion advocates are generally considered beyond the pale when they coordinate plain old non-violent civil disobedience.

Somehow, I don’t think so. This is the same sort of dynamic that allows some left-liberals to deplore the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while cultivating the cult of Che Guevera. It’s the sort of dynamic that Bill Clinton relied on when he pardoned 16 members of the Puerto Rican nationalist FALN in 2000, knowing that even though the group was reponsible for carrying out deadly bombings in the United States, his legacy wouldn’t suffer (even after the 9/11 attacks outraged Americans, Clinton’s pardoning of the FALN terrorists has never really harmed his public image).

On the other hand, I assume if George W. Bush pardoned Michael Griffin that this would quickly become a defining incident of his presidency.