Barack Obama’s radical connections

Published 10:51 pm Monday, March 10, 2008

By By Tray Smith
In 1970, when Barack Obama was 8 years old and the American left was seething with anger over the Vietnam War, a group of radical liberals know as the Weathermen planned to protest by bombing a U.S. military event at Fort Dix. Although their plan failed when explosive materials detonated prematurely in a New York City safe house, killing three of the group’s own members, the Weathermen went on to successfully bomb the Pentagon, the United States Capitol, and a New York City Police Station.
Twenty five years later, as Obama began his campaign for the Illinois State Senate, he sought the support of liberal elites in Chicago’s Hyde Park community from the home of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, each of whom are former Weathermen. The couple was allowed to reintegrate into society after turning themselves in in 1981, when prosecutors dropped all charges against them as a result of mistakes investigators made while attempting to determine their location. Obama and Ayers have been in frequent association throughout the last decade.
Last month, the Politico reported that a spokesperson for the Obama campaign responded to inquiries about Ayers by saying, “Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence…….and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost 40 years ago is ridiculous.” But Ayers has yet to apologize for bombings he helped coordinate, which in fairness did not cause any casualties outside of the Weathermen’s own safe house, and he told the New York Times that the group “didn’t do enough.”
Two weeks ago, in a Democratic debate in Ohio, now U.S. Senator Obama denounced, at the insistence of presidential rival Senator Hillary Clinton, Nation of Islam leader and Obama supporter Louis Farrakhan, who has referred to whites as the “skunk of the earth” and called Judaism a “gutter religion.” However, Obama has not yet explicitly denounced his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who has honored Farrakhan’s “honesty and integrity” and said that Farrakhan “truly epitomizes greatness.” Wright himself has said that the U.S. has shamelessly supported Zionism, which carries with it elements of white racism, and that “white America got a wake-up call after 9/11.” Obama compares Wright to “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don’t agree with.” But unlike an uncle, Obama’s association with Wright, his pastor of 20 years, is entirely voluntary.
Last week, Tony Rezko, a politically active, low-income housing projects developer in Chicago with ties to Obama, began a trial on corruption charges in U.S. District Court. While the current proceedings are unrelated to Obama, many questions loom over their relationship. Most troublesome is a series of real estate transactions that began in early 2005, after Obama purchased a house in Chicago and Rezko purchased an adjoining lot from the same owner on the same day. One year later, Rezko sold the Obama’s a parcel of that lot at a “discounted rate.” Reportedly, Obama was only able to secure the purchase of his home after Rezko agreed to purchase the property, because the seller intended to sell both the home and the lot as part of a packaged deal for a price that Obama was unwilling to pay.
At the time of the transactions, Rezko, who has raised over $150,000 in political contributions for Obama, was already known to be under investigation by the Chicago U.S. Attorneys office. The senator has since decided to return those funds or donate them to charitable causes, and says that his real estate transactions with Rezko were a “bone headed” mistake. However, conducting questionable real estate business with a person already under investigation brings Obama’s capacity for good judgment, on which he has based much of his current presidential campaign, into question.
Only recently, at the impatient urging of the Hillary Clinton campaign, has the media begun questioning Barack Obama’s suspicious personal relationships. Such scrutiny may help explain why, last Tuesday, primary voters in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island gave Clinton sufficiently large victories to justify her continued presence in the Democratic presidential contest. Democrats who have recoiled at the Clinton’s willingness to exploit doubts about Obama may be happy come this fall, when John McCain would have otherwise been able to use that same information. For them, it is better for Democrats to decide Obama’s sketchy relationships and disqualify him from the Oval Office than for the general electorate to do so in the fall.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@

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