Suddenly, the presidential campaigns are addressing an issue
that should have been at the forefront of this year's election long ago.
Call it "characters count."
We know people especially public figures
by the company they keep. And we need to know much more about, to put
it charitably, the characters that have figured prominently for years in
Barack Obama's life.
Over the weekend, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
brought the issue to the fore by observing caustically that the
Democrats' would-be commander-in-chief has "palled around with
terrorists." The Obama campaign immediately deployed talking points and
a television ad conjuring up Charles Keating, a one-time friend and
supporter of John McCain who was a driving force behind the 1980s-era
savings and loan debacle.
The problem for Barack Obama is that convicted and
unrepentant terrorist William Ayers is not the only person with a
profound animosity towards this country with whom he has "palled around"
since his youth. It is not, as the Democratic candidate maintains, a
distraction or a sign of desperation on the part of his opponents that
serious questions are finally being asked about the nature and the
implications of the judgment he has exhibited in the past and may
exhibit in the future as evidenced by his myriad and profoundly
troubling personal ties. That is especially the case since so little is
known about the junior Senator from Illinois and what he really means by
Take for example, the formative influence in Barack Obama's
youth that he calls in his memoirs simply "Frank." As it happens, the
Frank in question was Frank Marshall Davis, a well-known Stalinist
Communist in Hawaii whose attachment to the Soviet Union and hatred for
an America he loathed as racist and imperialistic caused the FBI to keep
him under surveillance for at least 19 years. Evidently, young Obama
and his father spent hours in the company of this mentor, presumably
soaking in not only his alcohol but his virulent hostility towards
We now know that a similar view was espoused routinely from
the pulpit of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of
Christ. Sen. Obama maintains that somehow he had not heard any of
Wright's loathing of this country - epitomized by the latter's notorious
plea, "G-d damn America." When confronted with evidence of it, he could
not bring himself to disassociate from his pastor of twenty years until
that tie properly threatened to scupper his candidacy during the
Thanks to the intrepid Stanley Kurtz, we also have learned of Sen.
Obama's longstanding ties to another fixture of the radical left, one
emblematic of its enmity towards an America seen as oppressive and
racist: the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
(better known as ACORN). Obama trained ACORN personnel, worked with its
activists on the group's (often problematic) voter-registration efforts
and consulted with its most aggressive operatives. Preeminent among the
latter has been one Madeline Talbott.
Obama also secured, through his position on the Woods Fund and Chicago
Annenberg Challenge boards (he served on the former with Bill Ayers),
funding for ACORN's intimidation campaigns against banks that failed to
make sub-prime style loans to otherwise ineligible would-be homeowners.
As Kurtz put it in the New York Post, "It would be tough to find an 'on the
ground' community organizer more closely tied to the subprime-mortgage
fiasco than Madeline Talbott. And no one has been more supportive of
Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama."
To the extent that the economic effects of the sub-prime meltdown makes
Charles Keating's S&L raid on the Treasury look like a church social,
Obama should be careful about casting stones in that direction.
Even more worrisome from a national security perspective are some of
Obama's ties to prominent figures in the world of radical Islam. These
include another racist black nationalist, Don Warden, who converted to
Islam and changed his name to Khalid al-Mansour. According to Kenneth
Timmerman in Newsmax, al-Mansour has worked closely to advance the
influence operations in America of one of Saudi Arabia's most insidious
royal billionaires, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The latter has
appreciated for some time the help America's higher education
institutions could give his Islamist "soft jihad" the effort to
legitimate and insinuate Islamic law (Shariah) into this country.
Toward that end, he has bought leading Middle East studies programs,
notably at Georgetown and Harvard University, and reportedly helped
advance Obama's candidacy to the latter's law school.
Then, there is the case of Rashid Khalidi, a former colleague of Obama's
at the University of Chicago and now a professor at Columbia. Khalidi
is an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinians, fervent critic of
Israel (which he calls a destructive "racist" state), an admirer of
suicide bombers and a driving force behind the Arab American Action
Network (AAAN). This so-called pro-Palestinian "community organization"
in Chicago is another beneficiary of the largesse of the Obama-Ayers
team at the Woods Fund and promotes an agenda that would horrify many of
Obama's Jewish supporters.
Tuesday's town-hall style debate between Barack Obama and John McCain
offers the public an opportunity to explore a basic question: Have
these and similar influences on Sen. Obama's life in fact been
influential and, if so, will they translate into personnel, policies
and practices that are inimical to our country, its people and security
if he is elected?
We have a need to know. Characters count.