The Annenberg Foundation, William Ayers, and John McCain

The Annenberg Foundation, William Ayers, and John McCain

by Sheila Musaji

Guilt by association has been a subject that I have written a lot about lately.  There was Daniel Pipes outlandish Obama “connection” to Sirhan Sirhan, and the Obama connection to Rashid Khalidi (who was compared by John McCain to a neo-nazi). There was the Obama connection to Rev. Wright (ignoring the McCain connection to Pastors Parsley and Hagee). Actually there were so many of these guilt by association claims that it would take an entire article just to list them.  It has been a particularly nasty and shameful political campaign.

Guilt by association is a tacky, underhanded tactic that can be a two-edged sword.  John McCain’s campaign released a 90 second TV spot that ties Barack Obama to Bill Ayers and calls the Chicago Annenberg Challenge of the Annenberg Foundation a “radical education foundation” that “Ayers and Obama ran together”

Actually, Obama was on the board of the CAC, and Ayers was a volunteer for CAC (but never on the board).  Ayers did attend board meetings.  The St. Petersburg Times has totally debunked the “radical” charge on their PolitiFact page in an article that includes the following:

“The McCain campaign cited several pieces of evidence for that allegation, including a 1995 invitation from the foundation for applications from schools “that want to make radical changes in the way teachers teach and students learn.” The campaign appears to have confused two different definitions of the word “radical.” Clearly the invitation referred to “a considerable departure from the usual or traditional,” rather than “advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs.”

The campaign also cited two projects the foundation funded, one having to do with a United Nations-themed Peace School and another that focused on African-American studies.

“That is radical in the eye of this campaign and we imagine in the eyes of most Americans,” said Michael Goldfarb, a spokesman for McCain. “It is a subjective thing, and there are going to be people in Berkeley and Chicago who think that is totally legitimate.”

Teaching about the United Nations and African-American studies may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hardly “radical” in the same way Ayers’ Vietnam-era activities were. Moreover, most of the projects the foundation funded (more on that below) were not remotely controversial.”

The People’s Forum has a lengthy list of well-known and respected people who worked with or supported CAC including during the time period when William Ayers was connected to CAC.  So, if funding the CAC amounts to funding William Ayers, then it was Republicans who support John McCain who funded William Ayers.

The McCain/Palin campaign issued a press release that lists 100 current and former U.S. Ambassadors who support John McCain and one of these is “Lenore Annenberg, Chief of Protocol—Radnor, Penn.”  According to the press release:  “Nobody could ask for a greater show of confidence,” Sen. McCain commented. “These former ambassadors are outstanding men and women who have served their country in foreign lands with great distinction and devotion to the values we all hold dear. They have a deep knowledge of the challenges facing this country abroad as well as at home. I am honored by their endorsement.”

According to an article in Education Week:  “Leonore Annenberg, 90, who was chief of protocol in the Reagan White House and is the president and chairman of the Pennsylvania-based Annenberg Foundation. She is the widow of Walter H. Annenberg, the late publisher, philanthropist, ambassador, and founder of the Annenberg Challenge.”

As one blogger pointed out“Walter and Leonore Annenberg weren’t just giving money to the educational foundation started by William Ayers, they were also giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee and various other Republican groups, as well as to a whole host of Republican candidates, including the following:  George W. Bush $4000 -  Mitt Romney $5000 - Strom Thurmond $1000 - Fred Thompson $500 - Rick Santorum $3000.  There are questions that are not being asked or answered such as—why would billionaire Republican philanthropists give millions of dollars to a program that was started by William Ayers, if he is such a scary figure and unrepentant?  Why would George W., Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and all those other Republicans accept money from the people who were funding this William Ayers-associated group? And, why won’t McCain discuss these connections between the Republican Party and Ayers?”

That’s a pretty good question!

By the way, since guilt by association has been such a feature of the McCain campaign - perhaps McCain should reconsider his own ties to ACORN, and folks like J. Gordon Liddy.  He might also remember the Keating Five corruption scandal. 

Sarah Palin might reconsider exactly who is pallin’ around with terrorists.