The One and Only Billy Ayers…
I'm not convinced that painting former Weather Underground jefe Bill Ayers and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a post-American Century version of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers is a) effective negative politics or b) particularly relevant in the glimmering twilight of late capitalism (by which I mean of course enduring capitalism that will hopefully still be around to help increase my kids' standard of living every bit as much as it has mine). As someone who lives in Ohio half the time, I've seen the McCain "Know Enough?" attack ad about Ayers a million times. My seven-year-old son thought it was convincing; my 14-year-old thought it was irrelevant and weak. Go figure.
But Bill "I don't regret setting bombs" Ayers really is a jackass of the highest degree and deserves all the opprobrium this latest turn in the spotlight affords (his last big burst of publicity came from the ill-timed release of his kaboom-filled autobiography right around the 9/11 attacks; not a good moment to talk about, other things, blowing up the Pentagon).
Here's City Journal's Sol Stern with a strong piece about Ayers' post-radical life as an "education reformer":
Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for "the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane." Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that "Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education - a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation," and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: "Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!"