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Politico’s Mike Allen reacts to one year old Bill Ayers audio, and whether it will impact Barack Obama.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
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HH: There is no better way to kick off a day like this than with America’s preeminent political correspondent, Mike Allen of www.politico.com. Hello, Mike.

MA: Well, howdy, Hugh.

HH: Let’s get to the bottom line. Who’s going to win?

MA: Senator Clinton’s going to win, and the campaigns are expecting that her win may be bigger than expected. Who knows who’s being spun, what’s going on, but I can tell you that depending on turnout, she could be back to that double digit win that had been looking like in polls.

HH: Now Mike Allen, I believe your analysis was correct when you and the folks at Politico put it out there over a month ago that it doesn’t matter how big she wins. She really cannot catch up, because Michigan and Florida are not revoting in the popular vote or the delegates, and they’ve got this screwy system. Does a big double digit win today cause the superdelegates to freeze and maybe begin to move back to her?

MA: By itself, it does not, and that’s the irony of tonight, is that it doesn’t really change anything. But here’s the sort of two ways that it could unfold. If it’s very close, the three, four, five, even six points that we’ve been expecting, and that the latest polls had reflected, then the way that somebody described it to me was she’ll be on a slow morphine drip, the cake is baked, it’s just a matter of when she realizes that there’s no point in continuing with this, that she needs to think about what history’s going to say about her. If it’s a big win, that by itself does not help her in the math, either in popular vote or delegates, amazingly enough. Bloomberg figured out that even if she won by twenty or more, she wouldn’t go ahead in the popular vote. The delegates just change by one or two because of the screwy rules, and like one of the little hiccups in this, with all the attention that’s been on Philadelphia, as you know, Hugh, two weeks from now, May 6th, Indiana and North Carolina, there’s more delegates together than there are tonight. So she can’t move her numbers that much. But what a big move, a big win would do, would help her with this, somebody described it to me as the real politick argument, that her, she and President Clinton are making, and that’s this argument, okay, take away the silly states, only look at the big states where Democrats can or could win in November. If you just look at those states, Obama’s not winning. She’s winning.

HH: Now Mike Allen, I think as well it buys time for more to be learned about Barack Obama. And one area of great interest, beginning with the ABC News debate, has been former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, William Ayers, professor of education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. A very, very energetic, young Salem Radio Network producer by the name of Guy Benson, is also a Townhall.com columnist, spent the last 48 hours digging, finding stuff, and he came up with, and I want your reactions to this, a November, 2007 SDS reunion, at which Ayers gave some remarks. Now this is the guy at whom Obama’s state senate campaign in 1995 was begun, he served on the board with him for a long time, he acknowledged the friendship in the debate. Here’s some comments of Bill Ayers from 2007 I’d like your reaction to. Cut number 18 please.

BA: This is a time not only of great stress and oppression and authoritarianism, and a kind of rising insipient American form of fascism, and what the government counts on, what the powerful count on, is that we will stay quiet. It’s the idea that we can tolerate these intolerable things without screaming, without somehow coming out, joining up and coming out and saying something. It’s what they count on in terms of keeping things under control.

HH: And here is Ayers on general leftist strategy. Again, it’s from a year ago. Number 19:

BA: Even though we think of ourselves as political, we weren’t politicians. We were people who had a moral vision of what was possible. And when we talk, for example, about health care, about peace, we’re talking a language of ethics, not a language of instrumentalism or opportunism, or what we might get. So we have to speak in a language that’s large and generous and encompassing. And then we have to act.

HH: And then we have to act. One more cut, and then I’ll get a first reaction. Cut number 20:

BA: Empire resurrected and unapologetic, war without end, an undefined enemy that’s supposed to be a rallying point for a new kind of energized jingoistic patriotism, unprecedented and unapologetic military expansion, white supremacy changing its form, but essentially intact, attacks on women and girls, violent attacks, growing surveillance in every sphere of our lives, on and on and on, the targeting of gay and lesbian people as a kind of a scapegoating gesture to keep our minds off of what’s really happening.

HH: So Mike Allen, this is Barack Obama’s pal, and acknowledges as such. Does this stuff matter?

MA: Well, of course it does, and you just put your finger on it when you used the word pal. And the question will be the degree to which that’s right. This was great digging by that young man, but by itself, it’s not incriminating, because Barack Obama has not been arguing that Bill Ayers did not hold reprehensible views. He’s more been arguing oh, he’s just a law professor, he’s just a neighbor. The problem for him will be if more evidence emerges that there is some close connection. As you well know, Ben Smith of the Politico, who did the first, or one of the first stories about this, you know, has documented that Mr. Ayers was present or hosted a meeting of liberal, radical activists when Senator Obama was getting ready to run for the state senate. Some termed it an organization meeting. If more details like that come together, and indicate that Senator Obama’s effort to brush it off sort of the way he initially brushed off the remarks by the pastor, then that’s where there’s a big problem.

HH: I also tend to believe, though, and this goes back to Ben’s piece as well, that when you serve on a board with someone for three years, you cannot but help to know what they believe in, and you make choices about them. One more clip from Guy Benson’s digging, cut number 21:

BA: It’s worth coming together forty years later and saying what is that spirit that we recognize that we can build on? What is that spirit that we want to connect to? That spirit of rebellion, the spirit of resistance, the spirit of insurgency, and spirit. It’s that spirit that we should be talking about. But just to give us a little perspective, I’m reminded of something that Chou En Lai, the Chinese premier under Mao Tse Tung, Chou En Lai was asked by a European reporter if he could comment on the impact and his thinking of the French Revolution, in terms of the Chinese experience. And Chou En Lai thought about it for quite a long time, and he said the French Revolution? Too early to tell. And I think there’s something to that, you know, that I mean if you take the long view, empire’s in decline. If you take the long view, there’s a lot to look forward to. So many of us have watched with absent horror as we’ve been marched, step by step, towards an authoritarianism that was unthinkable forty years ago.

HH: Now Mike Allen, his friend, Bill Ayers, who launched his campaign in his house, Barack Obama launched his first campaign in Bill Ayers’ house, served on a board with him for three years, there are other ties, is quoting Chou En Lai in 2007. I think this is going to be a big issue.

MA: Well right, and in part because it undercuts Senator Obama’s, one of Senator Obama’s defenses, which is that Bill Ayers’ outrageous statements were made when he, the Senator, was in elementary school.

HH: Right.

MA: Clearly, that’s not complete.

HH: Exactly. When he was eight years old.

MA: Right. And you continue to make news through sound, just as you did with your selections from Senator Obama’s autobiography.

HH: So if in fact, and hat’s off to Guy Benson, I didn’t make any news, he did, and Sandy Rios in Chicago was playing them today, and of course, we’ll mainstream them right now. But if this gets legs, or does it…I guess it’s this way. You know there was big pushback from the left at George Stephanopoulos for even bringing up Ayers. Now that we know that Ayers as of a year ago is still quoting Chou En Lai, doesn’t the mainstream media have an obligation to find out just how close they are, and to publicize who Ayers is?

MA: Oh, they will. And you saw a front page editorial in the New York Times today about Senator McCain’s ties, perhaps favors for a supporter and developer in Arizona. Both of these candidates, for different reasons, I think you will agree, have somewhat gotten a pass through the laundering that Senator Clinton has got, and that Governor Romney got, and Senator Obama in part was just because the media loved him so much. Senator McCain was partly because they didn’t think he was going to win. But now, I think they’re going through a scrub cycle. And in both cases, I think you’re going to see a race among elite news organizations to provide revelatory material about these…and that may mean that it’s exculpatory. But I think that people are going to try and get to the bottom of these questions that have been thrown out there. Right now, we have questions. I think Tim Russert said it well the other day. He said that Senator Obama has a big question mark over his head, and ironically, those questions have been added to rather than subtracted during this process.

HH: You’re right. Mike Allen, we’re going to check back with you after the results come in from Politico.com.

End of interview.

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