Barack Obama took some heat during last night's Democratic debate from both moderator George Stephanopholous and Senator Clinton for his relationship with William Ayers.
Much of the focus has been on a 1995 gathering Obama attended at Ayers' Chicago home in order to shore up support for his then-fledgling State Senate campaign. Details of Ayers' past have begun to surface: he's a former member of the radical Weather Underground movement--a group responsible for several bombings against U.S. targets, including the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.
Ayers told the New York Times as recently as 2001 that he didn't regret setting off bombs, and that the Weather Underground--which many regard as a domestic terrorist group--"didn't do enough."
Ayers wasn't the only former "Weatherman" in attendance at that 1995 meeting with Senator Obama. His longtime live-in partner, Berandine Dohrn, was also present. These days, Dohrn doesn't exactly look the part of a fire-breathing revolutionary.
A tenured professor at Northwestern University in Chicago and middle-aged mother of two, it's hard to believe that former F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover once called her "the most dangerous woman in America." But in the late 60s' and throughout the 1970s, Dohrn was well-known for statements like this ( Watch clip here):
"White youth must choose sides now. We must either fight on the side of the oppressed or be on the side of the oppressor."
Dohrn's call for armed revolution was par for the course during her days as a leader of the Weather Underground movement (although you won’t find any mention of it on her bio at Northwestern's website).
As these clips show, Dohrn's group once declared a state of war against the United States ( Watch clip here. WARNING: some strong language), and called for "revolution" and "massive social upheaval" ( Watch clip here) in what it called " AmericaKKK."
Dohrn spent most of the 1970s as a fugitive until she and Ayers turned themselves in to authorities in 1980 (See picture above). Dohrn pled guilty to charges of aggravated battery and bail jumping, receiving a $1,500 fine and three years probation.
Now Dohrn and Ayers seem poised to reenter the political stage in a big way after last night's Democratic debate in Philadelphia.
Sen. Obama has downplayed his relationship with them and has condemned their past actions. But the 1995 meeting, as well as his appearance on two panels with Ayers in 1997 and 2002, and his acceptance of a $200 donation from Ayers in 2001, may prove problematic for him as the campaign season grinds on.
Incidentally, the 2002 panel also featured Bernadine Dohrn, while the 1997 panel featuring Ayers was organized by Senator Obama's wife, Michelle.