You Don't Need A Weatherman

One of Barack Obama’s most irritating tricks is the use of illogical moral equivalency in defense of the indefensible. Thus, the loony Jeremiah Wright is somehow equivalent to both Geraldine Ferraro and Obama’s own grandmother. He did it again the other night by equating “weatherman” Bill Ayers with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.

Writing in The Hill, Byron York explains:

If we’re judged by those with whom we associate, here’s a question:

Would you rather be associated with a ’60s radical who plotted to bomb the Pentagon and to this day believes, as he said a few years ago, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough,” or would you rather be associated with — slight pause, please — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)?

That was the rather bizarre scenario raised by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) at Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about Obama’s relationship with William Ayers, the unrepentant former member of the Weather Underground.

“An early organizing meeting for your state Senate campaign was held at his house, and your campaign has said you are friendly,” Stephanopoulos said to Obama. “Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won’t be a problem?”

At first Obama downplayed his connection with Ayers. “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received an official endorsement from,” Obama said. “He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis.”

Then Obama downplayed the question’s relevance. “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense.”

And then, the Coburn Card.

“The fact is that I’m also friendly with Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in the United States Senate,” Obama said, “who during his campaign once said that it might be appropriate to apply the death penalty to those who carried out abortions.

“Do I need to apologize for Mr. Coburn’s statements? Because I certainly don’t agree with those, either.”

Where to start?

Well, Coburn is ardently anti-abortion. So much so that he once said, during his 2004 Senate campaign, “I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life.”

It’s a far-out position. But note a couple of things. Coburn also said in the campaign that he realizes abortion is not, you know, against the law. And he does not support the death penalty for people who haven’t broken the law and who haven’t received due process if they have.

“I understand what the law is,” Coburn said during the 2004 campaign. “My hope would be that we would get back to a time when we recognize the value of life, and I think we’re not.”

Now, that’s still an out-there position. Coburn’s dream is not going to happen.

But wouldn’t Coburn be more comparable to Ayers if he, Coburn, had bombed abortion clinics in the past — and then said that he not only did not regret bombing the clinics but wished that he had done more? And then, after bombing abortion clinics and refusing to express regret, he held a political event in his home for Barack Obama, which Obama attended?

And if all that had happened, would Obama say it wasn’t a problem because Coburn had bombed those clinics a long time ago, when Obama was just 8 years old?

Do you believe that would endear Obama to voters in the Democratic primaries?

As it was, Obama used his Senate colleague Coburn to suggest that the issue was not one of violence, and radicalism, and lawbreaking, but rather a simple disagreement: Sen. Coburn and I disagree on some things, and yet we’re still friendly. Bill Ayers and I disagree on some things, and yet we’re still friendly. So what’s the problem?

Click here for more on moral equivalency and double standards.

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