Barack Obama, William Ayers & The Annenberg Challenge

In the prologue to his second book Barack Obama wrote what would become the conceptual nucleus of his Presidential campaign.

…I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.

Obama organized his Presidential campaign around this blank screen concept. The campaign is a cult of personality drawing in millions of fans with huge audience events where he delivers soaring but largely meaningless rhetoric about “change.” Each fan is subliminally encouraged to project onto the blank screen his/her own notions of what change would be desirable.

Obama presented himself as the ultimate statesman whose messianic presence would “bring America together for change,” without encountering dissent or partisan acrimony. People whose visions of change were vague, purely emotional, impossible to implement, Unconstitutional, or different from the vision of the person next to them, all stood together cheering for the rock-star candidate, each believing he would deliver whatever change they desired.

But some Americans, those who live in Chicago and have watched Obama climb the ranks of the local, corrupt, Democratic machine, have known all along that the Obama campaign was a fraud. The Obama they know is a hard-ball politician from the radical left, with unsavory and corrupt associations.

This photo of one of Barrack Obama’s associates, William Ayers is from a 2001 Chicago Magazine profile. In 2001, Ayers admitted that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972. His only regret, expressed in 2001, was that he had not succeeded with other bomb plots.

This photo wasn’t a candid shot of an unintended accident. Mr. Ayers posed for this photo. He wanted readers to see him standing on the wadded up American flag. Ayers and his convicted terrorist wife, Bernardine Dohrn, are folk heroes to the far left.

Several months ago, the Obama campaign persuaded some of the national media herd to report that Obama had no significant connection with Ayers, who was just a neighbor, a guy who did some bad things decades ago that Obama dennounced. But Chicago newspapers and local talk radio have persisted in turning over Ayers-Obama rocks, and Chicago residents know better.

Recently, a blog from the political Left, Global Labor and Politics, and Reporter Stanley Kurtz of National Review have begun to uncover information on one of Mr. Ayers more recent projects, The Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a privately funded effort to improve Chicago schools. Mr. Ayers appointed Barack Obama Chairman of the Board of Annenberg Challenge, a position he held from 1995 to 1999.

This Obama experience is important because:

  1. It is further evidence that Obama and his campaign attempted to deceive us with claims that Ayers is not an Obama associate and was nothing more than a guy who happened to live in the neighborhood. Records of Annenberg Challenge meetings and activities show Obama and Ayers interacting regularly for several years.
  2. The Annenberg Challenge was a failure. It spent hundreds of millions of dollars and achieved nothing, reflecting negatively on Barack Obama’s self proclaimed talent for making wonderful things happen, just by “bringing people together.”
  3. The funding mechanism for the Annenberg Challenge was convoluted and full of loopholes through which funds could have been funneled to causes other than school improvement and even to benefit individuals.
  4. The Annenberg Challenge experience has been omitted from fawning, national media biographies of Senator Obama.

Here is an excerpt from one of several reports that are available at the University of Illinois at Chicago website about the Annenberg Challenge:

Its primary strategy was to create networks of schools with common interests and needs and to link them to individuals and organizations that would serve as External Partners. This strategy followed a logic that schools would find more direction and support for improvement if they worked together and with an External Partner than if they worked alone.

The organizations that became “External Partners” served as funding agents of Annenberg grants. Each External Partner had three or more schools in its “network.” Annenberg gave cash grants to the External Partners who then distributed funds to schools.

Here’s another excerpt from one of the Annenberg reports:

It is difficult without detailed analysis of network budgets to determine how much money was used by External Partners to cover their own costs, to purchase goods and services for schools, or to give directly to schools. Initial budget requirements set by the Challenge limited partners to spend only 10 percent of any total grant to cover their own expenses. Later, however, the challenged recognized that some partners required more money to be effective and it altered this requirement to permit larger percentages of grants to be used by partners to cover their own expenses.

Finally, this excerpt describing the results of this huge program, led by Barack Obama:

Achievement trends in Annenberg schools did not differ from those in demographically similiar non-Annenberg schools. there were no statistically significant differences in reading or math at any grade level in any year between 1995 and 2001. Although Annenberg schools appeared to outperform non-Annenberg schools in some years at particular grade levels, the reverse appeared to occur in other years. None of those differences were statistically significant.

Yesterday, Obama attempted, yet again, to deny his Ayers association with this TV ad. This is another, obvious attempt to deceive the viewer by focusing on Ayers’ earliest crimes, committed when Obama was a child. The ad fails to reveal that Ayers does not regret his crimes, is still a radical leftist, and has been a recent political mentor to and associate of Barack Obama.

3 Comments so far

  1. aaa again on August 27th, 2008

    The facts presented in BoomerJeff’s note are absolutely correct. Further, the context is also absolutely correct. (More even handed, I might add, than John McCain’s commercial on the subject, in which Ayers is described as Obama’s “friend.” Ayers and Obama may or may not be friends – we do not know – but there is no denying they were close business associates for a number of years. And we know Ayers hosted the initial fundraiser for Obama’s Senate run.)

    Ayers is widely known as an advocate of far from mainstream approaches to education. This project was his baby, and he chose Obama to lead it. There are three relevant points on this issue:

    Performance
    As an executive, how did Obama do? Well, $200MM later, by their own admission there is “no statistical difference” between Annenberg and non-Annenberg schools. He did not do well. Were those funds spent wisely?

    Honesty
    Has Obama been genuine in describing his relationship with Ayers? Simple: No. In fact the campaign has been blatently devious in their characterization. Somehow I just don’t believe a guy with no more standing than “he’s a neighbor” wouldn’t host a political fundraiser for me in his home, or appoint me to run his pet $200MM project.

    Character and Judgement
    Why was Obama working for an admitted, and unrepentant, terrorist? An interest in education improvement is certainly a noble endeavor, but most people draw the line at working with the criminal element, certainly when those criminals only explanation of themselves is “we didn’t do enough.”

    The nation deserves an explanation from Obama. The flimsy explanation about Obama being 8 years old when Ayers was bombing away is plainly a dishonest dodge. If Obama has conviction in his actions and decisions, he ought to explain that in clear terms.

    After all, if it came to light that John McCain had been appointed by a white supremicist to chair a “community outreach” project, wouldn’t we want to understand the makings of that decision?

  2. Conservative_American on August 27th, 2008

    I wonder how much of that $200M could have been funneled into various coffers to be used at a later date to support a political campaign that miraculously generates millions in dontations?

    Obama was created to run for president. Getting into the Illinois Senate was easy since that is their back yard. I think the biggest unknown was getting him into the U.S. Senate and that ended up being a joke. However, the Senate was just a stepping stool to gain legitimacy for a presidential campaign.

    I wonder if there are any connections between campaign contributors and recipients of these various grants. Furthermore, are there any connection between the grant recipients and Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and Ted Kennedy since they were instrumental in freezing out Hillary.

  3. theclassiclib on August 27th, 2008

    And the media herd can’t figure out why their revenues keep dropping … Hmmmmm …

    Without bloggers like you, nobody would even know about any of this at all!

    Obama is a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and he has significant ties, direct associations, with anti-American radicals, and terrorists who’ve bombed our nation.

    If the media herd had even done half the job their customers expect, outside of Chicago, nobody would even know Obama’s name.