Tuesday Truth Test: What Economic Troubles?

It took the stock market plummeting, and a $700 billion bailout, to get Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain look a little more presidential by doing some multi-tasking. There was a fine line between the legislating and the campaigning, but they managed to do both, for exactly one week.

Now, the candidates have gone back to their old ways – focusing on character attacks instead of the issues (as more people want to hear about these days).

This week we go on a fact-finding mission that goes back 20 years, and we put some of those ads to the test this week to find out who’s telling the truth.

We can’t do a truth test without checking out these remarks by V.P. candidate Sarah Palin. While on the campaign trail this weekend, the Republican had this to say about Obama:

“Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” — Palin, to donors Saturday at a private airport in Englewood, Colo.

“This is someone who sees America as ‘imperfect enough’ to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country.” — Palin, at a rally Monday in Clearwater, Fla.

That “former domestic terrorist” is a man named Bill Ayers. First, some history. He was part of an anti-Vietnam group that protested the war violently in America. The Weather Underground claimed responsibility for 25 bombings at government buildings. A documentary in which Ayers participated was released back in 2002. If you have an hour and a half to spare, you can watch this. Here’s the official FBI page on the group. And Time magazine posted this on its website. I even found this blog written by him talking about his past:

“I feel most regret for the intense sectarianism and then splitism that I participated in. The dogmatism, the prison of a strict set of rigid ideas, the isolation—I regret it all. I don’t regret escalating the fight against racism, white supremacy, and U.S. imperialism—still the biggest threat to a world at peace and in balance. I’m sorry we weren’t as effective as we might have been, and sorry we didn’t do more to stop the murder.”

Now, to the ties between Ayers and Obama. Palin says it was the New York Times that brought the Ayers connection to the public, not her. The Times story was published Saturday, the same day Palin mentioned it at a rally. The facts according to that article:

  • Ayers founded the Weathermen in 1969 (Obama was 8 years old)
  • Ayers and Obama’s paths first crossed in 1995, when Ayers was a university professor.
  • He hosted for Obama’s first run for office.
  • They worked together on a schools project and a charitable board.
  • They are neighbors in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

After pointing out all that, the article states:

“But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

The article also goes on to point out the apparent good deeds of Ayers in the last 2 decades. Painting him, and Obama, as domestic terrorists is beyond a stretch. It’s just not true. Plenty of other news organizations have said as much (see The Washington Post, CNN, the Associated Press, The Detroit Free Press, The Chicago Sun Times).

An Obama ad also gets waist deep in mud. Take a look:

If you don’t have time for the 14 minute ad, called “Keating Economics,” you can watch this abbreviated version or you can go to the Keating Economics website to read more about the ad.

The shortened version says:

Fraud is the creation of trust and then it’s betrayal.

Many of our fellow citizens apparently believe that your services were bought by Charles Keating.

The Keating Five were involved in all the things that have brough the modern crisis.

Senator McCain has not learned the lessons and has continued to follw policies that are going to produce a disaster.

First the history of the Keating Scandal. This article answers some basic questions about the 24-year-old scandal. It says:

  • Keating bought Lincoln Savings and Loan in 1984 for $51 million and steered its investments away from traditional home loans and into junk bonds, land speculation, foreign currency and hotels.
  • Keating used Lincoln to bankroll a multimillion-dollar salary and lavish lifestyle with investor deposits.
  • In the mid-1980s, Keating curried political favor with $1.4 million in contributions and gifts to McCain and four Democratic senators—Arizona’s Dennis DeConcini, California’s Alan Cranston, Michigan’s Donald Riegle and Ohio’s John Glenn, the former astronaut. He hoped to get the lawmakers to get the federal government to stop snooping around the troubled bank.
  • McCain’s share of the contributions from Keating and his associates totaled $112,000, and he took free flights on Keating planes.
  • In 1991, the Senate ethics committee concluded McCain exercised “poor judgment” but did nothing improper.

CNN is reporting the McCains and the Keatings were friends before the scandal. But it also says McCain did try to intervene on Keating’s behalf. Still, McCain was cleared of wrongdoing. Obama’s camp says it’s all relevant because it shows how McCain would handle the current economic crisis. If there is a candidate who can predict the future, I’d like to meet him/her. There’s a little matter of the lottery I’d like to discuss…

In all seriousness, I have to say, no matter which side you’re on, it is incredibly disappointing that these two men who have been using words like “change” and “reform” aren’t practicing what they preach. Dirty ads that mislead the public into believing the opponent is a terrorist or in the pocket of a criminal is nothing more than a distraction. I’d prefer these two men get back to the issues facing our country today. Besides, it wouldn’t surprise me if most people – not just politicians – have ties to people with questionable pasts and they don’t even know it. Here’s hoping tonight’s debate gets them back on track.

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