"I don't tend to watch television news...I have three grown sons who kind of filter those things and they sent it to me."
That's Bill Ayers, making an appearance this evening on Hardball, with Chris Matthews. Once of the Weather Underground, Ayers was more recently a central figure in the vast booga-foo nightmare that the GOP tried to paralyze the nation with to prevent the election of Barack Obama, because they didn't have any ideas or policies they wanted to talk about instead. I guess. I mean, such things could have been useful to a presidential campaign or something! Anyway, instead, we had loud braying about how Obama and Ayers might have met at some point, and Obama's failure to strike Ayers down in cold blood for his crimes was proof that they were in cahoots with one another. Or, in the parlance of Alaska Secessionists, "pallin' around."
Asked about his reaction to Palin's "palling around with terrorists remark, Ayers said: "I thought it was outrageous and profoundly dishonest, and I chose not to react to it at the time."
Ayers added, "I was on a board with President-Elect Obama, we did live in the same neighborhood, but the dishonesty of the narrative is that if you can place two people in the same room or prove that they took a bus downtown together, that they're somehow responsible for one anothers politics, policies, outlook, and behavior, and that seems to me to be patently absurd."
Matthews, along the way, talks about supposed Weather Underground targets like the Pentagon and the Capitol building having special "resonance" because they were hit on 9/11. I know, I know...unlike the Weather Underground, al Qaeda did not furnish evacuation warnings in advance of their attacks. Also, despite what Chris Matthews thinks, the Capitol Building was actually NOT ATTACKED ON 9/11.
Of those bombings, Ayers says, "I don't defend those actions...what I try to do in Fugitive Days is try to understand how this young man...in that context could find himself in these extreme positions." Lots of passive voice in the description, huh? "I think we made enormous mistakes," Ayers says, adding, "I think there were terrible things done." Ayers goes on to say he favors a sort of "truth and reconciliation" moment where everyone comes clean about what they did during the Vietnam War. Somehow I think Robert McNamara isn't going to see eye to eye with this concept.
"I don't want to defend what we did, nor do I think it was completely insane," Ayers says. Matthews remembers some demonstrations and some activism from the period, that he felt was more effective than bombing. What is it that distinguishes a protesting assemblage from a cabal of bombers? Desperation borne of solitude, perhaps. I'm tempted to say: the sort of narcissism that inspires a man to make sure the first thing he says to a TV newsman is that he doesn't watch television news.
For what it's worth, Chris Matthews' judgment was that Bill Ayers was a changed man. Make of that what you will.