About that Ayers NYTimes quote…

I had it in mind to write something about this McCain quote from today:

“Look, we don’t care about an old washed-up terrorist and his wife, who still, at least on Sept. 11, 2001, said he still wanted to bomb more. That’s not the point here. The point is Sen. Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood. We know that’s just not true. We need to know the full extent of the relationship because of whether Sen. Obama is telling the truth to the American people or not. That’s the question.”

But The New Republic’s Michael Crowley has beaten me to it, and done the work of pointing out that Ayers’s quotes, published on September 11, 2001, weren’t in reaction to the attacks. The original piece was an Arts section write-up pegged to the publication of Ayers’s memoir of his Weather Underground years, that just happened to run that fateful morning. The interview clearly took place, at the latest, on September 10, and given that there was no hard news rush for the story, it likely took place earlier than that.

Here’s Crowley:

If Ayers is self-evidently loathsome enough so to call Obama’s fundamental judgment into question, surely McCain, once corrected on this point, won’t feel the need to keep stretching the facts as a way of connecting Ayers to something more emotionally salient and politically relevant than the Vietnam War.



To which I’d add only one more thing. Ayres didn’t say that he “still wanted to bomb more,” as McCain suggests. Here’s the original quote from the Times:

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Quotes are a tricky thing, and where to slip the attribution in is a matter of style. But that “Bill Ayers said” put between “I don’t regret setting bombs” and “I feel we didn’t do enough” probably means that Ayers said some other stuff, now excised, between the two phrases. And who knows what was there?

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.