Well, the Bill Ayers thing seems to be the latest "hair on fire" tactic by the McCain camp. The Guilt By Association game is an easy way to communicate to low information voters (and to gin up the base). However, I think there's an effective push-back to this that will help people realize that Guilt By Association was not a fair tactic during the McCarthy era, and it isn't fair now.
I wrote a diary on this back in April. If I may have the indulgence of the dKos community, I will reprise it here.
The point of this exercise is this: Obama was on a charity board with Ayers; but there were other people on that board too. If you are somehow slimed by your "associations" then it is fair to see who the other members of the board were and then ask whether they were also slimed or influenced by their association with Ayers (or whether Ayers was possibly influenced by his association with them). Obama certainly had thousands of "associations" during those years. McCain wants us to focus only on (one or two), Ayers, Rezko, etc., and to ignore the impact of all of the other associations.
So...without further ado, let's play the GBA game...
Let's Play the GBA Game!
Welcome to the new game/reality show, ***GBA***, where sinister associations are exposed and explored for fun and profit.
Once again we'll engage in the fascinating past time of exploring random links between famous people and their "associates." Come join us for tonights GBAfest.
Bob: Johnny...whose past associations do we look at tonight?
Johnny: Well, Bob, tonight we're going to examine the associations of William Ayers.
Bob: William Ayers? Isn't he that radical that got into so much trouble back in the 60's?
Johnny: Right you are, Bob. And tonight we take him, and his friends, apart!
Johnny: We've been doing a little digging into Mr. Ayer's associations and find that he is presently serving on the Board of a dark and forbidding organization called THE WOODS FUND.
Let's look at the current Board for the Woods Fund, and just see where this goes.
Here's the members of the Board, Bob:
Laura S. Washington, Board Chair*
Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor and Fellow of the DePaul Humanities Center
Jesus G. Garcia, Vice Chair*
Executive Director, Little Village Community Development Corporation
William C. Ayers
Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago
Director of Media and Governmental Affairs, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLP
Doris Salomon Chagin
Category Manager - Ethnic Markets, BP Products North America
Beth E. Richie
Professor and Head of the Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Patrick M. Sheahan
Executive Director, Public Affairs, UBS Investment Bank
Charles N. Wheatley
President, Sahara Enterprises, Inc.
Lucia Woods Lindley
Board Member Emeritus
Johnny: Snuggled conspiratorially in this tight knit group of radical crazys, you'll see the name of one "William C. Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago."
Bob: That's our boy!
Johnny: Right you are, Bob.
Bob: Let's explore what connections we can make, and what we can guess about people's "character."
Johnny: Yeah. Let's jump right into our "Who Slimes Who" segment. So, Bob, based on what we know about this little cell of miscreants, can you tell me whose character rubbed off on who here? In other words, Who Slimes Who?
Bob: Man...this is a tough one Johnny.
Johnny: I know, Bob...take your time.
Bob: OK. Hey, I notice that one of the Board members is a Mr. Shehan of UBS Investment Bank.
Johnny: And where does that lead you, Bob?
Bob: Uh...let me think. OK. I've got it. William Ayers is a closet investment banker!!!! Yeah, that's it. All of William Ayers' radical talk and explosive past simply can't be trusted any more. He is associating with bankers! Now, I'm not saying he's a banker himself, Johnny, but...
Johnny: ...well, you don't have to, do you. That's the fun of the GBA game. You don't really have to reach conclusions! You only have to make the connections. Anything else Bob?
Bob: Who Slimed Who??? Who Slimed Who??? OK...I also see the name of a marketing manager at BP Products North America. She's on the Board too!!!
Johnny: OK, Bob...Who Slimed Who?
Bob: This is a tough one, Johnny. I don't know. It could go a couple of ways. Let's see. BP Products is a large, multinational energy company. They have an office near Chicago. If I were taking a wild guess here, I'd guess that BP Products is on the Board so that they can give something back to the Chicago community and help...
Johnny: Bob! Bob! Hey, slow down man. Remember the name of this segment: Who SLIMED Who.
Bob: Sorry, Johnny, What was I thinking? Let me try again. OK. I think I have it this time. BP Products is on the Board with Ayers because...well, because they're all a bunch of secret 60's radicals wanting to take over our goverment by force and kill innocent babies in their beds!!!
Johnny: Slow down again, Bob. Remember, we want to make associations here that merely "raise questions" in peoples minds. We aren't here to draw conclusions.
Johnny: Well, Bob, because if we actually state out loud the conclusions that we want everyone to reach, then they will sound so absurd that no one will believe them.
Bob: And then the Slime won't stick, will it?
Johnny: That's right Bob.
Bob: Then, let me try again. "We would like to point out that BP Products is on the Woods Fund Board with William Ayers, avowed and unrepentent 60's radical. I think we need to explore further the relationship between this multinational energy company and the radical Ayers. We know so little about BP Products, and I think we need to dig past their sunny logo and see just how much they have been influenced by..."
Johnny: Now you're getting it Bob.
Bob: Man, this is fun! And we're just getting started!!! Look, we still get to Slime...I mean, "Question," why an old line Chicago engineering firm, and all of these "educators" are on the Board with Ayers.
Johnny: That'll have to wait for next week Bob. We're out of time. But tune in next week for a special edition of Guilt By Association called What the Senator Missed, where we will re-hash the McCarthy Hearings and make new and exciting connections, using social contacts to ruin lives retroactively.
Bob: Sounds like great fun, Johnny. And a reminder to all of our viewers to be sure and order their GBA Decoder Rings!
Johnny: And remember, folks, WATCH THOSE ASSOCIATIONS - CULL OUT AND DENOUNCE THOSE FRIENDS NOW...BECAUSE YOU COULD BE THE NEXT GUEST ON GUILT BY ASSOCIATION!!!