Seven years ago, William Ayers, the Weather Underground bomber-turned-leftish education scholar, published a memoir of his criminal career and embarked upon one of the most damaging promotional tours in literary history. He sat for a profile in Chicago magazine, then stood up to dance on an American flag as a photographer clicked away. He told the New York Times that he didn’t regret setting bombs, in an interview that landed on doorsteps the morning of September 11.
Ayers’s book, a solipsistic yawner, became a bit of a sensation. The liberals who remembered what he and the Weather Underground did got understandably worked up. When Ayers arrived at a reading in Evanston, Illinois, one of those liberals confronted him about it.
“I personally spent all of 1972 working all day and all night to elect George McGovern,” the former activist said, “and I will tell you that your tactics made it harder to vote the Richard Nixons out of office.”
“I’m not going to disagree,” Ayers said, disagreeing with him. “The American people did vote, three times, to end the war. We voted for Johnson because Goldwater had his finger on the trigger… and then we voted for Nixon as the anti-war candidate, and he also escalated it. It would be a big stretch to say that the left brought McGovern down.”
WELL, NOT THAT BIG of a stretch. The Weathermen make several appearances in Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. They are the ultimate examples of left-wingers who crippled their cause with violence, overreaction, and a general need to frighten Middle Americans.
Take one example from early 1971. The U.S. Senate was responding to the Army’s scandalous abuse of spying, against such hot targets as Arlo Guthrie and Adlai Stevenson III, and civil libertarians had the upper hand. But the Weathermen had just bombed the Capitol building, giving Nebraska Republican Roman Hruska a ladder onto the moral high ground when he defended the spying.
“The people,” Hruska said, “must receive every protection possible against those elements who consider even the United States Capitol Building as a legitimate object of their violence.”
Perlstein, a man of the left who has accused George W. Bush of “stealing our democratic birthright,” is also America’s best living historian of the conservative movement.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?