Stanley, of course, has done singularly vital investigative work on Obama's background — you should check out his NRO archive, here, as well as important articles he's recently written in the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal (see. e.g., here, here and here). But Hugh's interview is a real primer for those who haven't delved into it much. It also spotlights an important point that has largely been missed. That is, while there has been focus on the Obama/Ayers tie and the Obama/Khalidi tie, no real attention has been paid to the Ayers/Khalidi tie — which is very strong and tightens the circle significantly.
Specifically, Hugh asked about the strands of the Ayers/Obama connection. After Stanley recounted them in detail, he added this:
SK: Now if you lived just a few blocks away from someone, and you've been on a foundation together, and at least in the first year, you were on the board together, and then you're on a panel together, when you run into each other, what are you going to be talking about? Here's something I also haven't mentioned. Rashid Khalidi and Bill Ayers were practically best friends. People don't know this, and I'm actually saying this for the first time. I haven't written about this. They were best friends, and we know that Obama had interactions with Khalidi, that Khalidi had held the coffee that kicked off his Congressional campaign, I believe. And Ayers and Khalidi were extremely close if you look at the acknowledgements in their books.
HH: Tell us about Khalidi. Tell us who he is and his role in Obama's life.
SK: Rashid Khalidi is really, in a sense, the American successor of Edward Said, a very strong advocate for the Palestinians, extremely radical in his views and his opposition to American foreign policy. He was a friend and colleague of Obama. Apparently they used to get together and discuss world affairs. And he's practically the best friend of Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers features Khalidi in some of his books about how to politicize the teaching for students. So actually, the more you look into it, the more you see that this is not just people running into each other. And again, I object to the idea of just simply counting the times people were together in a room. When you fund Bill Ayers education projects, with hundreds of thousands of dollars, when you as Bill Ayers publish Rashid Khalidi's essay in your book of collected essays, they might have gone on. That's a lot without meeting once.
* * *
HH: So Stanley Kurtz, Rashid Khalidi, very close to Barack Obama, read during the break that Khalidi had a farewell dinner in 2003 that Obama was one of the presenters at, and in those remarks, alluded to the numerous dinners he'd had at the home of the Khalidi's.
HH: It simply defies imagination to think that Khalidi was not a bridge between Ayers, that this is not an operating subgroup of Hyde Park, doesn't it?
SK: Right. I mean, that's what it seems like when you look, when you read these acknowledgements back and forth between Khalidi and Ayers of how close they are as friends, and you see that Khalidi had dinners at Obama, it really, to think…and then that Khalidi hosted something to kick off Obama's Congressional campaign, you've got to think that Ayers and Khalidi are both talking about Obama, because they're so close. And you've go to think that…it begins to look like a pretty tight network. You know, you can only show what's actually in the papers, and what are in the documents as far as the number of meetings and everything else. But it sure looks a lot tighter than what we can absolutely see. It looks like a lot more. But it's hard to show for sure, just like people, I think rightly assume that Barack Obama had to have known a lot more about what Jeremiah Wright was saying all those years than he's letting on.
ME: Again, these people were drawn to each other because they shared a revolutionary, anti-American ideology — these were not guys who just happened to know each other from the Hyde Park softball league.
Stanley is ever the meticulous scholar — which is why it's so hysterical to read Obamaphiles try to paint him as a right-wing hack. He will go only as far as the hard evidence takes him, so, without speculating on where or when the Ayers/Obama relationship actually began, he deals with what we know for certain, which is that they had enough of a relationship to strike a significant business partnership in 1995.
As readers may recall, I think the relationship traces back years before 1995 — possibly in the Morningside Heights area in the early 80s (when Ayers had just come out of hiding and Obama was at Columbia ... years Obama refuses to discuss), and was almost certainly in place by the late 1980s in Chicago (when Obama and Ayers were both working on education reform and their wives were working at the same law firm). I've laid out my theory (which relies in part on common connections like Khalidi and Edward Said) in this article, called "Why Won't Obama Talk About Columbia?"