On December 21, 1997, Barack Obama wrote a short review of William Ayers’ book A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, which had recently been published by Beacon Press. Here’s a photo of how the review appeared in the Chicago Tribune:
(Bloggers, journalists and media members are all free to re-post this image with no restrictions. If you would like a hi-resolution version, right-click or control-click here.)
Obama’s review of Ayers’ book says, “A searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”
I had seen mentions of the existence of this review in a very few media outlets, including CNN, National Review, American Spectator, and a handful of others. But because the review was published before the Chicago Tribune began digitizing and archiving its articles online, there was no direct Web link to the review itself — only citations of it. So, out of curiosity, I took it upon myself to visit a library in San Francisco, and using the library’s Lexis-Nexis access and its archive of microfilm versions of major newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, I finally tracked down a copy of the actual review itself.
Turns out the review was very short — what I had thought (from reading the citations in the online articles) were just short quotes from it was in fact the entirety of the review. But it was accompanied by a photo of Obama, standing by his statement. The review was part of a column called “Mark My Word,” in which Chicago notables praise their favorite current books.
Just a few weeks before this review was published in the Chicago Tribune, Obama and Ayers appeared together on a panel about juvenile justice organized by Michelle Obama on November 20, 1997:
Children who kill are called “super predators,” “people with no conscience,” “feral pre-social beings” — and “adults.”
William Ayers, author of A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press, 1997), says “We should call a child a child. A 13-year-old who picks up a gun isn’t suddenly an adult. We have to ask other questions: How did he get the gun? Where did it come from?”
Ayers, who spent a year observing the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, is one of four panelists who will speak on juvenile justice at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the C-Shop. The panel, which marks the 100th anniversary of the juvenile justice system in the United States, is part of the Community Service Center’s monthly discussion series on issues affecting the city of Chicago. The event is free and open to the public.
Ayers will be joined by Sen. Barack Obama, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, who is working to combat legislation that would put more juvenile offenders into the adult system; Randolph Stone, Director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic; Alex Correa, a reformed juvenile offender who spent seven years in Cook County Temporary Detention Center; Frank Tobin, a former priest and teacher at the Detention Center who helped Correa; and Willy Baldwin, who grew up in public housing and is currently a teacher at the Detention Center.
I find it very hard — no, make that impossible — to believe that Barack Obama had “no idea” who William Ayers really was, or that he had a past as a notorious domestic terrorist (as Obama’s campaign has claimed) while serving on panels with Ayers and simultaneously praising Ayers’ book in a major newspaper.
This story is likely to continue growing, and I thought that the image above would provide a good “visual” for the Obama-Ayers connection.
[UPDATE: On page 82 of the book itself, Ayers mentions Obama. So there's no question they knew each other.]
The following images are pretty much unnecessary; yet because of the intense nature of this campaign, and because every single tidbit of news is dissected, analyzed, doubted and challenged, I am posting these pictures to prove beyond any doubt that the photo of the Obama-Ayers review shown above is authentic, and not some Photoshop hoax, as I’m quite sure Obama’s defenders would claim if I didn’t pre-emptively debunk their accusations.
Feel free to ignore this section unless you’re interested in seeing “proof” that the review is real.
This shows the entirety of page 5 of the Chicago Review book section on December 21, 1997. Obama’s review is visible at the lower left. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)
This shows the date and page number at the top of the page, confirming it really is from the Chicago Tribune on December 21, 1997. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)
This picture shows the microfilm image in situ on the microfilm machine itself, proving it’s a physical artifact, not a digital Photoshop creation. (Hi-res version of this photo here.) Note also that the review directly above Obama’s review is of a book about domestic terrorists and bombers. Oh, the irony!
And this is a screenshot of the Lexis-Nexis listing on the library’s computer, proving that the review is part of the official digital archives. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)