I trust Stan entirely that Obama and Ayers were in fact close. But look: even if they weren’t that close it would hardly mean Ayers is insignificant. Anyone who understands politics understands that who a president listens to is relevant. Who will the commander-in-chief let in the room? From what direction will he take advice? Who is on his “team” and who isn’t? What’s a reasonable argument and what isn’t?
If that’s your threshold, I’d be equally worried about John McCain’s questionable associations or Sarah Palin’s attachment to the Alaska Independence Party, which evidently shares the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s low opinion of the United States. If nothing else, this standard demonstrates the fundamental hollowness of the Ayers exposé, which relies on an extremely tenuous connection to impugn Obama’s character. Public figures are inevitably exposed to all sorts of shady individuals, so unless their relationship is particularly close or there’s a quid pro quo involved, guilt by association won’t factor into my decision at the ballot box. That may be a pretty subjective standard, but until someone cogently explains how Ayers (or Wright) had a tangible effect on Obama’s political outlook, I’m not going to bother wading through the muck.