In 1996, Dems Were 'Proud to be Associated with' Ayers and Dohrn

October 12th, 2008 11:23 AM

AyersDohrn1982.jpgOn August 27, 1996, in the midst of that year's Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune had interesting news (posted in full at my web host for fair use and discussion purposes) about what was then a new Internet initiative.

That Tribune story serves to confirm why the distancing from and supposed ignorance of the past activities of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn by presidential candidate Barack Obama and other members of the Democratic Party ring very hollow.

James Coates's Tribune piece begins with an all-too-typical whitewash of the pair's violent past. But what's revealing is what Ayers and Dohrn were involved with, and who else was involved with them (bolds are mine):

Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers took to the streets 28 years ago to protest what they considered the injustices in the world, especially the war in Vietnam.

The former leaders of the Weather Underground still are fighting injustice, but--adapting to the changing landscape of American politics--their current arena is the World Wide Web.

After Dohrn, who wound up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and Ayers resolved their legal woes, they wound up, together, in the Chicago area.

They work in social programs--she at Northwestern University and he at the University of Illinois at Chicago--and today enjoy the status of folk heroes in leftist circles. And they have discovered the Internet as a medium for social change.

..... Tuesday night, Dohrn and Ayers will open their home in Hyde Park to debut an ideologically oriented site on the World Wide Web, where the whole skein of 1996's protest movements are within the click of a computer mouse for all who call it up at

The invitation reads "The Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party hasn't gone underground .... We're on the Internet!"

Dohrn and Ayers did not respond to requests to discuss the Web site plans, which also involve more mainstream Democrats, including David Lytel, who set up President Clinton's Web site at

"There is a lot of room for different ideas in progressive politics, and we're proud to be associated with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers," said Lytel.

An Internet Archive search indicates that domain was active until late 1996, went dormant, and was revived in early 2000. The first re-appearance of meaningful content occurred in August 2000.

The site's revival was co-engineered by Mr. "proud to be associated with Dohrn and Ayers" himself, David Lytel, as shown at's current "About" page: is an independent community of Democratic Party and progressive activists. We proudly support the Democratic National Committee ( and its chairman Howard Dean, but they do not control us in any way. was launched at the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles by two veteran Democratic consultants Bob Fertik and David Lytel. (Lytel left at the end of 2002 to launch

Our vision was to create the leading news and community Web site for the progressive base of the Democratic Party, in order to lead the fight against the radical right and the Republican Party. We called ourselves the "Aggressive Progressives."

The site's History page also notes no pre-2000 activity.

How convenient that conceals its true origins.

A 2003 version of the "About" page indicates that Mr. Lytel and others weren't mere web-savvy iconoclasts, but were (and perhaps still are) actively involved in Democratic political campaigns: was founded by two veteran Democrats, David Lytel and Bob Fertik.  We operate the premier online community site for Democratic voters and activists, and create and implement effective Internet campaign services for Democratic campaigns and committees.

We draw on the expertise of talented and committed Democrats in the Internet community, giving us a unique combination of partisan dedication, technical expertise and energetic commitment to innovation.

The site even had its own Director of Candidate Services.

Scroll down that 2003 "About" page, and you see what appears to be a list of mainstream Democratic luminaries.

The Tribune piece demonstrates that for all these years a large plurality, if not a majority, of Democrats who hold the levers of power, up to and including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, really haven't had a problem welcoming Ayers, Dohrn, and their unrepentant views of their violent pasts, capsulized in this infamous September 11, 2001 article about Ayers in the New York Times, into their inner circle. So it shouldn't be all that surprising that Barack Obama didn't see any problem either, until people outside the fever swamp of so-called "progressive" thought called him on it.

It's safe to say that most of the rest of the country doesn't share the forgiving view apparently held by so many powerful Democrats of someone (Ayers) who said of his domestic terrorism: "I don't regret setting bombs ..... I feel we didn't do enough." When asked if he would do it all again, he replied, ''I don't want to discount the possibility."

It's also safe to say that the degree of sympathy and support Ayers and Dohrn have within Democratic circles -- in some cases, as noted above, being seen as "folk heroes" -- has been furiously downplayed by the media elite, many of whom, like the Tribune's Coates in 1996, seem to have similar leanings.

If they were to be installed as members of an Obama administration, it's legitimate to ask what those who have been okay with the "mainstreaming" of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn all these years would do with their newfound powers. Will they want to "do it all again" -- this time as de facto oppressors? And would a President Obama simply let them run rampant over those whom they disagree with or dislike?

Cross-posted at