Frankly I've been amazed at how little dirty smear campaigning there has been in the campaign so far, but it looks like that may be about to change as new ads and FOX news are really harping on a fairly insignificant connection between Obama and Chicago radical William Ayers. Ayers is now a professor but in the 1960s he and his current wife were founding member of the violent "Weather Underground". They served prison time for terror activities.
The New York Times has an excellent summary of the situation.
The challenge to a clear thinker in cases like this is fairly simple and involves a few key questions, none of which have to do with whether somebody met somebody, had coffee with them, talked with them, etc.
Guilt by association is often an effective tactic but it's not a legitimate reason to be concerned, and it appears that's all there is to this story.
Relevant questions and answers:
Did Obama support Ayers' activities? No, Obama was 8 years old.
Does he support Ayers' past activities now? No, nothing in Obama's record or statements or activites suggests he does, and he has stated he does not.
Has Ayers had anything that could be a significant influence on Obama's thinking? Clearly not in terms of Ayers past activities. Probably somewhat influential in terms of Ayers educational reform activities, which appear to be of a strictly non-violent nature.
The idea that a virtuous person must immediately disassociate himself from any objectionable people and ignore everything they do or say is preposterous. On the contrary, virtue and wisdom *require* these types of interactions.
Obama's very liberal voting record is legitimate territory for intelligent debate. Obama's minor association with Ayers....is not.