When Barry met Billy

I am much less interested in the recycled National Enquirer report of an Obama tryst with a mistress than I am with the question of when Barack Obama first met William Ayers. The estimable Ed Morrissey of Hot Air previews a new book that claims to have uncovered evidence that the two men met far earlier than the campaign's claimed date of 1995. Ed quotes the book's co-author Aaron Klein:

In just one of the revelations in this politically radioactive release, the book uncovers for the first time where and how Obama first met Weatherman founder Bill Ayers - and it is much earlier than previously believed.

In his 1995 autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Obama writes about a speech given during his college years in connection with Students for Economic Democracy. SED was a campus group affiliated with Tom Hayden, one of the principal organizers of Students for a Democratic Society, the 1960s antiwar movement from which Ayers' Weatherman splintered.

The book ties Obama to a number of other radicals who were associated with SED's parent group, whose founding members included fellow antiwar protesters, a politician known to be a communist collaborator, and a founding member of the Black Panthers.

Tom Maguire of Just One Minute, one of the sharpest Obama skeptics of all, writes:

And my guess as to when they met?  1988 seems like easy money - per "Dreams From My Father", Obama was working on a city-wide push for education reform as part of a coalition coordinated by Bill Ayers.  Per this hypothesis, Ayers then resumes his collaboration with Obama in 1995 on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

But Steve Diamond wants to go even further back:

Barack Obama visited the house of Tom and Mary Ayers, parents of former Weather Underground activist turned education professor Bill Ayers, in the mid-1980s to thank the Ayers' for their support of his education, according to Allen Hulton, the letter carrier who delivered mail to the Ayers' Glen Ellyn home at that time. Glen Ellyn is a suburb of Chicago, southwest of the city.

Hulton spoke to King Harvest at length about his experience. The statement by Hulton is the first eyewitness account of a possible relationship between Obama and Tom Ayers and the first that dates his relationship with the Ayers family to the mid-1980s.

The postman always rings twice, and apparently was chatty with the missus:

"Mrs. Ayers told me that her family had been helping out a brilliant young black man," Hulton said and whom he believes she said was from Kenya. Hulton said that over the period of six to ten years that he delivered mail to the Ayers home he had numerous conversations with Mrs. Ayers, one conversation with Thomas Ayers and several brief encounters with Bernardine Dohrn who he said lived at the home for several months at one point in time. He never met or saw Bill Ayers at the home.

As to the encounter:

As Hulton was on the sidewalk walking away from the Ayers house a tall and thin young black man was coming up the same sidewalk towards the Ayers house.

Hulton recalls that Obama said hello and introduced himself and stopped to chat with him in front of the Ayers house. "I recall that his ears stuck out a little bit. He was more gaunt then than he appears now. His name was an unusual one and when I saw his photo during the campaign it brought back my memory of the event," Hulton said.

Mr. Obama explained that he had taken the train out from Chicago to visit the Ayers' in order to thank them for their help with his "education." At this time, Mr. Obama had recently graduated from Columbia and would soon enter Harvard Law School. Hulton and Obama "spoke for a few minutes, first chatting about the Ayers family," Hulton said. Hulton said he did not learn whether the help Obama received from the Ayers' was financial or in some other form.

Steve Diamond earned my deep respect during the presidential campaign for his thorough research into the origins and operations of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. He is a man of the left, but first and foremost, an honest scholar.

When you have as many areas of your life deliberately obscured as Obama does, there is always the chance of being caught in a major lie.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman