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Walter Annenberg, Closet Pinko?

As conservatives work themselves into a lather over Obama and his ties to Bill Ayres Ayers through their work together on the Chicago Annenberg School Challenge, it's worth remembering that the education foundation wasn't exactly a Weather Underground front group. How could it have been given that its namesake and funder was Walter Annenberg who, as the Chicago Tribune points out, was a "friend to the GOP"? Or, as Jack Shafer wrote in an, uh, unsentimental obit of Annenberg six years ago:

President Richard Nixon rewarded Annenberg for his anti-communism and pro-Vietnam-War views by appointing him ambassador to Great Britain, where he attacked U.S. student radicals in his first speech. Ambassador Annenberg, as he thereafter preferred to be called, returned to the States and expanded both his media properties and burgeoning art collection. He also entertained the flow of human sewage that visited him at his own Xanadu, a mansion set on 250 acres (complete with its own golf course) in Palm Springs. There at "Sunnylands," he hosted the disgraced Nixon ("Life is 99 rounds," he told Dick), the detestable Frank Sinatra, and offered refuge for his political soul mate, the shah of Iran. Talk about guilt by association.

Maybe Obama's real sin here was being associated with Annenberg, not Ayres Ayers.

--Jason Zengerle