Bill Ayers, Charles Keating: Same Thing?

Michael Cooper sniffs at McCain's attack on domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and brings up...Charles Keating?: "Mr. McCain is not without his own questionable associations."

In Saturday's "Attacking Obama's Associations," reporter Michael Cooper reviewed a John McCain campaign ad emphasizing Barack Obama's ties to controversial Chicago political figures radical Bill Ayers and the felonious fundraiser Tony Rezko. He wasn't impressed, which is no surprise from the McCain-mocking Cooper. But did the reporter really compare domestic terrorist Bill Ayers to shady financier Charles Keating? Why yes, yes he did.

But first, Cooper confidently claimed that

"-the effort to tie Mr. Obama to Mr. Ayers is overstated. Mr. Ayers, who is now an education professor in Chicago,did host a coffee for Mr. Obama's first run for office, and serve with him on a charitable board, but the two men do not appear to have been close, and Mr. Obama does not appear to have expressed sympathy for Mr. Ayers's past radical actions."

"Do not appear to have been close" is a familiar phrase to Times readers. And is "radical action" a strong enough phrase for planting a bomb in the Pentagon?

Cooper saved the worst for last when he compared the terrorist Ayers to financier Charles Keating.

SCORECARD With Mr. McCain and Republicans slipping in the polls as the economic crisis spreads, they have begun to attack Mr. Obama's character in the hope of, as one McCain adviser put it, "turning the page on the financial crisis." But such a tactic carries its own risks because Mr. McCain is not without his own questionable associations. As a member of the Keating Five in the 1980s, he was rebuked by the Senate for "poor judgment" after he met with regulators investigating one of his major political donors, Charles H. Keating Jr., who later went to prison after his savings and loan collapsed, at great cost to taxpayers. There is also the risk that such attacks will be seen as petty at a time of a national economic crisis.

Cooper also ignored what his own paper admitted in 1999 - thatas the only Republican involved in the Keating Five, Senate Democratswere not about to let him off the hook.