In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article entitled “Obama’s Fishy Associations,” nationally-syndicated columnist Jack Kelly asks, “Who is Barack Obama?” and wonders why more hasn’t been done to vet the young man who wants to be the leader of the free world.

Both sides of the political spectrum — especially in the blogosphere — have a tendency to find the worst in the opposition’s candidate.  Sometimes, those “findings” and accusations veer off into conspiracy theories and even the realm of the ridiculous.  Barack Obama is not a secret Muslim that wants to bring about a world caliphate.  Those kinds of extreme accusations give the Obama and the Democrats cover to dismiss any and all allegations of wrongdoing in Obama’s past.  If even a fraction of the more plausible accusations are true, the American public should have serious reservations about sending Barack Obama to the White House.  Below are key excerpts from Jack Kelly’s article:

“Who is Barack Obama? Is he the thoughtful, moderate guy he’s appeared to be in the first two presidential debates? Or is he a closet radical? The election is less than a month away, and we still don’t know.

the relationship between Sen. Obama and Mr. Ayers is much closer than Sen. Obama has so far acknowledged. Sen. Obama’s first campaign for the Illinois Senate began in Mr. Ayers’ living room, and in 1995 Mr. Ayers was instrumental in the selection of Mr. Obama, then a junior attorney at a second-tier law firm, as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an education ‘reform’ project that spent $110 million to no apparent effect, other than providing employment to otherwise unemployable radicals.

The relationship may have begun sooner and been closer. Mr. Ayers was in graduate school at Columbia University when Barack Obama was an undergraduate there in the early 1980s. Did they meet then? A few years later, Michelle Obama and Mr. Ayers’ wife, Bernadine Dohrn, also a former terrorist, worked at the same time for the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin.

Investigative reporter Jack Cashill has noted some intriguing coincidences between Sen. Obama’s 1995 autobiography, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ and Mr. Ayers’ 2001 book, ‘Fugitive Days,’ for which Sen. Obama wrote a dust-jacket blurb.

In ‘Dreams From My Father,’ Mr. Obama writes fondly of ‘Frank,’ a mentor while he was growing up in Hawaii. ‘Frank’ was Frank Marshall Davis, a member of the Communist Party USA, and who was on the FBI’s list of subversives.

Both Sen. Obama and Mr. Ayers spoke at a testimonial dinner for Rashid Khalidi, a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a founder of the rabidly anti-Israel Arab American Action Network, when Mr. Khalidi left the University of Chicago for Columbia University.

‘Khalidi and Obama lived in nearby faculty residential zones and the two families dined together a number of times,’ a source on the University of Chicago faculty told Worldnet Daily. ‘The Obamas even babysat the Khalidi children.’

In his 1996 campaign for the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama sought and received the endorsement of the New Party, a creation of the Democratic Socialists of America that was so far to the left even the Green Party described it as fringe. Then there is Sen. Obama’s relationship to ACORN (Alliance of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a radical group under investigation for fraudulent voter registrations in a dozen states. Mr. Obama worked with ACORN as a community organizer, and served for a time as its lawyer in Chicago.

Finally, there is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who Sen. Obama described as a father figure, and to whose racist, anti-American sermons he listened to for 20 years.”

It is possible that some or all of these associations are benign, but they still must ALL be investigated. With less than a month until the November 4 election, the questions must be asked over and over and over again until Barack Obama comes clean. Obama may decide to throw everyone under the bus and declare, “that’s not the person I knew,” but how many times will the American public accept that excuse? How many lapses in Obama’s judgment are enough to disqualify him from the highest office in the land?

Barack Obama has a couple of similarities to former Democratic candidate Gary Hart. Walter Mondale asked of Hart, “where’s the beef?” and the American public should be asking the same of Obama. Unlike Hart, whose personal life derailed his candidacy, Obama seems to be getting away with his past… so far. Can Obama stand up to real scrutiny? Will the media actually do its job and challenge all who seek power? Once the truth comes out about Obama’s past, can the American public trust him to lead?