December 10, 2010
Obama's 'Missing Link'By Paul Kengor
Like many political Americans, right or left or center, I'm still grappling with what President Obama did this week. I'm trying to get a handle on what it means not so much for the country and the economy, but rather for Barack Obama.
On Monday evening came the remarkable announcement by Obama that he had compromised with Republicans on a "framework" to extend the Bush tax cuts. My take on that action was that Obama was motivated entirely by politics and not at all by ideology.
That take was quickly reinforced on Tuesday, when Obama, almost chastising his angry left-wing base for not understanding political realities, analogized Republicans to "hostage-takers," holding Obama and America and its poor and proletariat ransom to tax cuts for the bloody rich. The president bemoaned his moral dilemma, forced as he was to "negotiate" with Republicans, who kneel before what Obama described as "their Holy Grail": "tax cuts for the wealthy." It was a stunning metaphor, and rather offensive: That cup overfloweth, apparently, with the real presence of the blood of the workers, which Republicans and their loyal factory bosses and greedy landlords slurp up from the fruits of the assembly line.
"These tax cuts for the wealthy -- " said a visibly bitter Obama " -- this is, seems to be, their central economic doctrine."
Of course, it is not the Republicans' "central economic doctrine." One of the worst mistakes you can make in politics or in life or in war is to misdiagnose your adversary by allowing emotion to supersede logic.
But here's the crucial point on Obama's assessment: it was clear that this wasn't the standard class-warfare claptrap we typically get from Democrats. This wasn't mere political rhetoric to toss to the unions to make them happy at the expense of those with more money. No, Barack Obama uttered these words with such conviction and such contempt that you could tell it was from the heart. It came off not as Democrat demagoguery, but as reflective of the class-based worldview that I suspect is the core Barack Obama.
It made me think of Frank Marshall Davis and other Marxists in Obama's past -- and of a man named Dr. John Drew.
"I see myself as a missing link between Barack Obama's exposure to communism with Frank Marshall Davis and his later exposure to Bill Ayers and Alice Palmer in Chicago," Drew told me.
Drew's words -- of which these are just the tip of the iceberg -- are immensely important. To consider them, first consider this quick recap on Davis:
Frank Marshall Davis was Barack Obama's mentor in Hawaii in the 1970s, right up until Obama left for college at Occidental. As I've shown at length in articles and a book, Davis was also a communist -- in fact, an actual Communist Party member. In Dupes, I show this over the course of about sixty pages with help from numerous sources. Among them there is a 1957 U.S. Senate report, titled "Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States," which described Davis as "an indentified member of the Communist Party." Most illuminating, I found and have reprinted about a dozen pages from Davis's declassified 600-page FBI file, including one (on page 507 of my book) that lists Davis's actual Communist Party number: 47544. (Click here to view some of these documents.)
So Frank Marshall Davis was a communist, and it's clear that he influenced Obama's thinking. But how much, exactly? That's where John Drew comes in.
Drew contacted me last year after reading an article I had written on Davis and Obama for American Thinker. Drew had some significant experiences to share, and he e-mailed me just before I turned in my final manuscript. I concluded that he was legitimate (no question) and recorded his testimony at length.
Drew was a contemporary of Obama at Occidental College and a Marxist himself. In fact, Drew was a well-known campus communist when Obama was introduced to him as "one of us." "Obama was already an ardent Marxist when I met in the fall of 1980," said Drew, going on the record.
Drew is certainly cognizant of the gravity of his statement. "I know it's incendiary to say this," he adds, but Obama "was basically a Marxist-Leninist." He noted how Obama, in Dreams from My Father, stated that when he got to college, he attended "socialist conferences" and "hung out" with Marxist professors. But what Obama did not explain or clarify, says Dr. Drew, is that Obama "was in 100 percent, total agreement with these Marxist professors."
I asked Drew where, precisely, he believes Obama stands today. Of course, Drew no longer knows Obama, and his main goal in reaching out to me was to clarify where Obama stood at Occidental, which is information that cannot be ignored. That said, he did tell me this: "There are a lot of brands of Marxism. That was one of the key ingredients of my argument with the young Barack Obama. I see evidence of [a] continuing commitment to Marxist ideology every time President Obama traces the furor of the public to underlying economic conditions and inevitable changes taking place in society. In the Marxist model, the economy is the driving force behind change in the other spheres of society."
Drew shared those thoughts with me last spring. More recently, however, we had an even more illuminating conversation when I had the opportunity to interview Drew while I was guest-hosting the Glen Meakem Program, a terrific radio-talk show broadcast from Pittsburgh. Here are edited excerpts of what Drew told me on the air on October 16, 2010:
Those are excerpts from my interview with Dr. Drew in October. You can click here to listen to the interview. Moreover, Drew followed up with a short article (click here), noting his frustration over the media's refusal to even call him about Obama.
Clearly, these are important things that at least should be part of the conversation in trying to understand what our president believes and where he came from. Any historian or biographer knows: You don't ignore mentors. To the contrary, you start with the mentors.
And yet, to my knowledge, only a handful of people have interviewed John Drew or bothered with his story, including even the biggies in conservative talk radio. (Michael Savage is an exception. Also, on the web, Trevor Loudon and Scott Baker have shared his story.)
In 2007-2008, our press failed to do its job in vetting this candidate for the presidency. Our liberal "journalists" willfully covered their eyes and ears. And now they'll blast people like me for daring to even bother to investigate and consider these questions. (Actually, they don't blast; they ignore.) And we went encounter the likes of Dr. John Drew and carefully walk through his experiences, they'll dismiss us, as they are dismissing Drew himself.
That's a mistake. Drew has a lot to teach us about a critical missing piece in the puzzle of Barack Obama's early life and political-ideological development. This information would seem rather relevant, given that this is the man now running the mightiest economic engine in the history of humanity.
For the occupant of that position, I personally prefer someone who doesn't have remnants of a Marxist worldview influencing his thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, I believe we saw some of those remnants on display in Obama's words earlier this week, and not for the first -- or last -- time.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and the newly released Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.