|Young Obama in 1981 during |
his first year at Columbia University.
What would you do if you knew the top Democrat running for president was lying about his past?
That is the question I was faced with in 2008. I had met the young Barack Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College, and I knew that his commitment to socialism was deep, genuine and long-standing.
I had been a leader of the Marxist students at Occidental College myself starting in 1976 when I founded the precursor of the Democrat Socialist Alliance on campus. The young Obama I knew was a Marxist socialist who would have been quite comfortable with Communist party members like his Hawaii mentor Frank Marshall Davis, retired domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers, or active socialist politicians like Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer.
The Obama I knew was nothing like the life-long, pragmatic centrist that he was pretending to be in the 2008 presidential campaign. When I talked politics with the young Obama, he expressed a profound commitment to bringing about a socialist economic system in the U.S. – completely divorced from the profit motive – which would occur, in his lifetime, through a potentially violent, Communist-style revolution. In this context, I saw my report on young Obama as a key piece of evidence suggesting a profound continuity in his belief system.
Although I was surprised by Barack Obama’s insistence on his mainstream ideological credentials, I was shocked that my attempts to spread the news about young Obama’s Marxism failed to gain any media traction during the 2008 presidential campaign with reporters, activists, or campaign staffs.
Once I saw the significance of my face-to-face observations on the young Obama, I went out of my way to get my story on record with the Orange County Register. I tried to contact, among others, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the folks behind the Swift Boat ads, and the McCain campaign.
I thought I would get a phone call back from Fox News - someone, somewhere – and I still do not understand why no one seemed to catch on to the urgency of the situation. I understand I did not have audio tape of young Obama. I did not have any photos or home movies. Nevertheless, I was extremely active in the leftist politics and counter cultural milieu of Occidental College in the 1970s.
As a younger man, I had earned a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell which, I would think, gave me some credibility in measuring young Obama’s ideological convictions. I quickly saw other people who had known the young Obama were featured in various news articles. It seemed to me I should have been just another interview for any journalist, producer or campaign consultant interested in checking out my story and testing it against the facts.
In frustration, I was also posting what I knew on The Caucus Blog site at the New York Times. My expectation was someone from the Times would call me and follow-up on the leads I was sending out. Here is a sample of what I was doing in October 2008 to get the word out about Obama’s Marxist ideology.
I even thought of scheduling my own press conference on the campus of Occidental College through their campus Republican club. Internally, I was conflicted by the urgency of what I knew and the sense it was best for the story to break out in a manner supportive of the McCain campaign.
What shocked me about my experience in the summer of 2008 is that I thought my background as a Williams College political science professor, as a small business owner, and as a visible presence in the Orange County community would allow my message to immediately go to the very top of the McCain campaign. I thought my story would be welcomed by Fox News.
Since then, things have slowly gotten better. My story on the young Marxist Obama has appeared in Michael Savage’s Trickle-Up Poverty, Paul Kengor’s Dupes, Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-In-Chief and Jack Cashill’s Deconstructing Obama.
Nevertheless, I think there is something broken in our media and campaign system. I do not think most independents or conservatives understand, or fully appreciate, the tremendous advantages the left derives from having the mainstream media serve as the fully paid, completely sympathetic, Dan Rather-level opposition research team of the Democrat party. It is a system that methodically ignores damaging information about flawed candidates like Sen. John Edwards and Rep. Anthony Weiner while routinely elevating minor errors among Republicans to the status of Watergate investigations.
If Republicans are going to win in 2012, I think they need to make some changes so that they are friendlier to the whistle-blowers bringing them bad news about the Obama administration. Personally, I would like to see Republicans create new ways to collect negative news stories on liberals by 1) including web pages requesting opposition research from leakers, 2) establishing guidelines for leakers that help them give campaign decision makers the confidence to pursue appropriate leads, and 3) instituting feedback mechanisms so leakers have some minimal assurance that they have been heard by top campaign managers and that their information has been discarded for technical or strategic reasons and not simply because it was overlooked by a careless staff member.
I think recognition of this problem should be the first step in taking systematic action to prevent flawed Democrat candidates from winning office. In the meantime, I predict we will see more examples of media failure as the left dominates the muckraking journalism profession while the right seems too dependent on a small handful of seemingly obscure, over-worked journalists and – as my case illustrates – unconnected and often baffled citizen activists.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.
Jack Cashill voices the pain of those of us who are doing the journalistic work we once thought was the sole responsibility of CBS’s 60 Minutes. You can catch his appearance on CSPAN2 by clicking here. I identify with Cashill. In his newest book, he indicates it is not so easy to balance his efforts to save Western civilization with his concurrent responsibilities for bagging leaves in time for the city leaf collectors. In my case, I have sought to expose President Barack Obama’s intellectual roots as a revolutionary Marxist while addressing my nagging doubts about the necessity of rinsing dishes prior to racking them up in the dishwasher. If you understand that neither Cashill or me are kidding about our lives, then you will be thrilled by the tone and fresh insight in Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America's First Postmodern President.
As an eye witness to young Obama’s Marxist ideology, I was excited to see Cashill busting up the myths surrounding Obama and replacing them with a simpler, easier to believe story that is a much better fit with accessible, on-line evidence. Cashill’s results are politically significant because President Obama's charisma is dependent on the images Obama created about his early life in his first book, Dreams from My Father. Cashill’s new insights about the real Obama should be particularly relevant to the sort of swing voters who tell survey researchers that they do not care for Obama’s results even thought they still like Obama as a person. After reading Cashill’s book, I suspect these swing voters will be disappointed by the titanic gap between Obama’s all-American myth and the cold facts of his real life.
One of the coldest facts is that there are now nude photos on the Internet of a woman who looks exactly like Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. This news was so unpleasant to me that I was nervous about checking up on Cashill’s report by searching for these photos through Google. (To my relief, the samples I found are clear enough to show the girl’s face, but cropped tight enough that I did not feel I violated any laws.) Along with Cashill, I see these photos as evidence of a much larger pattern of unfortunate mistakes made by the young Ms. Dunham. These photos are politically significant because they offer a convenient segue into a larger discussion of an unwholesome side of the young Obama story - the odd, deviant, dysfunctional world of Frank Marshall Davis. Davis, as readers may know, was a member of the Communist party and also handy in the craft of producing pornographic literature and photography.
Cashill reframes the Obama story by pointing out that Frank Marshall Davis and his friend Paul Robeson were Stalinist Communists, a political label which is shocking to most Americans and yet useful to me in understanding the roots of the Marxist ideology and earnest revolutionary fervor I observed in the young Barack Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College in 1980-1981.
Cashill adds to the sheer seediness of the world surrounding little Obama plenty of new evidence that infant Obama had no conscious contact with his birth father. This unpleasant reality is an abrupt challenge to Obama’s claim, in Dreams, that his father left him and his mother behind in Hawaii after two years of dutiful fatherhood. Here, Cashill leverages the outstanding reporting done by one of our nation’s most intelligent and charming citizen journalists - Michael Patrick Leahy. Leahy interviewed a few of Stanley Anne Dunham’s childhood friends and reported the results in his book, What Does Barack Obama Believe? Leahy’s research shows Anne Dunham took infant Obama with her to Seattle, Washington in the summer of 1961 and did not return with her baby to Hawaii until Obama, Sr. was long gone from the island. Leahy, in my view, has been doing the hard work I assumed New York Times reporters should have been doing including interviewing members of the extended Dunham family, sharing freely available information from the Internet, and combing over public records to determine the precise details of Barack Obama's birth and early childhood.
Even as somebody who met young Obama in the early 1980s, I'm was still startled by Cashill’s most controversial argument – the theory that Bill Ayers was the ghost author of Dreams from My Father. Cashill’s thesis was supported, of course, by the independent reporting of a liberal author, Christopher Andersen. Andersen unwisely confirmed Ayers’ participation in creating Dreams in an otherwise flattering book called Barack and Michelle: Portrait of An American Marriage (2010). The weight of Cashill’s argument, however, rests on his careful textual analysis of the striking similarities between the language used in Dreams and the language used in Ayers’ own writing. Here, I’m most convinced by Cashill’s description of how Obama correctly applies nautical images to his life story. The accuracy of the nautical language in Dreams strikes me as much more consistent with Ayer’s experience as a merchant marine than with Obama’s experience as a community organizer.
I would like to add more details that support the idea that Ayers was a major player in drafting Dreams from My Father. The young Barack Obama I knew, for example, displayed absolutely no hostility to white people. He appeared to be culturally and emotionally white. The young Barack Obama I knew was not particularly close to the African-American students at Oxy either, but was - instead - deeply involved in the lives and political activities of the most radical foreign and Muslim students. The young Barack Obama I knew would have been excited to meet Bill Ayers, would have been comfortable with Ayers’ anti-American hostility, and would have been more than capable of persuading the jaded ex-terrorist that he was a sincere believer in the necessity of a socialist transformation of the U.S.
My only difference with Cashill is that I’m not impressed with the quality of Dreams from My Father.
This is true even after Cashill’s book single-handedly improved my taste as a consumer of contemporary literature. My reading of Dreams did not leave me with any useful paradigm shifts, any evidence of encyclopedic knowledge or any immediately relevant information. I think it is more accurate to assert that President Clinton’s book, My Life, articulates the insights and raw memory capacity of a true genius. In comparison to My Life, I found Dreams dull and boring - except for the parts tangentially related to my own intellectual development or linked to my nearly insignificant participation in what Obama reports were the pivotal, life-changing moments of his sophomore year at Occidental College.
Aside from this relatively minor disagreement regarding the quality of Dreams, I whole-heartedly agree with Cashill’s take on the challenge of confronting Obama’s charismatic power: The alarming sense that media elites greet one’s modest, factual, painfully obvious news tips with an astonishing lack of appropriate attention. I have come to believe there is something broken in American journalism. I would think a healthy, well-functioning democracy would include mainstream media outlets that would snap open the delightful fortune cookies Cashill has set out for them. For now, my confidence for winning our future rests in the outspoken courage of Jack Cashill, a writer who is willing to go to extreme lengths – short of leaving his home surrounded by leaves - to make sure that his fellow citizens learn the truth about President Obama.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.
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