Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Radicalism In Soothing Tones

One of Obama's greatest strengths, it seems to me, is his ability make the radical sound perfectly reasonable to the uninformed. Joshua Muravchik, writing at the WSJ, thinks likewise. Mr. Muravchik examines the actions and ideology of The One, finding a man immersed in radicalism.

This from Joshua Muravchik writing at the WSJ:

. . . Throughout his Senate career, according to Americans for Democratic Action, the dean of liberal advocacy groups, Mr. Obama voted "right" 90% of the time. Actually this is misleading, since ADA counts an absence as if it were a vote on the "wrong" side. If we discount his absences, Mr. Obama voted to ADA's approval more than 98% of the time.

This touches directly on the question of what, beyond the platitudes of unity, hope and change, Mr. Obama himself believes in. His voting record is one indication. Another is his intellectual evolution.

Abandoned by his father when he was still too young to remember him and then sent at age 10 by his mother to live in Hawaii with her parents, who enrolled him in a prestigious prep school, Mr. Obama spent much of his teen years searching for his black identity. Late in his high-school career he found a mentor of sorts in Frank Marshall Davis, an older black poet. According to Herbert Romerstein, former minority chief investigator of the House Committee on Internal Security, FBI files reveal Davis to have been a member of the Communist Party not only in its public phase but also when it officially dissolved and went underground in the 1950s.

According to Mr. Obama, Davis told him that a white person "can't know" a black person, and that the "real price of admission" to college was "leaving your race at the door." Perhaps influenced by this, he reports that at college, "to avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets."

. . . Thanks to a grant from a left-wing foundation, he was hired by a small group of white protégés of Saul Alinsky, the original apostle of "community organizing." Alinsky's institutional base was the Industrial Areas Foundation, which he called a "school for professional radicals" and whose goal he announced to be "revolution, not revelation." As Mr. Obama himself would put it, there were "two roles that an organizer was supposed to play . . . getting the Stop sign [and] the educative function. At some point you have to link up winning that Stop sign . . . with the larger trends, larger movements." In other words, "community organizer," to Mr. Obama and his colleagues and mentors, was a euphemism for professional radical.

. . . Mr. Obama's turn to electoral politics signified no change in his basic ideological orientation. As his wife, Michelle, put it: "Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change." ("I take that observation as a compliment," Mr. Obama said as late as 2005.)

. . . In his campaign for the Illinois senate, Mr. Obama was endorsed by the New Party, a coalition of socialists, Communists and other leftists. According to the newsletter of the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, whose members were said to constitute 15 percent of the Chicago New Party, "Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP [which] mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP." Apparently, Mr. Obama signed such a pledge. After winning the primary (unopposed because his lawyers had succeeded in knocking all three opponents off the ballot), he appeared at a New Party membership meeting to voice his thanks.

Entering the national political scene eight years later, Mr. Obama did not, to be sure, appear as a radical, but he still bore the earmarks of the world in which he had been immersed for 20 years. He called himself "progressive," a term of art favored by veterans of the hard New Left, like Tom Hayden, as well as by old-time Communists. Early this year his wife, Michelle, lacking his tact, would kindle controversy by saying that his success in the presidential primaries made her feel proud of her country for the first time. The comment, a faux pas that she was soon at pains to explain away, flowed logically from her view, expressed in her standard stump speech, that our country is a "downright mean" place, "guided by fear," where the "life . . . that most people are living has gotten progressively worse."

. . . [Other] radicals, soft and hard, rushed to embrace Mr. Obama, often waxing rapturous in their support. Robert Borosage and Katrina vanden Heuvel enthused in The Nation that Mr. Obama's was "a historic candidacy," from which "new possibilities will be born." Michael Lerner wrote in Tikkun that the "energy, hopefulness, and excitement that manifests [sic] in Obama's campaign" was reminiscent of "the civil-rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement, and the movement for gay liberation." Most remarkably, Tom Hayden himself joined the chorus by breaking a New Left taboo against "red-baiting" and laying bare some of Hillary Clinton's own far-left history—this, in retaliation for the Clinton campaign's revelations about Mr. Obama's radical background.

Even after declaring his candidacy, and despite a certain inevitable sidling rightward, Mr. Obama still reflected the presuppositions of a radical worldview. In one notable remark, he said of voters in economic distress that in their desperation they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." Chastised for his condescension, he responded: "I said something that everybody knows is true." This was elitism of a very specific kind—the mentality of the community organizer, according to which people in the grip of "false consciousness" need to be enlightened as to the true nature of their class interests, and to the nature of their true class enemies.

The same suppositions are again evident in Mr. Obama's stances on international issues. Iraq, as he sees it, is only a symptom. "I don't want to just end the war . . . I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place." And what would that mindset be? In a 2002 speech that he frequently cites, he said the war resulted from

the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors . . . to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne . . . the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income . . . the arms merchants in our own country . . . feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

In this litany of global perfidy, the issues of Saddam Hussein's murderous dictatorship, of American security, of the future of freedom, shrink to inconsequentiality next to the struggle of the oppressed against their American capitalist overlords.

When it comes to Iran, Mr. Obama has acknowledged that the regime presents a problem. But his actions—he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization—as well as his rhetoric imply that the greater danger emanates from George W. Bush (who is allegedly seeking "any justification to extend the Iraq war or to attack Iran"). Likewise on defeating terrorism, where he rejects the America-centric focus that Bush has given to the issue; instead, in the words of his aides, Obama's main goal is to "restore . . . our moral standing"—that is, to put an end to our aggressive ways.

Even the events of 9/11 could not shake Mr. Obama from the mindset that the enemy is always ourselves. The bombings, he wrote, reflected

the underlying struggle—between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together; and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.

In this reading, the lessons to be learned from the actions of Osama bin Laden and Mohamed Atta are that we must accept multiculturalism at home and share our wealth abroad.

Read the entire article. There is much in there about Bill Ayers, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and Rev. Wright. I have pointed out many times before, using much the same reasoning as this author, that Obama sees the worlds problems and solutions through the naive and distorted lens of Karl Marx.

By this paradigm, he divides the world up into victim groups, America the victimizer, and economic concerns as the panacea for all ills. For example, in the wake of 9-11, Obama identified the primary cause of Islamic violence as "a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair." We know that is not true – the typical terrorist is just as likely if not moreso to be educated and middle class. Then there was his comment that the "bitter" folk of our nation, those who take principled stands on their religion and Constitutional rights, only do so because they lack economic opportunity. Obama has expressed a similar view of Iran, positing that between his dynamic personality and just the right economic incentives, the mad mullahs can be divested of their religious principles that now drive their world-wide mayhem and murder. Indeed, he even held out WTO membership as the economic key to defusing the mad mullahs, not realizing that Iran had rejected WTO membership in 2006. They value their religion and their revolution far more than they care about the Iranian economy. For all of his intelligence, it would seem that Obama views the world through a naïve and distorted prism that, in the current circumstance, would prove not merely ineffectual, but highly dangerous.


Dinah Lord said...

The more I read of this stuff, the scarier Obama gets.

Great post, GW.


Insightful. Thank you.

The media shares Obama's distorted prism.

I continue to hope that Americans will see clearly before November 4.

Anonymous said...

Imagine that? A US politician suggesting that we as Americans own up to our share of responsibility for the problems of our nation and the world!

DenisEugeneSullivan said...


Today's Media Question: What's Black & White and Red all over?

Today's Media Motto: Obama - Hugo Chavez without the military experience.