So the whole idea of the healthcare Public Option, which by the way was pushed by people who are alumni of the Midwest Academy–they weren’t the only people to back the healthcare public option, but they are certainly some of them–really has this direct descent from Midwest Academy theory, which comes straight out of Gorz’s and Marx’s theory. And there were other elements of the Midwest Academy’s strategic approach that we can see. Oh, and by the way, it’s true that Obama traded away the Public Option. But if you look at the Healthcare Reform Bill as actually passed, it really is just a slightly slower motion version of the non-reformist reform. That is, it’s designed not to work, if you know what I mean. It’s designed to drive people out of private insurance and into the government insurance. It’s just going to take a little longer than the Public Option would have done to do that.
Now, Midwest Academy’s strategy as played out with the Citizen Labor Energy Coalition and its successor organizations, was to downplay foreign policy – too divisive, to downplay social issues – too divisive, and to focus on issues of economic Populism instead. The idea was that the left had been split by the ’60s. You had these culturally leftist people of the ’60s who tended to be more sympathetic to the Socialist revolution abroad, then you had your classic Reagan Democrat type of economic Populists. And what the Midwest Academy people wanted to do was to unite those two halves. And so, the way they wanted to do that was by downplaying these other issues, even though they themselves, the leaders of the Midwest Academy, were completely leftist across the board on all issues. But they were very cagey. They really believed in incrementalism, they believed in stealth, they believed in setting your priorities.
And a lot of times when I’ve concluded that Barack Obama is a Socialist, and people on the left, of course, laugh at that and say, what are you talking about? He sent more troops into Afghanistan. What are you talking about? He’s not supporting same sex marriage. You’re out of your mind. Well, this is absolutely par for the course of the Midwest Academy. One of the most important leaders of the Midwest Academy is named Heather Booth. She was a prominent Socialist feminist in her early days. She wrote training materials for the Midwest Academy all about Socialist feminism. Abortion was a core issue of hers. She couldn’t have cared about any other issue more, and yet she subordinated the abortion issue intentionally, so that she could build a coalition around this economic populism. So you’ll see in the book where I show all sorts of links between the strategies used by President Obama and the strategies of the Midwest Academy.
Let me talk quickly about UNO of Chicago. There are a lot of new things in the book. And there is no way to cover them all, but I’ll just give you a sense of something else that’s in the book. It’s a group called UNO of Chicago. Now, probably not a single one of you has ever heard of UNO of Chicago, United Neighborhood Organizations of Chicago. Nobody knows about this group, and yet it was absolutely central to Barack Obama’s experience of community organizing. And nobody knows about it.
What was UNO of Chicago? It was a predominantly Hispanic organization, not exclusively, but predominantly, and it favored tactics that were very much like ACORN – super confrontational tactics. It had a blatantly anti-American ideology to the point where there were many Mexicans in Chicago who were very patriotic–they had served in the armed forces. They thought the Hispanics in UNO of Chicago were crazy anti-American radical nutcakes. And yet, Obama was deeply tied to this group and to the people who ran this group. And I go into the detail. I’ll just give you one little detail because it’s a nice one. UNO of Chicago–by the way, there were many illegal immigrants in UNO of Chicago, and yet they were constantly running these confrontational tactics demanding government money be spent.
So one of the things they got was a school to be made. And they didn’t just want the school. They wanted it to be called Ninos Heroes I think Heroes might be the original pronunciation. Ninos Heroes, which means “heroic children.” It’s the name for these children who stood up to the United States during the Mexican War. It’s considered a mark of anti-United States Mexican patriotism. So they insisted on calling the school Ninos Heroes, and like I said, the patriotic Mexicans who were living in Chicago inundated the school board demanding that this outrage not take place. And yet, the school board capitulated because certain Hispanic members of the school board were targeted by UNO of Chicago. They came to their house, they scared them to death, they scared their children, and they gave up.
So that’s another example of a kind of a group. And I go into all sorts of stories about it.
I had a forum, a debate, with a fellow named Harry Boyte during the 2008 campaign. Harry Boyte is a prominent theoristic community organizer, and at my think tank I had a debate with this fellow. At the time, I didn’t know who Boyte was. And he presented the sweetest, most marvelous picture of community organizing using communitarian themes. It’s all about bringing communities together, making people care about other people. And someone challenged him and said, but aren’t you super leftist on economic policy? Well, no, not really. I mean, even the American Enterprise Institute talks about community responsibility for this and that.
So one of the things that really shocked me when I was at the Tamiment Library, which David mentioned, was I got out one of the programs for these Socialist conferences Obama attended and there was Harry Boyte’s name on the Socialist conference thing. So already I was like, what? Harry Boyte, that guy who was talking about communitarianism? And then, I’m looking through all of these documents from DSA and I see, “Candidate for the governing board of the Democratic Socialists of America, Harry Boyte.” Unbelievable. So that was another thing that started me on the trail of Socialism.
Then, I got to the Midwest Academy documents in Chicago. Who was the main theorist of stealth Socialism, who himself, he would never have used these words. But he was attacked by Socialists. He was attacked by other Socialists for being too stealthy about Socialism, because the Socialists had battles among themselves. Some of the Socialists said, oh, no, Socialism can win. Let’s go out there and run an election campaign openly on Socialism. And Harry Boyte was the guy who was always saying, no, no, no, no, you don’t want to do it that way. That’s going to backfire.
Harry Boyte turns out to be the main theorist of stealth Socialism for the Midwest Academy. So this is a guy I knew and debated. I had no conception where he was coming from. He had been running his game on me. And in a way, if I hadn’t known him, I wouldn’t have discovered what he was really all about, at least in those extraordinary times.
David Horowitz: Steve Max, whom Stanley mentioned, his father was the Managing Editor of the Communist Party paper, The Daily Worker, when I was young. And there was a big debate at the founding of SDS as to whether Communists should be included, whether the movement should be open to Communists because this was an era right after the Stalin era and this was supposed to be a new left that was being created. And the person that they fought over–and this is why Irving Howe, who is a famous anti-Communist Socialist, attacked Tom Hayden and the founders of SDS—was Stevie Max. So your conservative critics who say they are Communist are exactly right.
Heather Booth. Peter Collier and I when we had written Destructive Generation, we were on a radio show with Heather Booth, who was then running the Harold Washington campaign. She was later on the staff of Senator Metzenbaum. And Peter and I–of course, we were baiting her –we know exactly where she’s coming from–she was very smooth, just completely ignored us, never responded to anything that we said and just was doing propaganda for the Harold Washington campaign. And Gus Newport, whom you mentioned, is another member of the Communist Party. But Heather Booth’s husband, Paul Booth, is a high official in the SEIU, which is the public sector Marxist union that works with ACORN and Obama. And of course, Andy Stern, who is the head of it, is an old SDS, went through the Midwest Academy.
So Chicago has contributed to us the Weathermen, the Midwest Academy, and Barack Obama. Thank you.
When I was a kid and my parents were members of the Communist Party, this was in the heyday of Stalin, of course, the Communist Party slogan was, “Peace, Jobs, and Democracy.” The new left broke with this tradition by saying–we said, we’re revolutionaries up against the wall. And that’s the best thing about the new left actually, that you knew where we were going. These people have just reverted to the old Communist popular front. That’s basically who they are. They are no different and they’re now in the White House.
Stanley Kurtz: That’s right, David. They thought of it that way. One of the things I found in the Midwest Academy archives were explicit statements by the leaders saying, this–we really need to bring back the popular front, the strategy of the Communist popular front. And on the one hand, Steve Max would have said, oh, I’m not a Communist. I am a Democratic Socialist. And Heather Booth would have said the same.
But one of the things I turn up and talk about in the book is a talk, a private talk, that Heather Booth gave to this closed conference of Socialist feminists in 1975. And in that talk she says, “we have to go slowly, we have to go gradually” – all of these Midwest Academy compromise type things. But then, she says, yes, of course, eventually there will have to be a violent revolution and the entire ruling class of the country will have to be wiped out. So that’s one of the areas where you say, these people, even who are calling themselves Democratic Socialists, there might be something even a little bit undemocratic, shall we say, going on when you’re talking about wiping out the ruling class.
Unidentified Audience Member: My question has to do with Henry Wallace. He was the Vice President of FDR who they had to dump in 1944 because he was too much of a Stalinist. And in ’48, of course, he ran as a “progressive,” really the American Communist Party, for President against Harry Truman.
In his campaign was George McGovern. I think one of the things that I’d like to be better known in the country is, one, at what level was George McGovern in the Henry Wallace campaign? Then, of course, McGovern became a congressman, a senator, et cetera, et cetera. And then, the rewrite of the rules of the Democratic Party.
So my question is, I think that Henry Wallace is an underappreciated figure in the osmotic intrusion of progressivism and new leftism into the Democratic Party, et cetera. Is he an underappreciated figure or am I overestimating the role he played in post-World War II, post ’30s leftist development in America?
Stanley Kurtz: I think Henry Wallace was important, maybe in a slightly different way than what you are anticipating, at least insofar as he comes up in the book. One of the things that pushed the new left open revolutionaries into this strategy of stealthily working within the Democratic Party were a very influential group of ex-Communists who came into these Democratic Socialist groups. And they saw the Henry Wallace phenomenon as a disaster. They saw the Henry Wallace phenomenon as splitting off the left from the Democratic Party and they believe that that’s what led to the destruction of Communists and Socialists in the ’50s because the Democrats themselves became angry that the left had split off in this way. So they used the Henry Wallace example to say to these open revolutionaries, no, don’t go openly to the left. Work within the Democratic Party. Don’t make the Henry Wallace mistake.
People did start working within the Democratic Party. They didn’t move to the left and again, people don’t understand that. It was the prestige of these ex-Communists saying to these young kids who thought they were following Lenin and Marx and all of that. And the ex-Communists would say, no, not only did we make a mistake with Henry Wallace, but if you carefully read your Marx and your Lenin, you’ll see that even they favored working within the American Democratic process. And that’s what started to bring the left into more conventional politics.
Unidentified Audience Member: My question is about the 2012 election and how the kind of information you’re providing us is going to play out in that. I know David has played a huge role in supplying people like Glen Beck and the others. There is no question Fox News people, talk radio people, are the ones who have made it–made ACORN a word known around the country. Glen Beck seems to be right at the front of it. And he is doing an incredible job of educating Americans about all of this. But I have some concern that Obama might be successful in marginalizing him. And if you could just kind of address those concerns about the presidential election.
Stanley Kurtz: Well, sure. I mean, I think there is still this constant barrier that people have to pass through. I think there are Republicans who know about my information, there are Republicans who don’t even yet know about the information. There are some who probably are nervous about bringing it up. It’s a gradual process. Just the other day there was–in addition to all the wonderful things that NewsReal Blog and FrontPage Mag have done, there was something at the American Spectator by Jeffrey Lord, a former Reaganite, talking all about Radical-in-Chief and that kind of thing gives the promise that this could break into the open.
I think that if the information in the book breaks into the open, it will be serious problem for Obama. It’s really hard to have a politically winning debate for the other side to talk about how much did these Socialist conferences really matter to Obama. You don’t even want a debate on that. But while there’s a lot of interest in keeping all that quiet, there is also the fear. And again, I had it myself. I didn’t want to go into the Socialism issue on the part of conservatives –most people who have actually read the book come to say, yeah, this is documented, it’s not written in a crazy way, it makes sense. But there’s a real barrier in getting people to open it up and take it seriously.
So I think there is another element here, and that is the Dinesh D’Souza problem, because Newt Gingrich touted an article that was on the cover of Forbes giving a digest of the argument of Dinesh D’Souza’s recent anti-Obama book. And the press has to cover what politicians say, particularly someone who might run for the nomination. So instantly, from being totally ignored, everyone in the mainstream media, every liberal with blogging software, as someone said, started attacking both Gingrich and D’Souza. I happen to think, and again, you know my bias, but I happen to think that if Gingrich had mentioned my book instead of D’Souza’s, that would have come out a lot better for him.
D’Souza has put himself at odds with conservatives because he put out a book a couple years ago recommending an alliance between moderate Muslims and American conservatives. So no one defended D’Souza and Gingrich was embarrassed because everyone attacked him. And that gave a danger sign. Hey, if you as a politician get yourself behind a book, you could be left hanging out to dry. And that all happened just before my book came out. Now, I happen to think my book, being more well documented , would not suffer that fate. But it’s a scare example for politicians. I think gradually we’re making progress, but it’s going to take time.
Unidentified Audience Member: There’s a gap for me between what your book has told us and other sources of Obama’s background. The thing I can’t quite get a handle on is how did this relatively obscure Chicago politician suddenly become thrust forward into the general Democratic Party and wind up as the candidate? What was the engine that pushed him from Chicago to Washington, D.C.?
Stanley Kurtz: I think charisma had a huge amount to do with it. Personal charisma, and I think, a story, which is I think–were it not for the fact that he is so politically radical, it could potentially be a wonderfully inspiring story to have the first African American President of the United States. And I think that his personal charisma combined with the enthralling nature of that story helped to rocket him to prominence. Of course, it was his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. And what he did in that speech, it really was sort of classic Midwest Academy, talking about there is no red America and there is no blue America, there’s just the United States of America. Alot of communitarian themes as well.
If you look back at his past, he sounded like he was a trans-racial Martin Luther King person. No one has ever been more in favor of racial preference and set aside type programs than Barack Obama in his past. And another thing I go into in the book is a pattern that Obama himself went through, and I explain it, but almost every community organizer goes through. They present themselves as post-partisan, as pragmatists. They present themselves as beyond ordinary politics. And then, they very intentionally use polarization as a strategy. So this whole trajectory is just an enlarged version of the community organizer trajectory and he was able to work it brilliantly.
Unidentified Audience Member: What I still don’t get is the Democratic Party is a large group of people and he had people who were in competition with him. How did he–who were those that pushed you forward to the front and dropped everybody else behind with the exception maybe of Hillary Clinton?
Stanley Kurtz: One answer is my nephew. My nephew, who loves Jon Stewart, he’s young, he does all the things that the Obama fans do, this generation of young kids who were inspired in the way that I say. But I think I sense something else behind your question, and I think it’s the larger issue is isn’t there a wing of the Democratic Party–it’s not just Obama–that is not so far from these radical ideas? And I think that’s absolutely true. And when I did my research I ran into all sorts of things. I don’t like to go public with things unless I have them really documented and all of that. But it does go beyond Obama. And even the Midwest Academy achieved a fair amount of influence at its height such that all the Democratic candidates had to come and speak for it. They themselves probably didn’t know, most of them, that it was a Socialist controlled group.
But there was a name for this actually. They called the strategy at these Socialist conferences the party within a party strategy. They had a conception of literally developing a party within a party. And Obama himself belonged to something. And this is something I brought up during the campaign and the Obama campaign attacked me and called me nasty names. He belonged to something called the New Party, which was a party jointly run by ACORN and the Democratic Socialists of America. And it’s mimicked now by the Working Family Party in New York, one of the few states that allows you to co-endorse instead of having your own separate line. That almost embodies the party within a party strategy, that you had a leftist third party which operated by co-endorsing select Democrats who were super far to the left.
So, yes, I think you raise implicitly the larger question of what’s going on with the Democrats. And I do think there is a party within a party.
Unidentified Audience Member: I would like to know why and how the–Barack Obama’s papers at Columbia when he was there, how they got sealed, how did that all come about, and what you know about that.
Stanley Kurtz: Well, everyone’s college records are private. They’re just naturally private. Now, candidates often say, oh, please, release my records to the public. But everyone’s records are protected, so no one can go back to your records or my records or whatever. And during the campaign, in fact, Obama not only did not release his public records, but he told all sorts of friends that he had, don’t talk to the press. And two of them, his Pakistani friends who knew him at Occidental, even tell the story about reporters–most reporters ignored it, but some were banging on their door. Maybe that was the Fox News guy, I don’t know. But they had to hide from even opening their door. But the interesting thing is that a lot of the people who didn’t speak in 2008 spoke to Obama’s sympathetic biographer, David Remnick, after the campaign and Remnick explained a lot of amazing things that Obama–effectively, Remnick says Obama was a Socialist at Occidental College and he did go to meetings of the Democratic Socialist Alliance. It’s just that every time Remnick dribbles out some seemingly damning bit of information, he does something to try to cancel out its significance. So he says, yeah, he was Socialist, but he wasn’t that doctrinaire, and this and that.
Well, it turns out that John Drew, a fellow who is here right now, had a remarkable debate with Obama back when he was at Occidental, and through his account, which I find extremely credible, says, oh, he was very doctrinaire and very knowledgeable. So one of the things I do in the book is go through the belated revelations in the Remnick book and show how they are very damning and that the ways in which Remnick tries to neutralize them are not convincing. But the records, college records, are sealed by law. Only Obama could say everybody look at my records, and he doesn’t seem inclined to do that.
Unidentified Audience Member: On reflecting on your well informed and thoughtful response, Wallace was kicked out. He didn’t just split. He wasn’t just a schismatic. He was kicked out and replaced with an anti-Communist, Harry Truman. That was a very deliberate move by the Democratic Party at that time. Then, Wallace in ’48, by running against Truman and taking so many votes from the left, if he had prevailed, meaning taken enough votes to cause Harry Truman to lose to Dewey, the lesson to the Democrats would have been don’t do that again. So certainly, I think you are quite correct. But it’s not just don’t leave, but the threat to the Democratic Party, don’t push one of us out again. So I’d ask you to revisit this Henry Wallace thing. And as I said, as a minimum McGovern and God knows who else, I think it needs to be written–researched.
Stanley Kurtz: Fascinating. Thank you.
David Horowitz: Let me just put in my two cents on what happened. The Communists formed the Progressive Party in ’48 because of the Cold War, the Marshall Plan, which they opposed, NATO. So when Harry Truman issued the Truman doctrine that the United States was not going to allow free peoples to be subverted or conquered, since the Communist Party was under the control of Moscow, they took the decision to break with the Democratic Party and to break the popular front, which had been formed in the Roosevelt era. My mother, she was a registered Democrat. That’s what she did. But not in 1948. This continued through the Cold War. And of course, the new left, we attacked the Kennedys and the liberals. I mean, that was the good thing about the new left, it self–isolated itself.
But in 1968, of course, Hayden organized a riot at the Democratic Convention over the Vietnam War. But when Hubert Humphrey was defeated, then McGovern, who comes from the Wallace campaign and had these politics, he becomes the candidate and the left en masse actually marches into the Democratic Party. They change the rules of McGovern, they change the rules of the party and they had all these caucuses based, of course, on race and identity and so forth. And they really took control of the Democratic Congressional Party at that time. I mean, I gave you this example. How could they let Ron Dellums be the Chair of the Armed Services Committee?
The other big thing is what happened in the Kennedy family. When people lead disreputable careers or do bad things, they want to get their moral cred back and the way to do it is you become a champion of the oppressed and join the left. I had this encounter–I forget her name, but it’s in Radical Son, with a woman who was the congressional liaison for the ACLU or whatever, a very prominent feminist. And I said to her–this was in the early ’80s, I said how come Teddy Kennedy is the biggest woman abuser in the country. How come you don’t go after him? And she said, oh, he’s down for the agenda. We will never go after him.
And Ted Kennedy, right after he killed that woman at Chappaquiddick, the first speech he gave was an anti-Vietnam speech which was far left, whereas his brothers were much more conservative–Bobby was a Joe McCarthy staffer and Jack was what later would have been called a Reagan Democrat. Then, right then Kennedy engineered Watergate. We had Chris Matthews at the Weekend. I mean, what a transformation in that guy. He gave a great speech at our Weekend. But Chris Matthews wrote a really good book called, Nixon and Kennedy. And the entire Watergate was engineered by Teddy Kennedy. And something like eight of the 12 special prosecutors were from the Kennedy entourage. And it was to defeat the United States in the Vietnam War. That’s what Watergate was about.
When Nixon resigned, the Watergate class came in that had Communists like Bella Abzug. That’s when the left–John Kerry, they all came in ’74. The first thing they did in January was to cut off aid to Cambodia and Vietnam, and that’s when the massacres–the governments fell within four months. So the Democratic Party has been in this transformation to a leftist party for 30 or 40 years. That’s how to answer the question of how Barack Obama got in there. The Progressive Caucus, so this was a Marxist Caucus in the party, where there’s 160 members of the congressional–of the House, that’s the vast majority.
Nancy Pelosi gave a speech on the floor to honor her personal hero, Harry Bridges, who was a member of the Central Committee of the American Communist Party and a Soviet Agent. So that’s how bad it is, and that’s why when I met with Jeremiah then, I said, oh, my God, this country is in trouble and for 20-odd years that’s what the Center has been doing is trying to educate people. And then we, by putting up Discover the Networks and things we’ve done, we’ve allowed people who are now beginning to realize that access to the networks and the dots and the agendas.
And these people are professional liars. To be on the left, you have to be a liar. You are always for peace, justice, of course, because you know if you tell people what you are for, at best they’re not going to listen to you, at worst they could get really angry. I had this experience–I will close with this. Cardinal Menzenti was a hero because he refused–he was the Cardinal in Budapest. And when the Russians and the Communists took over the country, instead of leaving the country, he stayed in the American Embassy and led–he was the symbol of the anti-Communist struggle.
And when I had my second thoughts and started to speak on the conservative circuit, one of the first invitations was to the Cardinal Menzenti Foundation in St. Louis where I was introduced by my host as a former civil rights worker and peace activist. In truth, I was a bloody Marxist revolutionary. And that applies to all these people. And if you read Stanley’s book, I mean, Jan Schakowsky, they’re all part of this Midwest Academy out there and they know who they are and they know each other and they understand the dangers, the third rail of foreign policy and things like that.
So anyway, that’s the lesson for today.
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