Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Great Corrective
The Great Corrective
By Paul Kengor
For one, the American voter decisively elected as president a man that the widely respected, non-partisan National Journal had named the “most liberal member of the Senate” in 2007, to the left of even Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, and Hillary Clinton. As a U.S. senator, that man had co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act; as a state senator, he had opposedand blocked legislation to prevent healthcare to babies that survived abortions. That man also possessed remarkably disturbing radical associations and influences, which were hardly irrelevant, fromFrank Marshall Davis to Bill Ayers to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
I could say more, but I don’t want to sound like I’m beating up President Obama. My point is simply that Americans don’t elect presidential candidates with records and backgrounds this extreme—but they did on November 4, 2008. And they did so with traditional Democrats and moderates leading the way, thinking they had elected “another Jack Kennedy” or a “give-‘em-hell-Harry Truman,” men bearing zero ideological resemblance to Obama, or, for that matter, to Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi.Speaking of the latter two, that same electorate gave a gigantic majority to arguably the most left-wing Congress in the history of the republic.
Yet, most amazing, that same electorate, after voting as it did, walked out of the booth and described itself to pollsters as conservative over liberal by an overwhelming margin of two to one, 40 percent to 20 percent, as it has in every poll for two decades. That data held even throughout the start of Obama’s presidency and the peak of his popularity.
A major Gallup pollconducted from January to May 2009 found more self-described conservatives than liberals not only by 40 percent to 21 percent but in all 50 states.How could this happen? We can list the reasons: The public didn’t like John McCain. Voters were angry at George Bush and the Republicans. The economy crashed.
But it wasn’t simply negatives that prompted the public to vote as it did. First and foremost, Americans liked Obama and voted for “change,” projecting onto this appealing candidate whatever they wished. For some inexplicable reason, they didn’t understand that Obama meant “change” of the sort that he has always favored, meaning a lunge to the far left.
One figure, from the far left, who understood what happened is Mark Rudd, the 1960s radical communist who spearheaded Students for a Democratic Society and formed the Weather Underground with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. In 2008, Rudd suddenly re-emerged, along with the likes of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, among a tight-knit group called “Progressives for Obama.” Rudd’s take on the 2008 election was dead on. He wrote:
Obama is a very strategic thinker. He knew precisely what it would take to get elected and didn’t blow it…. But he also knew that what he said had to basically play to the center to not … scare centrist and cross-over voters away. He made it…. And I agree with this strategy…. Any other strategy invites sure defeat. It would be stupid to do otherwise in this environment.
It seems fair to say that Rudd believes Obama duped “centrist” and “cross-over” voters.
Indeed, Obama got those votes, and then governed in a decidedly non-centrist way. Within mere weeks, Obama, working with the Pelosi-Reid Congress, passed an $800 billion “stimulus” package, reversed the Mexico City policy, sent taxpayer dollars to fund destruction of human embryos, filled his staff with people like Anita Dunn and Van Jones, effectively nationalized General Motors, took a record deficit from George W. Bush and exploded into a $1.6 trillion nightmare, and then began moving to centralize the greatest healthcare system mankind will ever know—just for starters.
Alas, the voting public, which somehow in November 2008 couldn’t see this coming, finally caught on, with the Tea Party out in front. The political left, rather than reach out to the Tea Party, or attempt to answer it, smeared it as a bunch of racists, fascists, Nazis, gargoyles—even as the likes of Gallup published major studies finding a perfect 50:50 split among Republicans and non-Republicans in the Tea Party.
Likewise, President Obama didn’t change course even slightly, doing a few key things to suggest he was moderate. At the least, he should’ve publicly called for an extension of the Bush tax cuts, especially once it was clear Republicans would win back the House. Bill Clinton would’ve adjusted; Obama did not. He went over the cliff with the flag flying, and has now lost the sweeping majority he needed.And now, this Tuesday, November 2, 2010: the backlash. Call it the great corrective. America remains that conservative country by a margin of two to one, even if it doesn’t always vote that way. This Tuesday, it did.
On “Dupes” and the Religious Left (Part 4)
By Paul Kengor
Editor's note: this is the fourth of five installments in a series of weekly interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science and executive director of the Center, on his latest book, "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."
This series focuses on a dominant theme of the book: the Religious Left.
V&V: Dr. Kengor, in our last Q&A, you noted disturbing examples of communists manipulating liberal / progressive Christians through phony peace campaigns, including the case of the communist front-group, the American Peace Mobilization, which accommodated Hitler because Hitler signed a pact with Stalin. Who were other manipulators of the Religious Left?
Dr. Paul Kengor: One was Stalin himself. I give a bunch of examples in the book. Most troubling is how Stalin hoodwinked President Roosevelt. For the record, I probably defend FDR in Dupes more than I criticize him. FDR was targeted by communists, who tried not only to dupe him and his administration, but penetrated his administration with spies and Soviet sympathizers. Worse, communists demonized FDR in their literature and campaigns.
That said, FDR was terribly naïve toward Stalin, whom he called “Uncle Joe” as a term of endearment. FDR openly mused that Stalin had taught him, Churchill, and all various officials something about “the way in which a Christian gentleman should behave.” Where did Stalin gain this alleged virtue that FDR somehow saw radiating from this man who slaughtered millions? The Episcopalian elder from Hyde Park, looked upward for an answer: Perhaps, pondered FDR, it had been Stalin’s youthful training for the “priesthood.”
V&V: You say that FDR really felt this way, and wasn’t simply saying such things to “get along” with a difficult ally during wartime?
Kengor: That’s correct. Most observations like this were made in private by FDR. I footnote them carefully. I know their seriousness.
V&V: From roughly this same era, what about Frank Marshall Davis?
Kengor: Another manipulator of liberal / progressive Christians was Frank Marshall Davis, mentor to a young man in Hawaii named Barack Obama. I have photo exhibits of Davis’s weekly columns for the CPUSA organ in Hawaii, the Honolulu Record, plus pages from his declassified 600-page FBI file listing his actual Communist Party membership number, which was 47544. V&V: Share some examples from Davis’s weekly columns.
Kengor: In one Davis column, titled, “Challenge to the Church,” September 29, 1949, Davis framed communism as friendly to Christianity, and anti-communism as un-Christian. He painted an image of Judgment Day, where hypocritical anti-communist Christians would be judged for opposing alleged Christ-loving communists. “The Christian churches,” asserted Davis, “are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is Communism.” Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, maintained Davis, but Stalin had spared the planet of Hitler’s “anti-Christian paganism.” Christians ought to thank Stalin.
V&V: In another column you cite, Davis called anti-communists “Pontius Pilates.”
Kengor: Yes, Davis wrote that in July 1949, as Stalin was approaching his third decade of literally blowing up churches and jailing and executing religious believers. The good communists were, said a stoic Davis, “ready to face crucifixion, if need be, for what they believe in. They have no fear of the Pontius Pilates of 1949.”
In Frank Marshall Davis’s world, the anti-communists were the Pontius Pilates, not the communists conducting show trials of priests and bishops sentenced to execution or dispatched to prison camps in Russia.
Obviously, this was blatant Soviet propaganda. But, here again, Davis was making a bid for the support of the Religious Left. The way that Frank Marshall Davis manipulated “social justice” pastors is quite cynical but also quite impressive.
V&V: You also write that Davis was reflective of how atheistic communists often quoted Christ or cited Scripture when looking to dupe liberal Christians.
Kengor: They did that all the time, from the pages of Pravda to the Daily Worker. One example was FDR’s former vice president, Henry Wallace.
The Daily Worker adored Wallace. He was a go-to guy for a quick quote blasting not Stalin and the Soviets but American anti-communists. Speaking of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Daily Worker quoted Wallace: “Has America gone crazy?” He asked “Is the Un-American Activities Committee evidence that America is travelling the road to fascism?” The former vice president urged his fellow Americans that they “must destroy” the committee—at the ballot box. If they did not, the committee “will destroy many of the foundations of democracy and Christianity.” The former veep, a fond admirer of the Soviet experiment, was worried about threats to democracy and Christianity—in America, that is.
The Daily Worker, in turn, thrust quotes like this directly onto the front cover. The comrades appreciated Henry Wallace dearly.
To read another article by Paul Kengor, click here.
Posted by Brett at 9:58 PM