This is a special contribution by freelance writer Charles C. Johnson.
While self-styled progressives may be disillusioned with Obama, at least one long-time radical supporter is still supporting him. And a newly-uncovered email by that supporter reveals an interesting denial.
“I know [Obama’s] not a consistent progressive, I know the man, worked on his very first campaign [for State Senate in 1998], and got him to give that first antiwar speech. He was my third choice, after Kucinich and Richardson dropped out,” Carl Davidson wrote on his Facebook page after the first presidential debate in early October.
Davidson, a former Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader, was the former co-chair of Chicagoans Against the War in Iraq (CAWI), a group instrumental in launching Barack Obama’s political career at a October 2, 2002 anti-war speech. Davidson later led Progressives for Obama and the Marxist Committees of Correspondence in the 1990s. Video of Obama’s remarks at that event no longer exists, except for thirteen seconds, but the fact that former SDS members launched Obama’s career is confirmed by the recollections of other activists, many of them SDS.
Former SDS leader Marilyn Katz discussed Obama’s involvement in a 2007 posting. “Meeting in a living room in Chicago just ten days earlier, we chose to act agreeing that on October 2nd, 2002, we would assemble in Chicago's Federal Plaza to stand against the war,” Katz recalled. “Long time leaders like Jesse Jackson, Juan Andrade [a Latino community activist] and Julie Hamos and a new voice…not yet known to the crowd, to the media or to the nation… the voice of State Senator Barack Obama.” [Ellipses in original.]
Still another member of Chicagoans Against the War in Iraq (and SDS leader) was Don Rose, the former spokesman for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, that was one of the largest groups protesting the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. The Chicago Tribune, describing the October 2 rally, called Don Rose a “former 60s radical” and CAWI a group of “longtime lefties with ties” to the Vietnam War effort. Rose was also a Harold Washington strategist. Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, was a progressive icon that Obama saluted in his book “Dreams From My Father,” and whose career he hoped to emulate.
Other enthusiastic early supporters included Bernice Bild, a former socialist activist, and Marcia Rothenberg, former vice president of the Cook County Nurses Association. Both were members of Hyde Parkers for Peace and Justice and later soured on Obama for moving toward the center in his 2004 campaign, writing in the Hyde Park Herald, “Your early opposition to the war in Iraq was the catalyst for our support. Now, as your friends, we want to convey our disappointment at your retreat from that position.”
But Obama’s connections to radical groups goes beyond CAWI and SDS, and that’s where Davidson comes back in. There have also been longtime rumors about Obama’s past involvement in the socialist New Party that considered the Democratic Party too moderate. Stanley Kurtz author of “Radical-in-Chief” and the investigative researcher who first broke news of Obama’s involvement with the New Party, has even reported Obama signed a “contract” promising to represent the Party while in office.
“There is no doubt that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party,” Kurtz told TheBlaze. “We now have definitive proof of that in the form of minutes from a New Party meeting that explicitly say Obama ‘joined the New Party.’ The minutes also confirm that Obama signed the New Party's ‘candidate contract,’ which contained a promise to support and openly associate with the party. We also have a complete roster of Chicago New Party members from early 1997 that lists Obama as a party member and confirms that he joined on January 11, 1996, the same day the minutes indicate that he joined. …[C]laims by some New Party veterans that he was not an active member are also false.”
In an email obtained by TheBlaze from June 2012, however, Davidson denies that Obama was intimately connected to the group.
“I was there when we interviewed him for the [New Party] endorsement, and on the spot we decided he didn’t need to ‘sign the contract” with us because his views on the living wage and redlining were identical to ours,” Davidson wrote. “We helped him in the campaign, along with a few other candidates, he won, he came to one meeting and thanked us, and that was it.”
“I helped manage the [New Party] membership lists, too,” Davidson added. “If someone signed him up later, I have no idea, but I think I would have heard about it. Also, the NP was NOT a socialist party—in fact it was designed NOT to be a socialist party, not even social-dem—and many socialists in Chicago opposed us because of this.”
Davidson also had strong words for conservatives who pointed out Obama’s New Party affiliation.
“This is a fool's errand on the part of the far right, trying like hell to find some way to make Obama into a socialist, when any idiot can see that's he's not, and never has been--not even close. I've told them this many times, but they just choose to ignore it, or twist my words to make me say the opposite. Typical garbage on their part,” he wrote at the time.
But Kurtz disagrees.
“Carl Davidson's denial that Obama was a New Party member is either an honest mistake based on misinformation, a case of faulty memory, or an intentional deception intended to suppress evidence of Obama's radicalism,” he tells TheBlaze. “Carl Davidson was one of the top leaders of a Chicago New Party faction that was in a heated dispute with a more powerful faction during the precise time that Obama joined the party. We know that attendance at Chicago-wide New Party functions by Dan Swinney, another leader of Davidson's faction, fell off sharply during the period when Obama joined. If Davidson's attendance at Chicago-wide party meetings fell off around the same time as Swinney's, it may help explain his claim that Obama never joined the party.”
“At any rate,” he concludes,” Davidson's denial that Obama was a party member is flatly proven wrong by contemporaneous New Party documents.”