Of the 44 men who have served as president, Barack Obama stands alone as having had a mentor who actively worked on behalf of the nation’s enemies, according to Dr. Paul Kengor, author of The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and a Grove City College professor.
Kengor’s latest book offers an in-depth look at archival materials examining Frank Marshall Davis, a man Obama mentions some 22 times in his 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father, in an attempt to explain how he may have helped shape the president’s political views in his youth.
“I tell my students that it is traditional in teaching history that if you want to understand a president, you need to dig into their history and look at their mentors,” Kengor told Red Alert Politics. “Mentors matter.”
But Frank Marshall Davis wasn’t just any mentor, he was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA – at a time it was under direct Soviet control – and a supporter for Joseph Stalin, the murderer of 20 million of his own people.
“To be a member of the CPUSA was to be pro-Soviet and pro-Stalin period,” Kengor writes. “Americans who refused to salute Stalin left the party …”
According to accounts detailed in the book, Davis was considered a threat by the federal government who was to have been immediately arrested in the event of war with the Soviet Union.
“We’ve never had a president before who had a mentor who was called to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee because he was involved with pro-Soviet activities. Talk about hope and change,” Kengor said. “We got change.”
These activities included efforts to subvert and co-opt liberal civil rights activist and get them to unknowingly tow Moscow’s line and running the Chicago Star, a communist newspaper with a direct line to Stalin’s inner circle. Kengor suspects that Davis may have even caught the eye of the KGB as a potential recruit.
Davis’s defenders like to portray him as the victim of McCarthyism, but Kengor notes that his greatest opponents were liberal Democrats ranging from Harry Truman’s attorney general to the Democrats who ran the congressional committees investigating him.
“It’s very difficult to know what Obama learned from Frank Marshall Davis,” Kengor said.
But the one thing that is certain is that Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, introduced Obama to Davis and that the president grew up in a family steeped in left-wing radicalism, according to Kengor.
Kengor sees many parallels between Obama and Davis ranging from their apparent mutual antipathy for Winston Churchill to their hatred of Wall Street, to their both going back and forth between Honolulu and Chicago at different times in their lives.
Davis’s influence continued into Obama’s college years after he went off to Occidental College in Los Angeles, where Dr. John Drew, a classmate of Obama’s and self-described Marxist, told Kengor he witnessed the future president preaching about coming revolution.
“[Y]oung Obama was looking forward to an imminent social revolution, literally a movement where the working classes would overthrow the ruling class and institute a kind of socialist utopia in the United States,” Drew told Kengor.
Kengor finds it particularly odd how Obama migrated from the fringes of communist politics to where he is today and wonders when the president ever renounced what he preached in college.
However, he stops short of suggesting that Obama still harbors the sorts of communist sympathies he allegedly held in his youth.