Meet the hard-core Communist who mentored the future 44th President of the United States.
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It is fascinating that Davis and the Obama family shared an unlikely geographical path, with Davis moving from Kansas to Chicago to Honolulu, and with Barack Obama’s family living in Kansas before moving to Honolulu and then (for Barack) on to Chicago. Both Stanley Dunham and Davis grew up in Kansas in the 1920s, but they did not know each other.
Another source very familiar with these relationships is Kathryn Takara, a University of Hawaii professor and Davis biographer. She knew Davis for 15 years and was so close that she talked to him the day he died. She said that Davis “nurtured a sense of possibility” in Obama, which is evident “in the way that Barack Obama carries himself, walks, and talks.” Takara states that Frank handed on to Obama “a sense of believing that change can happen.”
Given that “change” became the one-word mantra of the entire Obama political movement, this is no small statement. The very title of the Obama team’s 2008 campaign book was Change We Can Believe In—words that precisely echo Takara’s description of Davis’s influence on Obama.
Takara and Weatherly-Williams are just two of over a dozen sources I cite—all favorable biographers and friends/associates of Obama and Davis—who describe Davis as a vital, lasting infl uence on the future president. Of course, the main reason we know of the relationship is compliments of his memoirs.
In Dreams from My Father, Obama himself notes that Davis offered him advice at several life-changing levels: on race, on college, on women, on his mind, on his attitudes, on life. “I was intrigued by old Frank,” writes Obama, “with his books and whiskey breath and the hint of hard-earned knowledge behind the hooded eyes.”
In one telling passage, Obama seeks Davis’ parting advice before he leaves Hawaii for college. Davis growls: “They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that s—t.” I found these words—first published by Obama in 1995—hauntingly similar to Davis’ words in Communist Party publications from 50 years earlier. To cite just one example, in a column for the Chicago Star, November 9, 1946, Davis growled: “I’m tired of being beaned with those double meaning words like ‘sacred institutions’ and ‘the American way of life.’” Davis didn’t exactly view America as a shining city upon a hill.
Though Frank Marshall Davis’ influence is acknowledged in Dreams, Obama wisely never once discloses his full name, surely knowing the political risk of admitting such a radical mentor, albeit knowing Davis had been too important to leave out. In Dreams, Obama refers to Davis merely as “Frank.” Even then, Obama directly mentions “Frank” 22 times (and far more via pronouns and other forms of reference) over the course of thousands of words and through every section. Frank is a recurring part of Obama’s life and mind, by Obama’s own extended recounting, from Hawaii—the site of visits and late evenings together—to Los Angeles to Chicago to Germany to Africa, from adolescence to college to community organizing. He is always one of the few (and first) names mentioned by Obama at each mile-marker on his historic path from Hawaii to Washington. When Davis is not physically there, Obama literally imagines him—pictures him there, visualizes him.
Consider Chicago: When Obama at last landed in the Windy City, where he would spread his wings and make his name, of all things and people that might enter his mind, he first thought of Frank: “I imagined Frank in a baggy suit and wide lapels,” Obama wrote in Dreams, “standing in front of the old Regal Theatre, waiting to see Duke or Ella emerge from a gig.”
In short, Obama always seemed to feel a connection to Frank Marshall Davis that he painfully concedes he was unable to find in his mother, father, stepfather, grandfather, grandmother, siblings, or anyone else who comprised his origins and life journey. Frank Marshall Davis is an abiding, permanent influence, an integral part of Obama’s sojourn.
And yet, never before has a president conceded such a radical influence only to have the dominant press ignore that influence, if not downplay or dismiss it altogether.
AND NOW, THE MILLION-DOLLAR QUESTION: How much does all of this matter today? How does it reflect upon President Barack Obama?
That, unfortunately, is a more difficult thing to establish. In Dreams, Obama does not dare say that Davis taught him his politics. Obama pretty much strays from politics altogether in Dreams—a prudent move.
Nonetheless, the two met often (David Maraniss states upwards of 15 times, which is surely a conservative estimate), and typically for long hours at a time, one-on-one, into late evenings. And Davis was a thoroughly political man, given to political diatribes, even anti-American rants. It is hard to imagine that Davis did not influence Obama on politics to some degree.
So, what can we say?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online