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Top 7 Books for Barack Obama’s Remedial Reading List — Because a Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Posted on March 16 2011 6:00 am

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2. Radical-in-Chief — Stanley Kurtz


One of my fondest hopes is that Stanley Kurtz will never become an IRS auditor and I will never find myself staring across a desk at him trying to explain those undisclosed assets I thought were safely buried in a jar in Greenland.

I am sure Mr. President your fondest hope must have been that he would take the hint to back off looking into your past after his research efforts met unexpected roadblocks and after the piranhas of the media swarmed him like a severed limb.

Unhappily for you anyway it only appears to have steeled his resolve. The result is a masterpiece, written in careful, meticulous (some would say painful) detail that documents the cat’s cradle of relationships with socialist individuals and organizations that characterized every step of your ascendancy from student to community organizer to president.

More importantly Kurtz makes a compelling case that from the early 1980’s onwards your own evolution and  the metamorphosis of the Left were inextricably intertwined. It explains, as no other theory has adequately explained, why you became a community organizer in the first place.

The socialist community organizers who inspired and trained Obama openly embraced American democracy. Although they admired Marx, Lenin, and Mao—along with Obama’s idol, Saul Alinsky—in the medium term, at least, these organizers surrendered their revolutionary hopes and abandoned authoritarian ways. Some retained a soft spot for Third World Communist regimes in Cuba and Latin America. And surely the program favored by Obama’s organizing mentors could be seen as a subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—assault on traditional American freedoms. Yet this new stealth socialism, which Obama studied and absorbed as a community organizer in Chicago, became more sophisticated and transformed itself into the policies he is now enacting as president. … The president has systematically disguised the truth about his socialist convictions, sometimes by directly misrepresenting his past and sometimes by omitting or parceling out damaging information to disguise its real importance. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and ACORN—all of Obama’s well-known radical ties are entry points into the much larger and still unknown socialist world where Obama’s career was nurtured.

As I alluded to above, this is a heavy read, only because Kurtz has a researcher’s zeal for detail and exhaustive references. One can easily imagine that one of his motives for the elaborate t-crossing was to preempt any suggestion that this was just one more hyper-partisan screed playing fast and loose with the facts. The complete lack of sensationalism makes it all the more powerful.

I recommend this one, not so much as a walk down memory lane as a reminder that even the best kept secrets have a much shorter shelf-life than most people imagine. You might want to ruminate on this, with possible reference to Lincoln’s observations about fooling all of the people all of the time.


Stanley Kurtz, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism (Threshold Editions, 2010). 

Next: Sorry about your dad, but why does the whole country have to suffer?

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