Stanley Kurtz’s new book, “Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism,” is a detailed look into the forces that shaped Barack Obama. Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has written a highly-detailed and definitive account of the president’s conversion as a radical activist; he provides minute and abundant evidence confirming the long-disputed label of “socialist” that has dogged the president since his undergraduate days. Kurtz describes Obama’s ideology as “stealth socialism” and called his views “Barack Obama’s secret.” In the preface of the book, Kurtz writes, “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.”
Kurtz begins his account in 1983, presenting evidence that Barack Obama, then a senior undergraduate at Columbia University, attended several annual sessions of the “Socialist Scholars Conference.” Kurtz describes the shift of strategy that took place at that meeting to turn the socialist movement from its goal of “nationalization” to community organizing as the best means of promoting the movement during the Reagan administration. Kurtz details the evidence that Socialist Scholars conferences influenced Obama and refutes the president’s claim that his embrace of community organizing was an “impulse.” Instead, in Kurtz’s fully-documented account, the Socialist Scholars conferences provided the future president with a vision for transforming America, as well as a way for Black Americans to be the driving force behind that transformation through the efforts of the Midwest Academy, a training institute that Kurtz credits with Obama’s political ascendency.
Many of the “class warfare” themes that dominate President Obama’s current rhetoric are rooted in that period of his life — such as the “haves” v. the “have-nots” and big business v. the poor. Kurtz shows that the influence of Chicago politics on the future president’s life began at that time with his involvement with Chicago mayor Harold Washington. President Obama extols Washington — a politician Kurtz says openly identified with Chicago’s socialists and the person Kurtz credits with overthrowing the “centrist Democratic machine” in Chicago — as his “political idol” and role model, along with Saul Alinsky, for his political life.