Posted by PrestoPundit on 06/03/2008

are making a big mistake in thinking that Barack Obama is a far left candidate in the tradition of George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Jimmy Carter, and John Kerry.  Barack Obama is a far left candidate like we’ve never seen before.  McGovern, Dukakis, Carter and even Kerry had relatively conventional American upbringings.  Unlike Obama, they didn’t spend 20 years in the pews of an anti-American, anti-capitalist church like Trinity United.  Unlike Obama, they weren’t mentored in high school by an “establishment” hating member of the Communist Party, U.S.A.  Unlike Obama, they didn’t spend their college years seeking out Marxist professors, attending socialist conferences, and soaking in the anti-Western views of the post-1960s academic culture (e.g. literature classes with anti-Western theorist Edward Said).  Unlike Obama, these prior Democrat candidates didn’t acquire their dreams and ideals from the glowing image of a socialist father given to them by their non-Christian, Marx reading, “fellow traveler” mother.  And perhaps most significantly, McGovern, Dukakis, Carter and Kerry, unlike Obama, spent the formative years in which they acquired their identities, the elementary school years in which you learn about what America is and what America is about, in America as Americans.  Obama spent those years in Indonesia, learning what it meant to be an Indonesian, and, we shouldn’t be afraid to say, what it means to be a Muslim practicing Indonesian.  And finally, Obama spent years spreading the ideology of Saul Alinsky radicalism to other leftists, and years working with hard left radical organizations like ACORN and unrepentant hard left terrorists like William Ayers.  Even anti-war hero John Kerry doesn’t have a background to compare with this.  

All of this together gives you the profile of an experienced radical with a significant socialist and anti-Western background, something qualitatively very different than traditional liberal Democrat candidates like McGovern, Dukakis, Carter and Kerry.  McGovern, Kerry, and Carter all served in the U.S. military.  McGovern, Dukakis, Carter and Kerry all served for decades in the mainstream of the Democrat party, traditional New Deal / Great Society welfare state liberals.  The idea that they were radicals or socialists doesn’t stand up to examination.  McGovern’s most “radical” proposal in the 1972 election wasn’t too different from ideas conceived by Milton Friedman and experimented with by Richard Nixon.  His belief in the need to end the war eventually became mainstream opinion, and in many ways was simply a more honest and clear eyed version of Richard Nixon’s own policy. McGovern, Dukakis, Carter and Kerry may have had radicals who supported them, but they themselves were not the radicals.  This year we have something different.



  1. Thucydides said

    Good summary – but it leaves out what may have been one of the most important influences on Obama’s leftism: the neo-marxist Critical Legal Studies movement at Harvard Law School. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education indicates Prof. Roberto Unger, CLS founder, now on leave in the leftist Brazilian government of Lula da Silva, may be returning to take up a post in the Obama administration. According to CLS, objectivity in judging is only cover for class oppression; the duty of a judge is simply to determine the class or race of parties, and award judgment accordingly.

  2. Greg Ransom said

    Good point about Obama & the Crits. I’ve mentioned this general connection before — CLS was the big fashion of the day during Obama’s time at Harvard, and Obama would have been an “expert” in the field with his Marxist/PC/post-modern literature background — but I’ve so far I haven’t come across hard evidence that Obama took classes with the Crits at Harvard. Is there evidence that Obama studied with Unger?

  3. Thucydides said

    A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Unger quotes him as saying Obama was a terrific former student (of his?) with whom he has stayed in touch.


    with Roberto Unger, the left wing Critical Legal Studies guru.  Unger remembers Obama as a “terrific student” (subscription required).  Hat tip to “Thucydides” in the comments to this post.Critical Legal Studies was all the rage when I was st…

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