Stanley Kurtz: Media Near-Silent on Obama Ties to New Party and ACORN

Remember the intensive investigations by the press to determine if Sarah Palin had ever been a member of the Alaska Indedence Party? Contrast that with the almost total lack of interest by the media into looking at the ties (and membership) of Barack Obama in the far left New Party. Your humble correspondent has written about this lack of interest by the MSM in Obama's New Party connection but Stanley Kurtz of the National Review now provides a wealth of information on Obama's ties to both that far left party and ACORN. Kurtz documents how Obama's connection to the New Party (and ACORN) gives lie to his claims of being some sort of "post-partisan, post-ideological pragmatist." (emphasis mine):

During his first campaign for the Illinois state senate in 1995-96, Barack Obama was a member of, and was endorsed by, the far-left New Party. Obama’s New Party ties give the lie to his claim to be a post-partisan, post-ideological pragmatist. Particularly in Chicago, the New Party functioned as the electoral arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). So despite repeated attempts to distance himself from ACORN, Obama’s New Party ties raise disturbing questions about his links to those proudly militant leftists. The media’s near-total silence on this critical element of Obama’s past is deeply irresponsible.

Perhaps the media is still busy on their wild goose hunt trying to determine if Sarah Palin was ever a member of the Alaska Independence Party which she wasn't. Kurtz then asserts that the question of the New Party being formally socialist is beside the point since that party was clearly far left with a redistributionist agenda:

While a small group of bloggers have productively explored Obama’s New Party ties, discussion has often turned on the New Party’s alleged socialism. Was the New Party actually established by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)? Was the New Party’s platform effectively socialist in content? Although these debates are both interesting and important, we needn’t resolve them to conclude that the New Party was far to the left of the American mainstream. Whether formally socialist or not, the New Party and its ACORN backers favored policies of economic redistribution. As Obama would say, they wanted to spread the wealth around. Bracketing the socialism question and simply taking the New Party on its own terms is sufficient to raise serious questions about Obama’s political commitments — questions that cry out for attention from a responsible press.

Kurtz also documents how the New Party wanted to form a broad leftwing coalition which sounds eerily similar to the  Popular Front of the 1930s:

In 2002, Micah L. Sifry, a former writer and editor with The Nation magazine, published Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America, a book that contains what is probably our best account of the rise and fall of the New Party. Although Sifry leaves us hanging on the socialism question, his chapter on the New Party is more than enough to raise disturbing questions about Obama’s radicalism, and about his ties to ACORN.

Sifry reports a quip by New Party co-founder, Daniel Cantor: “The shorthand strategy for accomplishing all this is to get the Bruce Springsteen, Lauryn Hill, and Pete Seeger vote united in one party.” The Peter Seeger vote does sound like shorthand for the old-time socialist Left — but also for far-left-leaning baby boomers in general. Bruce Springsteen and Lauryn Hill point to young blacks and whites on the left, perhaps including, but not restricted to, openly socialist sympathizers. In short, the New Party was a mid-1990s effort to build a “progressive” coalition to the left of the Democratic party, uniting left-leaning baby boomers with minorities, relatively militant unionists, and “idealistic” young people.

To understand just how far left the New Party was, a list of some of its supporters is provided:

To get a sense of where the New Party stood politically, consider some of its early supporters: Barbara Dudley of Greenpeace, Steve Cobble political director of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coaltion, and prominent academics like Frances Fox Piven coauthor of the “Cloward-Piven strategy” and a leader of the drive for the “motor-voter” legislation Obama later defended in court on behalf of ACORN, economist Juliet Schor, black historian, Manning Marable, historian Howard Zinn, linguist Noam Chomsky, Todd Gitlin, and writers like Gloria Steinem, and Barbara Ehrenreich. Socialist? Readers can draw their own conclusions. At one point, Sifry does describe the party’s goals as “social democratic.” In any case, the New Party clearly stands substantially to the left of the mainstream Democratic party.

And as to Barack Obama's ties to ACORN which he claims were rather flimsy:

While ACORN played an important founding role for the New Party nationally, ACORN was clearly the main force behind the New Party chapter in Chicago. In general, New Party chapters build around an ACORN nucleus were the most disciplined and successful party outposts. Nationally, the New Party’s biggest wins were in Chicago, very much including Obama’s victory in his 1996 run for the Illinois state senate. Chicago’s New Party was actually formed around two core elements, ACORN and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 880. Yet, as Sifry notes, SEIU 880 was itself an ACORN offshoot.  

...As so often with ACORN, technically separate organizations are often relatively meaningless designations for different branches of ACORN itself. And in Chicago, the New Party was very much an ACORN-dominated operation. Ted Thomas was a city alderman, de facto ACORN leader, and New Party chair all at once. So Obama’s ties to the New Party represent yet another important, and still unacknowledged, link between Obama and ACORN.

We already know that Obama’s ties to ACORN’s Madeline Talbott ran deep. Less known is that Obama’s links to Chicago ACORN/New Party leader Ted Thomas were also strong. Thomas was one of a handful of aldermen who stood with Obama in his unsuccessful 2000 race for Congress against Bobby Rush. Obama is also had long-standing ties to SEIU Local 880, an ACORN union spin-off and a bulwark of Chicago’s New Party. In his 2004 race for the Democratic Senate nomination, SEIU Local 880 strongly endorsed Obama, citing his long history of support for the group.

So the fact that Obama received the New Party’s endorsement in his first run for office in 1995-96 cannot be dismissed as insignificant. On the contrary, Obama’s ties to the New Party, and the New Party’s backers at ACORN (often the very same people), are long-standing, substantial, and reveal a great deal about his personal political allegiances. Because it was a fusion party, the New Party did not require that all the candidates it endorsed be members. Yet the New Party’s endorsements were carefully targeted. There was no attempt to endorse candidates in every race, or even to set up nationwide chapters. Carefully selected races in carefully targeted cities were seized upon — and only when the candidate fit the profile of a decidedly left-leaning progressive Democrat. In this way, the New Party set out to form a hard-left “party within a party” among the Democrats.

So it is pretty obvious that Obama had very close ties to both New Party and ACORN. But was Obama actually a member of the New Party? Kurtz's research provides the answer:

...we now have substantial evidence that Obama himself was in fact a New Party member. We even have a photograph of Obama appearing with other successful New Party candidates. Clearly, then, it is more than fair to identify Obama with the hard-left stance of the New Party and its ACORN backers. In her recent study of ACORN and the Gamaliel Foundation, the two groups of community organizers to which Obama was closest, Heidi Swarts describes their core ideology as “redistributionist.” Joe the Plumber take note. Whether formally socialist or not, Obama ties with ACORN and its New Party political arm show that spreading your wealth around has long been his ultimate goal.

Check out that evidence link to Powerline to see the documentary proof that Obama was indeed a formal member of the New Party. Perhaps Wikipedia should take note since they removed Obama's name, identifying him as a member, on their New Party page. Not unlike Stalin airbrushing Leon Trotsky's picture out of early Soviet photographs. And the MSM is also airbrushing out large portions of Obama's leftwing past including his membership in the New Party and strong ties to ACORN. A point that Kurtz makes at the conclusion of his article:


At what point will the press force Obama to own up to the full extent of his ties to ACORN? At what point will the press demand a full accounting of Obama’s ties to the New Party? At what point will the depth of Obama’s redistributionist economic stance be acknowledged? Barack Obama is hiding the truth about his political past, and the press is playing along.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the press to display the slightest bit of curiosity about Obama's leftwing political past, Stanley. However, if it could be shown that John McCain once had dinner with a Dixiecrat... 

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.