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Senator Stealth
How to advance radical causes when no one's looking.


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Stanley Kurtz

AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I wrote “Senator Stealth,” just over two months ago, it still seemed realistic to expect that its revelations might stimulate press follow-up. After all, the Wright affair had occasioned significant media interest. Since Senator Stealth established that Barack Obama had intimate and long-standing ties to yet another organization with Wright-like anti-American views, the piece’s news value seemed obvious. The Wright affair was no fluke, but part of a systematic pattern. Unfortunately, as Obama moved closer to nominee status, the press circled the wagons and began its own systematic pattern of refusing to question or report on his past.

Beyond its revelation that Obama’s original community organizer home-base is pervaded by anti-Americanism, “Senator Stealth” foreshadows today’s debates over redistributionism, and shows that concerns over Obama’s radical “associations” cannot be separated from the most significant policy disputes of the campaign.

“Senator Stealth” also lays out a way of resolving the contradiction between Obama’s radical past and his apparently moderate present. After learning that incrementalism, rhetorical disguise, and ideological stealth are second nature to Obama’s community organizer compatriots, it’s tougher to take his current self-presentation at face value. More than two months later, the same issues play out in the latest flap over Obama’s ties to the New Party.

Finally, I couldn’t have guessed, more than two months ago, that the Obama campaign, abetted by the press, would have taken refuge in near-total denial of his unsavory associations, from the question of his New Party membership, to the relationship to Bill Ayers, to the links to ACORN. Obama has downplayed or denied these many ties to an extent that is shockingly at odds with the public record, while the press has played along.

As the race tightens, let us hope that, however belatedly, the sheer weight of questions and revelations are beginning to take their toll. — Stanley Kurtz

After hearing about Barack Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Fr. Michael Pfleger, and the militant activists of ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), it should be clear to everyone that his extremist roots run deep. But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has yet another connection with the world of far-Left radicalism. Obama has long been linked — through foundation grants, shared political activism, collaboration on legislation and tactics, and mutual praise and support — with the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, one of the least known yet most influential national umbrella groups for church-based “community organizers.”

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The same separatist, anti-American theology of liberation that was so boldly and bitterly proclaimed by Obama’s pastor is shared, if more quietly, by Obama’s Gamaliel colleagues. The operative word here is “quietly.” Gamaliel specializes in ideological stealth, and Obama, a master student of Gamaliel strategy, shows disturbing signs of being a sub rosa radical himself. Obama’s legislative tactics, as well as his persistent professions of non-ideological pragmatism, appear to be inspired by his radical mentors’ most sophisticated tactics. Not only has Obama studied, taught, and apparently absorbed stealth techniques from radical groups like Gamaliel and ACORN, but in his position as a board member of Chicago’s supposedly nonpartisan Woods Fund, he quietly funneled money to his radical allies — at the very moment he most needed their support to boost his political career. It’s high time for these shadowy, perhaps improper, ties to receive a dose of sunlight.

The connections are numerous. Gregory Galluzzo, Gamaliel’s co-founder and executive director, served as a trainer and mentor during Obama’s mid-1980s organizing days in Chicago. The Developing Communities Project, which first hired Obama, is part of the Gamaliel network. Obama became a consultant and eventually a trainer of community organizers for Gamaliel. (He also served as a trainer for ACORN.) And he has kept up his ties with Gamaliel during his time in the U.S. Senate.

The Gamaliel connection appears to supply a solution to the riddle of Obama’s mysterious political persona. On one hand, he likes to highlight his days as a community organizer — a profession with proudly radical roots in the teachings of Chicago’s Saul Alinsky, author of the highly influential text Rules for Radicals. Obama even goes so far as to make the community-organizer image a metaphor for his distinctive conception of elective office. On the other hand, Obama presents himself as a post-ideological, consensus-minded politician who favors pragmatic, common-sense solutions to the issues of the day. How can Obama be radical and post-radical at the same time? Perhaps by deploying Gamaliel techniques. Gamaliel organizers have discovered a way to fuse their Left-extremist political beliefs with a smooth, non-ideological surface of down-to-earth pragmatism: the substance of Jeremiah Wright with the appearance of Norman Vincent Peale. Could this be Obama’s secret?


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