The Corner

Debs Rushes In

Once again, a Democratic activist who writes under the pseudonym “Eugene Debs” at FrumForum has claimed to refute the argument of my forthcoming book, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism. In that book, I make the case that President Obama is a socialist.

The odd thing about Debs’s latest post is his assumption that I have already made my case. Debs thinks he’s somehow brought my “entire argument” crashing to the ground. He even says: “Kurtz thinks he has proven a lot.” Proven a lot? I don’t begin to think that a few blog posts promising the imminent publication of a book of interest have proven that the president is a socialist. The book itself makes a powerful case, I believe, but the book has not yet appeared. Debs has rushed in to refute an argument he has not yet read and that I have not yet publicly made.

Radical-in-Chief addresses virtually every point Debs raises in his latest foray — including the public option, Obama’s relationship to the left wing of his party, his Afghanistan policy, etc. But it does so in light of a socialist past that deeply illuminates the specifics of Obama’s present. Why not wait until the book comes out to judge it? While posing as a bulwark against hot-headed conservatives, Debs himself, just by claiming to refute a book he hasn’t read, gives a pretty good exhibition of intellectual prejudice.

While Radical-in-Chief will take the matter up in detail, let me briefly address Debs’s core point in his latest piece. The fact of the matter is, a whole wing of American socialism has long sought to work within the Democratic party. That was Michael Harrington’s approach, along with that of most other “democratic socialists.” These socialists acted on the assumption that it was possible to be Democrats while also being socialists. They found the two identities complementary, yet distinct. By no means are all Democrats socialists, but many socialists are Democrats.

If Debs denies that it is possible to be both a Democrat and a socialist, he is mistaken. If, on the other hand, Debs agrees that it is possible to be both a Democrat and a socialist, but simply denies that Obama fits this category, why not wait to see my evidence and hear my argument?

It takes a bit of digging to unearth the president’s secrets, but it can be done. And contrary to what Debs implies, Obama’s political past has a great deal to do with his policies as president. As the author of two autobiographies (the first one, Dreams from My Father, highly misleading, I shall show), Obama based much of his own run for office on the relevance of his political past to his policies in the present. Obama’s socialist past has so much to do with his presidency that the two phases must be discussed in tandem. The past illuminates the present, but laying out the connections must await the publication of my book. In short, to form a reasoned judgment on my argument, it might be best to actually read Radical-in-Chief.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More