Tag Archives: ACORN

Obama on the Fringe

The president belonged to a social-democratic third party

By  Stanley  Kurtz – The National Review – June 25, 2012

In 1996, during his first run for public office, Barack Obama formally joined a leftist third party called the New Party. Its Chicago chapter served as the de facto political arm of the now-defunct group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Ideologically, the New Party sharply differentiated itself from what it took to be the business-dominated Democratic party of Bill Clinton, identifying instead with the social-democratic movements of Europe.

The claim that Obama had been a member of the New Party gained attention from conservatives during the final two weeks of the 2008 campaign, but—even though it rested on consider­able evidence—it was never widely reported or discussed in the mainstream press. When I asserted on National Review Online in late October 2008 that Obama had indeed been a member of the New Party, the Obama campaign called my charge a “crack­pot smear.” Through its Fight the Smears website, it insisted that its candidate had never been a member, and had “never solicited” the New Party’s endorsement.

Documentary evidence—obtained from ACORN files re­cently donated to the Wisconsin historical Society—now con­tradicts this claim, and establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that Barack Obama did solicit the endorsement, and become a member, of the New Party. Like other candidates who received its endorsement, Obama signed a “contract” in which he pro­mised not only to join the group but also to publicly support and associate himself with it while in office.

The minutes of the public meeting of Chicago’s New Party on January 11, 1996, read as follows: “Barack Obama, candi­date for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party ‘Candidate Contract’ and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.” Consistent with these minutes, a roster of the Chicago chapter jpf the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, giving January 11,1996, as the date he joined. All evi­dence now points to an attempt by Obama in 2008 to deceive the American public about this important political affiliation in his past.

Obama’s New Party problem must be seen as part and parcel of his attempts to distance himself from ACORN. During his third debate with John McCain, Obama claimed that the “only” involvement he’d had with ACORN was to represent the group in a lawsuit compelling Illinois to implement the motor-voter law. The ACORN archives clearly contradict him, and provide evidence that he had deal­ings with ACORN well beyond representing it in a single law­suit.

Why did Obama falsely deny his ties to ACORN? His sup­port for its voter-registration efforts in Chicago and his participation in its training seminars doubtless would have been embarrassing, given its thuggish tactics, its fraudulent voter registrations, and its role in abetting the subprime-loan fiasco at the root of the 2008 financial crisis. But they would not likely have been seriously damaging for him to confess, especially in 2008, when the press was treating him with kid gloves. Ad­mitting to having joined a leftist third party controlled by ACORN, on the other hand, could have been damaging indeed. The records of ACORN’s national office, as well as those of several local affiliates, including Illinois ACORN and the ACORN-controlled Chicago Local 880 of the Service Em­ployees International Union (SEIU), can be found in the ar­chives of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Until recently, these records did not include material more recent than about 1994. My political biography of President Obama, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, made use of these records to sketch a detailed picture of ACORN’s operations in Chicago and beyond, and of Obama’s ties to the group. Then, apparently sometime around 2010, the records of Illinois ACORN were updated, with especially strong coverage of the mid to late 1990s, and some records extending well into the 2000s. In what follows, I will concen­trate on information in the updated Illinois ACORN records about Obama’s ties to the New Party, drawing on older archival material when necessary to fill out the picture.
The Chicago New Party was founded in 1992. Not much later, in February 1993, a New Party memo identified Obama as someone worth recruiting, and made special note of his desire to run for office. The early New Party was run jointly by Madeline Talbott, the leader of Illinois ACORN, and Keith Kelleher, the head of SEIU Local 880. In July 1993, Kelleher met with Obama to interest him in working with the New Party, and with a New Party-controlled front group called Progressive Chicago. Since many Chicago-leftists were reluc­tant to alienate the Democrats by joining a third party, working with Progressive Chicago gave them a way to help the New Party indirectly. Progressive Chicago also served as a base for eventual recruitment to the New Party itself.

Obama told Kelleher that he was “more than happy to be involved” in New Party and Progressive Chicago affairs, while also saying that he would be cautious about anything that might offend regular Democrats. Since the New Party intended to make frequent use of the tactic of “fusion” (endorsement of select progressive candidates running on the Democratic-party line), it was perfectly content to allow its members to be Democrats as well. Yet many Democrats looked on the New Party with suspicion, and it took real courage—and commit­ment to hard leftism—to have dealings with the group. Continue reading

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