President Obama's Third Party Ties

National Review's Stanley Kurtz ties the president to membership in the hard-Left New Party.

National Review Online writer Stanely Kurtz has been tireless in his efforts to vet Barack Obama. His work in exposing the president's associations with radical leftists, despite solid evidence, has been dismissed as the efforts of a "right-wing hatchet man" or ignored altogether by a willfully oblivious mainstream media.

In 2008, Kurtz was hammered as someone "pushing a new crackpot smear" by Obama campaign website, Fight the Smears, for a column revealing that Mr. Obama "had been a member of, and endorsed by the hard-left New Party." He further noted that the New Left "functioned as the electoral arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)." In a piece published yesterday, Kurtz produced the proverbial smoking gun tying the president to the New Party.

"Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party," Kurtz writes. "He also signed a 'contract' promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office."

Kurtz then produced minutes of a meeting held on January 11, 1996 by the New Party's Chicago chapter:

"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."

When the original story broke in 2008, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt denied the president had ever been a member of the organization. Fight the Smears echoed that contention, declaring that:

“the truth is Barack has been a member of only one political party, the Democratic Party. In all six primary campaigns of his career, Barack has has run as a Democrat. The New Party did support Barack once in 1996, but he was the only candidate on the ballot in his race and never solicited the endorsement."

Politico blogger Ben Smith piled on as well. "Popping up in my inbox lately, and on some conservative blogs, is the allegation that Barack Obama was once a member of the Communist/Socialist/secretive/evil New Party, which is based (reasonably) on a New Party publication describing him in passing as a member," wrote Smith. Smith then called up New Party founder Joel Rogers, a University of Wisconsin professor, "who objected both to the characterization of the party and Obama's relationship to it." 

Rogers debunked the idea that Barack Obama was a member, contending that the new Party "didn’t really have members." That contention was "updated" in a subsequent email, when Rogers explained that the New Party had "no formal membership structure in the usual party sense of members, with people registering with election boards for primary and other restrictive elections...We did have regular supporters whom many called 'members,' but it just meant contributing regularly...Anyway, [Obama] certainly wasn't either. He was just a good candidate whom we endorsed."

Smith noted that La Bolt also denied Mr. Obama was a member of the organization. Thus, his entire "investigation" consisted of taking two Obama supporters at their word, something that was apparently sufficient evidence for a mainstream media that never pursued the issue any further.

Yet Kurtz completely debunks Rogers' contention that the New Party had no members with the group's own documents. First, he reveals a memo written by Rogers on January 29, 1996 in his capacity as head of the New Party Interim Executive Council. In it Rogers addresses “standing concerns regarding existing chapter development and activity, the need for visibility as well as new members.”

Kurtz further notes that internal New Party documents reveal an organization "practically obsessed with signing up new members," both nationally and in Chicago. Kurtz then writes about another New Party memo revealing an internal dispute between two factions in the Chicago branch "in which the leaders of one faction consider a scheme to disqualify potential voting members from a competing faction, on the grounds that those voters had not renewed their memberships."

Thus, Kurtz concludes, "the memo clearly demonstrates that, contrary to Rogers’s explanation, membership in the New Party entailed the right to vote on matters of party governance. In fact, Obama’s own New Party endorsement, being controversial, was thrown open to a members’ vote on the day he joined the party."

Kurtz then refutes the fallback assertion by Rogers that the New Party "was never about" socialism, a claim buttressed at the time by left-wing blogger Ann Althouse, who sarcastically contended that the organization "presented themselves not as socialists, but as left-leaning and progressive. I realize that for right wingers that counts as 'socialist,' but let's not be inflammatory."

Kurtz opts for accuracy:

"The documents reveal that the New Party’s central aim was to move the United States steadily closer to European social democracy, a goal that Mitt Romney has also attributed to Obama. New Party leaders disdained mainstream Democrats, considering them tools of business, and promised instead to create a partnership between elected officials and local community organizations, with the goal of socializing the American economy to an unprecedented degree."

"The party’s official 'statement of principles,' which candidates seeking endorsement from the Chicago chapter were asked to support, called for a 'peaceful revolution' and included redistributive proposals substantially to the left of the Democratic party."

At the end of his piece, Kurtz issues a challenge to the same "press that let candidate Obama off the hook in 2008," wondering if it "will now refuse to report that President Obama once joined a leftist third party, and that he hid that truth from the American people in order to win the presidency." Regardless, Kurtz promises further revelations of his own in the upcoming issue of National Review, further illuminating "the New Party’s ideology and program, Obama’s ties to the party, and the relevance of all this to the president’s campaign for reelection."

It was apparently easy for a media still enchanted with hope and change to ignore Kurtz's 2010 political biography of the president, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, a book exposing much of the president's radical leftist past. Tellingly, it was released one month before the 2010 election, in which a large majority of Americans refuted much of Barack Obama's hyper-partisan agenda. A mainstream media effort to ignore documented evidence--for the second time--may be impossible for one over-riding reason: Mitt Romney is not John McCain, and isn't going to be cowed into "dignified" silence by leftist threats of racism aimed at anyone bringing up the president's past associations.

Neither will Stanley Kurtz, who's doing exactly what any investigative journalist ought to be doing. For that he is to be congratulated.

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