The Buzz

Obama's Dreams from Frank Marshall Davis

The October issue of The American Spectator displays an article by Paul Kengor, political science professor at Grove City College, profiling Frank Marshall Davis, who mentored young Barack Obama during his formative years in Hawaii. Obama mentions Davis prominently in his early memoir, Dreams from My Father, but identifies him only as “Frank.”

But Kengor reveals that Davis, a journalist and polemicist, was a hard-core communist and Soviet sympathizer who displayed a hatred for Western leaders focused on thwarting Soviet expansionism during the Cold War. Indeed, Davis was identified by a Senate committee as a Communist Party member—in a report entitled, “Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States.” Called to testify before the committee, Davis invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Kengor’s piece offers a detailed portrait of Davis and his pro-Soviet passions. Given the man’s political outlook and his manifest hatred of many of the country’s postwar heroes (Truman, Acheson, Marshall), not to mention Winston Churchill, one wonders what kind of mentoring he offered the impressionable young Obama and what the youngster carried away from those sessions as he set out to pursue his destiny.

This is not to say that Davis turned Obama into an ideological communist, even for a time, or that the president is some kind of Manchurian Candidate of the left. But it is interesting that such a fascinating and provocative bit of the president’s history should be so blithely skipped over by the mainstream media in its pursuit of the president’s background and the ideological pathway he followed in becoming who he is. Certainly, if a Republican president had youthful associations that suggested he ventured beyond the American mainstream into radicalism of the right, the media would be all over that.

After all, this bit of information from the president’s past may help explain why he is such an ardent exponent of economic redistribution for America. Along with other past associations (with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for example, and 1960s radical Bill Ayers), the Davis connection offers potentially valuable insights into the president’s background and early thinking. Kudos to Kengor and TAS for this smart article.