August 26, 2011

Obama, Alinsky, Ayers, Dohrn - questions from the left

Even before Barack Obama was elected president, it was a favorite trope of wingnuts to call him a socialist or worse, based on him following in the footsteps of “radical” community organizer Saul Alinsky and “palling around with former Weather Underground members Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

True progressives, probably, should ask just the opposite question of the presupposition behind the wingnut statements, and wonder just how little that troika rubbed off on Obama.

Now, Alinsky is dead, so we can’t ask him for his take, but, we can ask, as far as ideology rather than methodology, just how much in Alinksy’s footsteps did Obama walk?

I’d have to say … not a lot. And, while I’ve not read Dreams from My Father, I have read Dave Mendell’s excellent bio of Obama, From Promise to Power, and he didn’t indicate any radicalism, or that close to it, in Obama’s community work. Of course, Alinsky never did anything radical himself.

And, we could ask Ayers and Dohrn, despite their relative domestication now, what they think of the Obama today - the Obama who doesn't confront racial issues on the domestic side, and who is a warmonger in Afghanistan, Libya (and possibly Syria next).

In fact, I'd love for a reporter to do just that.

That said, Obama, in his version of Clintonesque triangulation, would probably like it if they said they weren't going to vote for him this time around.

At the same time, exactly what answer Dohrn and Ayers gave ... or tried to avoid giving ... would show indeed how much they've "mellowed" ... or more ... since the '60s and '70s.

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