Posted on | March 4, 2012 | 37 Comments
The cover story of the March print edition of The American Spectator is not yet online and, if you are not yet a subscriber to the magazine, I urge you to rush out to the nearest Barnes & Noble or wherever else you can buy a copy, because it’s definitely worth the $5.95 newstand price.
Presidential historian Paul Kengor has dug up some fascinating facts about the background of David Axelrod, showing President Obama’s top political strategist to have deep ties to the American Communist Party (CPUSA) and other leftist individuals and organizations.
For example, Axelrod’s mother, Myril Bennett Axelrod, worked for the left-wing New York newspaper, PM. Although it lasted less than a decade (1940-48), PM became notorious because of its penetration by Stalinists and others who promoted the Communist Party line on issues both foreign and domestic. Kengor points out that PM‘s famed Washington correspondent, I.F. Stone, was subsequently identified as a Soviet agent both in the so-called “Venona” documents and also by a former top KGB official, Oleg Kalugin.
It is unclear where Axelrod’s mother fit in the orbit of Communists, Soviet sympathizers and other “progressives” who worked at PM, Kengor says, because despite “scouring reel upon reel of microfiche” copies of the newspaper, he was “unable to find a single article with Myril’s byline.” Nevertheless, her association with the paper locates her politics on the far-left fringe of the American politic spectrum in the 1940s, which would seem important to understanding her son’s later activities.
While a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1970s, David Axelrod began working as a political reporter for the Hyde Park Herald, which Kengor says brought Axelrod to the attention of Don Rose and David Canter. Both of these men were associated with the Communist Party and other far-left organizations.
Kengor explains that David Canter’s father, Harry Canter, was “an instructor at the Abraham Lincoln School, an infamous Chicago-based [CPUSA] front that instructed pupils in the teachings of Marx and Lenin.” David Canter followed in his Communist father’s footsteps, so that a 1970 congressional investigation report, “Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications,” lists David Canter 25 times. His Chicago-based publishing company was believed to be partly subsidized by Soviet funds and in the 1960s, Kengor writes, “David Canter and Don Rose joined forces to start a [Chicago-area] community newspaper called Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices.”
This Canter-Rose publication “was on the far left,” Kengor writes. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices editorialized for the abolition of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), whose investigations had exposed the pro-Soviet subversive activities of both David Canter and his father Harry. At a time when U.S. troops were fighting communism in Vietnam, Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices also published “pro-Hanoi screeds by [Students for a Democratic Society] members based in Chicago,” Kengor writes.
Don Rose was associated with SDS (the left-wing campus organization from which Bill Ayers’s terrorist splinter group Weather Underground spun off in 1969) and was also a member of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, commonly known by the slang term “the Mobe.”
Rose and Canter played a critical role as “mentors” to young David Alexrod, Kengor explains, citing numerous sources including David Canter’s son Marc Canter for the fact that it was a letter of recommendation from Don Rose that helped Axelrod land a job as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. By 1987, all three of these men — Don Rose, David Canter and David Axelrod, who had left journalism to become a paid political adviser — were part of the campaign to re-elect Harold Washington as Chicago’s mayor.
Kengor’s American Spectator article is important because Axelrod’s background — like Obama’s associations with such left-wing figures as Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayers — shows how ideas, policies and rhetoric originating in Marxist-Leninist doctrine and anti-American propaganda have been “mainstreamed” into Democratic Party politics.
Critics of Kengor’s investigative report will likely raise the charge of “McCarthyism,” expecting us to miss the irony of that accusation because, of course, revelations from the Venona papers and other sources have largely vindicated Sen. Joseph McCarthy: There were Soviet agents in the U.S. government, and the American Communist Party was at all times an instrument of Soviet subversion.
What strikes me, in Kengor’s extensive account of Axelrod’s background (the article is more than 5,000 words long), is the remarkable degree to which Americans seem to have lost their horror of Communism in the post-Cold War era. There was a time when anyone with such clear connections to the world of Marxist subversion would have been regarded as an untouchable in mainstream American politics. But if a far-left agitator like Obama could be elected president, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that no one is alarmed by the far-left background of his chief political strategist.