Big Mentor: The Troika—Obama, Axelrod, Jarrett
This is the second in a series of exclusive interviews with Dr. Paul Kengor, Cold War historian and professor of political science, who has just released a major book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor, based on declassified material from Soviet archives, FBI files, and archived articles from Communist Party publications. Among the material reproduced in Kengor’s book are reports from Davis’s 600-page FBI file listing Davis’s Communist Party number: 47544. Kengor’s book provides stunning information that the mainstream media has carefully avoided. Kengor’s expose is consistent with Breitbart.com’s Vetting project.
Breitbart.com: Professor Kengor, start with a quick recap of Frank Marshall Davis. Who was he and when did he meet Obama?
Kengor: Davis was a literal card-carrying communist. He joined the Communist Party in World War II. His Party work was so intense, and so pro-Soviet, that the old Cold War Democrats who ran the Senate committees called him to Washington to testify on his “Soviet activities.” The FBI had him under constant surveillance. He was considered such a potential threat that the federal government placed him on the Security Index, which meant he could be immediately arrested if a war broke out between the United States and the USSR.
Breitbart.com: And when and how did he meet Obama?
Kengor: He was introduced to Obama by Obama’s grandfather, Stanley Dunham, in 1970. Dunham was looking for a black-male role model/father figure for his grandson. Davis was a curious pick.
Breitbart.com: Apparently so. And most curious, you detail some amazing connections between Obama’s mentor and what you call the “political ancestors” of Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.
Kengor: I’ll start with Valerie Jarrett, who is Obama’s single closest adviser, like a sister to both the president and first lady.
When Frank Marshall Davis was in Chicago in the 1940s, he hooked up with every communist front-group under the sun—and there were tons of them. One of the worst was the American Peace Mobilization, which Congress correctly identified as “one of the most seditious organizations which ever operated in the United States”—“one of the most notorious and blatantly communist fronts ever organized in this country.” This group, in 1940, pushed to keep America out of the war against Hitler. Why? Because, at that point, Hitler had just signed an alliance with Stalin. American communists, being loyal Soviet patriots with a sworn allegiance to the USSR, always backed Stalin.
It’s a long story, but Frank Marshall Davis worked with this front group. And the 1944 Congressional report listing his involvement also lists the involvement of a fellow Chicagoan named Robert Taylor. Taylor was the grandfather of Valerie Jarrett.
Breitbart.com: This was actually Valerie Jarrett’s grandfather? He worked on this front-group with Frank Marshall Davis, Obama’s mentor?
Kengor: Yes, and that’s not the end of it. Taylor also served with Davis on the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee, another communist front whose members cloaked themselves as civil-rights crusading “progressives.” Both Taylor and Davis jointly served on the board together—meaning they were major players.
And there’s another Jarrett connection in this: Both Taylor and Davis knew another Chicago leftist, Vernon Jarrett. Vernon Jarrett and Davis teamed up on the small publicity team of the communist-controlled Packinghouse Workers Union; incidentally, Frank Marshall Davis publicly wrote a column calling for the nationalization of the meat industry. Vernon Jarrett ultimately became Valerie Jarrett’s father-in-law.
Breitbart.com: So, Obama’s mentor worked in communist fronts and activities with Valerie Jarrett’s father-in-law and grandfather?
Breitbart.com: For the record, for any doubters, you document all of this exquisitely in your book, with all the citations from the official Congressional reports and primary-source documents—and at great length. Now tell us about how David Axelrod comes into this picture.
Kengor: Axelrod was a native New Yorker who came to Chicago in the 1970s for college. He stayed there and began his career as a political reporter, specifically at a small publication called the Hyde Park Herald. He caught the eye of two leftists, David Canter and Don Rose, who became his mentors. He was constantly at the Canter home.
Breitbart.com: Tell us about the Canter family.
Kengor: There’s a lot of information in the book. It’s quite astonishing. I’ll try to be brief.
The Canter family had deep Soviet/communist roots. Before arriving in Chicago, David Canter and his family lived in Moscow. David’s father, Harry Canter, worked for Stalin’s government as an official translator of Lenin’s writings. Harry had been secretary of the Boston Communist Party and ran for governor of Massachusetts on the Communist Party ticket. He was hardcore.
When they got to Chicago, they worked with Frank Marshall Davis in a bunch of ways: Harry and Frank taught together at the communist Abraham Lincoln School. Harry and David and Frank all did work for the Packinghouse Workers Union. They marched in Chicago’s May Day parades. In fact, Harry is listed in the April 28, 1947 edition of Davis’s Chicago Star—the Communist Party newspaper of Chicago, for which Davis was the founding editor-in-chief—wishing “May Day Greetings.” When Davis and his comrades sold the Chicago Star to something called the “Progressive Publishing Company” in September 1948, Harry was one of the board members doing the purchase.
These are just a few examples.
Breitbart.com: Sum it up. Connect the dots again. We have this current troika in Washington—Obama and Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. Sum up their connections to communist Chicago in the 1940s.
Kengor: Sure. Obama was mentored by Frank Marshall Davis. Davis worked with the Canter family, who mentored David Axelrod. Davis also worked with Vernon Jarrett and Robert Taylor, father-in-law and grandfather to Valerie Jarrett. They all served together in Chicago’s Communist Party circles in the 1940s.
Breitbart.com: As you’ve said, this doesn’t mean that Obama and Jarrett and Axelrod are part of a nefarious communist plot, all closet CPUSA members.
Kengor: Of course, it doesn’t. That, naturally, is how the left will try to caricature this and dismiss it. They willfully close their eyes and laugh it off. What it does show, however, is how today’s Democratic Party was impacted by these far-left influences. Guys like Frank Marshall Davis realized that the Communist Party wasn’t viable and instead joined the Democratic Party. Davis even ran and got elected to a local Democratic precinct office in Hawaii. This began the long march to transform the Democratic Party from the party of Harry Truman and JFK to the party of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. All of this has pulled the party decidedly to the left. The folks running the White House today are the political godchildren of folks that the Democrats 50 years ago considered so radical that they investigated them.
Breitbart.com: Professor Kengor, thanks again for another illuminating interview. We look forward to learning more. Where should people go to get your book?
Kengor: Just click here for the Amazon link. I look forward to further discussions.
Paul Kengor is author of The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.