Historian Paul Kengor has been doing a circuit of right-wing talk shows, promoting his new book, “The Communist” which ties President Obama to a childhood family friend, the labor activist and writer Frank Marshall Davis. Although Kengor refuses to comment on filmmaker Joel Gilbert’s hypothesis that Davis is actually the president’s biological father, he argues that a direct line can be drawn between Davis’ Communist writings and the president’s support of universal health care, advocacy for the middle class, and even his “Change” and “Forward” slogans.
In an interview with Janet Mefferd this week, Kengor painted Davis as a sinister and strange influence on the young Obama’s life. Echoing Mike Huckabee’s accusation that the president has a “different worldview” because he grew up with “madrassas” rather than “going to Boy Scouts,” Kengor marveled that Obama’s grandfather chose Davis as a mentor for his grandson rather than “a Boy Scout troop master, a little league coach.” Not only that, but Obama’s grandfather and Davis “would even smoke dope together.”
“So I tell people, I honestly feel bad for Obama. This wasn’t exactly a wholesome, Norman Rockwell upbringing,” he added.
Kengor: In 1970, Stanley Dunham was looking for a black male father figure, mentor, role model for his grandson because the father was gone. So, right there, Janet, you or I, we have sons, grandsons, we’d probably pick as a mentor a boy scout troop master, a little league coach.
Mefferd: Yeah, someone upstanding.
Kengor: I mean, to think that you’d pick a card-carrying member of Communist Party USA, called to Washington to testify on his quote-unquote Soviet activities by the Democratic-run Senate Judiciary Committee, is kind of remarkable and kind of revealing.
Kengor: But that’s who Stanley Dunham picked. And Stanley Dunham and Frank Marshall Davis were real close. They’d play cards together, Scrabble, drink together. One person named Donna Weatherly Williams, who was there when Dunham introduced Obama to Davis in 1970, says that Davis and Dunham would even smoke dope together.
Mefferd: Oh boy.
Kengor: And, I mean, here you’ve got, at that point Frank Marshall Davis would have been about 65 years old. So I tell people, I honestly feel bad for Obama. This wasn’t exactly a wholesome, Norman Rockwell upbringing.
Mefferd: No, awfully dysfunctional.
Kengor: Very dysfunctional, very.
Later, Kengor revisited the right-wing meme that President Obama somehow hates Winston Churchill because he removed George W. Bush’s bust of Churchill when he redecorated the Oval Office. This hatred of Churchill, according to Kengor, could very well have been instilled by a drunken rant of Frank Marshall Davis:
Kengor: If you would have asked me five years ago, or anybody in America five years ago, name one American who doesn’t like Winston Churchill…
Mefferd: Now we know!
Kengor: Nobody, yeah. Then suddenly in January 2009, well we have one: Obama. And now we know of another: Obama’s mentor. And actually, I should add, as a Cold War historian, I did know of Americans who didn’t like Churchill. It was members of Communist Party USA and the Daily Worker. So Davis was towing the Soviet line, the Communist Party line. Does this mean that Obama doesn’t like Churchill because of Davis? I can’t say that for sure, but I mean these guys met many times together, at least over a dozen times together, and late evenings. And you know Davis was always very political, always talking about politics, drank a lot, could be very incendiary in his comments. And I’m sure that Obama must have heard a few diatribes against Winston Churchill by Frank Marshall Davis.