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Stanley Kurtz on Obama’s “lost years”

August 3rd, 2008 - 8:56 am

Reviewing the forty-plus columns that Barack Obama wrote for the Hyde Park Herald and the Chicago Defender between 1995, when he entered politics, and 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate, Stanley Kurtz provides a revealing and disturbing glimpse into the formative opinions and associations of the presumptive Democratic candidate for President.

Reportage in these two papers is particularly significant because Obama’s early political career–the time between his first campaign for the Illinois State Senate in 1995 and his race for U.S. Senate in 2004–can fairly be called the “lost years,” the period Obama seems least eager to talk about, in contrast to his formative years in Hawaii, California, and New York or his days as a community organizer, both of which are recounted in his memoir, Dreams from My Father. The pages of the Hyde Park Herald and the Chicago Defender thus offer entrée into Obama’s heretofore hidden world.

What they portray is a Barack Obama sharply at variance with the image of the post-racial, post-ideological, bipartisan, culture-war-shunning politician familiar from current media coverage and purveyed by the Obama campaign. As details of Obama’s early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, Reverend James Meeks, Bill Ayers, and Bernardine Dohrn look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political partnerships. At his core, in other words, the politician chronicled here is profoundly race-conscious, exceedingly liberal, free-spending even in the face of looming state budget deficits, and partisan. Elected president, this man would presumably shift the country sharply to the left on all the key issues of the day-culture-war issues included. It’s no wonder Obama has passed over his Springfield years in relative silence.

Read the whole eye-opening column in The Weekly Standard here.

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