Does it matter?  Isn’t Barack Obama’s past as a radical “community organizer” just a dead datum in the historical dossier?  Shouldn’t we be rather concerned with the present — and with the future?  Not quite. As Thomas Mann [or whoever it was] famously put it, the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past. “It could be argued,” Kurtz writes, “that Obama’s past no longer matters.” But he argues, on the contrary, that “when it comes to Obama, the past, in a sense, matters more than the present. Only the president’s socialist past reveals the full meaning of his plans for the future. The president himself won’t honestly tell you his ultimate intentions.” What are those intentions? Kurtz shows in sobering detail that Obama’s intentions now are exactly what they were when he cut his teeth as a “community organizer” in Chicago. The agenda is socialism, but just as modern militaries employ stealth technology to camouflage their armament, so socialists in a capitalist country dissemble about their real goals. Occasionally, the mask falls, as when Obama admitted to Joe the plumber that he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” Generally, though, the socialist ambitions are semi-concealed. It’s a strategy of what Kurtz calls “stealth socialism.”  The goal, Kurtz writes, is  “to push the country into socialism well before the public can figure out what’s happened. Stealth-socialism community organizers habitually disguise their long-term goals. That is why we must turn to Obama’s past to discover the hidden ideological underpinnings of his policies.”

Radical-in-Chief is an important work of historical investigative reporting. But like its subject, its relevance is not so much what happened then, but what is happening  now. Obama is not yet two years into what might be an eight-year tenure. Already he has altered the course of this country away from the principles that informed its founding — principles that revolved around the ideals of limited government and personal liberty. He might have more than six additional years to complete the fundamental transformation he boasted about on the campaign trail. Stanley Kurtz’s book helps us understand the lineaments of that ambition and, I fervently hope, will help to supply the friends of liberty with the backbone to push back.