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The Communist Mentor: Frank Marshall Davis

Also involved in the Packing-House Committee was the Canter family, whose patriarch Harry Canter served as secretary of the Boston Communist Party and ran for governor of Massachusetts in 1930 on the Communist Party ticket. Harry was the father of David Canter, who pleaded the Fifth before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. David Canter became mentor to David Axelrod.

Kengor untangles the web:

Frank [Marshall Davis] mentored Obama. The Canter family mentored David Axelrod, who helped get Barack Obama elected president [and who is now his Communications Director for his reelection campaign]. Vernon Jarrett’s daughter-in-law is Valerie Jarrett. Robert R. Taylor, Frank’s “anti-war” and “civil liberties” pal, was Jarrett’s grandfather. Valerie Jarrett and Axelrod became Obama’s top two presidential advisors.

To uncover Davis’s views, Kengor investigates Davis’s FBI file, the Congressional record, and Davis’s autobiographical and newspaper writing, including the nearly lost columns Davis wrote for the Atlanta Daily World from 1931 until 1934 (uncovered by Kengor’s intrepid researcher Spyridon Mitsotakis). In Chicago, Davis wrote for the Associated Negro Press, and then for the Communist Chicago Star. He moved to Hawaii in 1948 when the Honolulu Record, his last employer, was launched by the Communist Party of Hawaii. Kengor describes Davis’s columns as in “lockstep with Moscow,” and proves it with extensive quotations. He called himself a “progressive” and mocked anti-communists, but Davis was working as a propagandist to overthrow the United States government.

This could be dismissed as circumstantial in regards to Obama, except that Obama has never repudiated the Davis worldview which he treats sympathetically in his autobiography. Nor did he repudiate the doctrinaire Marxist ideology which he clung to as a student at Occidental College (recounted by Occidental alum and acquaintance John Drew). As Obama describes in Dreams, he sought out Marxists and like-minded ideologues of the left.

But Kengor leaves the analysis of Obama’s ideology to the reader, stating that his objective is not to prove or disprove Obama a communist -- which is only prudent. But by the same token, it would be extremely dishonest to deny this aspect that dominated the life of the mentor of our president. Today, the mentee of a communist subversive implements many of the policies for which his mentor agitated -- nationalizing the much-vilified General Motors and health care, as two of many examples. Cold War history is relevant.