Who Did You Know, Sen. Obama, and When Did You Know Them?

-By Frank Salvato

There has been much talk, both pro and con, about whether Sen. Barack Obama’s “associations” matter with regard to his qualifications to hold the office of President of the United States. This argument, this avenue of political discourse, misses the point. Whether or not Sen. Obama has associations with criminals, terrorists and other nefarious and infamous individuals pales in comparison as to whether he has been influenced by them.

We have heard the names of the people on the list of radicals and ne’er-do-wells that Barack Obama says he knows but doesn’t know; has worked with but hasn’t worked with; has taken money from but hasn’t taken money from. They include but are not limited to:

Williams Ayers, Saul Alinsky, Don Warden (aka Dr. Khalid Al-Mansour), Frank Marshall Davis, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Fr. Michael Pfleger, Rashid Khalidi, Tony Rezko, Franklin Raines, James Johnson, Nadhmi Auchi, Joseph Aramanda, Louis Farrahkan, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Kevin Wardally.

While it is legitimate to question whether it demonstrates good judgment to associate with such decidedly radical ideologues, it is more important to understand whether or not Sen. Obama has been influenced – at any point in his life – by any of these people.

The argument can be made that Sen. Obama has most certainly been influenced by the teachings of self-proclaimed socialist Saul Alinsky. In, Saul Alinsky’s best known and final work, Rules for Radicals, he mapped out a course of action for the counter-culture movement of the 1960s. It is in Rules for Radicals that Barack Obama found his model for his community organizing activities.

In the opening paragraph of the first chapter of Rules for Radicals, Alinsky writes:

“What follows is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

This opening sentiment lends itself to the socialist penchant for redistribution of wealth and creating a false equality among “the masses.” It certainly accounts for Sen. Obama’s belief that taking from those who earn, only to give it to those he would define as more deserving, is justified.

It can be argued that Sen. Obama was influenced by William Ayers, unrepentant terrorist and bomber of the US Capitol Building, free today only due to an evidence gathering technicality (it should be noted here that no trial is needed to determine Ayers guilt in his terrorism…he has admitted to the acts).

It is becoming more evident as each day passes that Ayers met a young Barack Obama on the Columbia University campus, or at least at common ground near the campus, where a plethora of anti-American and socialist and Marxist-leaning rallies took place. Both admit to attending these rallies and both were enrolled at Columbia; Ayers studying for his M.Ed in Early Childhood Education and Obama his B.A. in political science with a specialization in international relations.

While this supposition alone doesn’t prove any ideological symbiosis between Ayers and Obama, the fact that Obama channeled millions of dollars to Ayers’ “educational projects” when chairing the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, does.

In the person of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, we most certainly see someone who held influence with Barack Obama, so much so that Obama titled his second book, The Audacity of Hope, after one of the reverend’s sermons. To believe that Sen. Obama would be able to listen attentively enough to draw “wisdom” from one of Wright’s sermons so to include in a book while sitting in the pews of Trinity United Church of Christ for twenty years but not understand that Wright was a racist is to believe that the American public is completely devoid of intelligence.

These are only three of at least fifteen people of questionable character that Sen. Obama says he knows but doesn’t know; has worked with but hasn’t worked with; has taken money from but hasn’t taken money from, and the list gets more contentious as it goes on.

A person’s associations matter when one is running for the most important position in the United States, especially when there is no notable record to back-up one’s promises. Barack Obama’s legislative resume is paper-thin, consisting of an overwhelming number of politically calculated “present” votes which achieved nothing for his constituents, his bosses. This alone should negate his assertion that he is an agent of change; he is nothing of the sort and his voting record proves it.

But more important is the level of influence that some of the more radical of these associations had on Sen. Obama.

I don’t know too many people who spend a great amount of time among alcoholics who don’t drink and I don’t know of too many people who hang around drug addicts who don’t use drugs. Employing that logic, to have acquired so many associations to so many radical ideologues over such an extended period of time – a lifetime – it is impossible to believe that Barack Obama has not been influenced by their ideology.

Associations do matter. Influences matter even more.

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal . He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us

Copyright Publius Forum 2001