In The New York Times today appears "The President Is on the Line to Follow Up on Socialism," by Jeff Zeleny. The article's first three paragraphs:
Less than 90 minutes after Air Force One landed, the telephone rang. President Obama was on the line, wanting to add one more point to a response he gave during an interview with The New York Times.
On a flight from Ohio to Washington on Friday, Mr. Obama was asked whether his domestic policies suggested that he was a socialist, as some conservatives have implied.
“The answer would be no,” he said, laughing for a moment before defending his administration for “making some very tough choices” on the budget.
Obama's protestation aside, the article should have been balanced with an acknowledgment that implications the new president is a socialist are hardly limited to some conservatives.
Less than a decade ago, for example, the Chicago affiliate of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Obama for the state senate. They admiringly quoted him: "Few are thinking of harnessing the internal productive capacities, both in terms of money and people, that already exist in communities."
At the beginning of last year's primary season, the Communist People's Weekly World printed a letter celebrating an early Obama win:
Happy New Year and congratulations on a job well done. These have been trying times when the hyenas of war have again been turned loose on humanity by a greedy ruling class.
Now, beyond all the optimism I was capable of mustering, Mr. Obama won Iowa!. . .
Obama’s victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle. Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface. .
In August, the same publication carried an editorial written by Sam Webb, chairman of the Communist Party USA. Webb used the opportunity to give his comrades their marching orders:
In order to advance one iota of a pro-people’s agenda, the people’s movement has to elect Obama and to enlarge the Democratic Party majorities in Congress. Without that everything else is wishful thinking.
Days after the inauguration, Webb addressed a People's Weekly World event held in Cleveland and began:
I was standing on the Washington Mall on Inauguration Day, alongside nearly two million other people on Inauguration Day, and proudly watched the first African American take the oath of office in our nation’s history. That alone made the day deeply memorable, joyful, and historic. But I couldn’t help but think – and I’m sure that millions of others had the same thought – that the transfer of power from Bush to President Obama not only tore down a barrier that once was thought near impenetrable, but also signified the fading away of one era and the beginning of another.
It was hard not to think on that cold day in our nation’s capital that the worst of the past 30 years of right wing extremist rule is behind us and that an era of progressive change is within reach, no longer an idle dream.
Later in his address, Webb observed:
We now have not simply a friend, but a people's advocate in the White House.
Joelle Fishman is the chair of the political action committee of the Communist Party USA. On the party's Web site she analyzed the election results. The article started:
Congratulations on an extraordinary history making election!
We can think back with pride to decades of hard work toward our strategic goal of a big enough, broad enough and united enough labor and all-people’s movement that could overcome the ultra-right blockage to all progress. That all people’s movement has come to life, it is dynamic and it has the potential to keep growing.
The election of Barack Obama and a strengthened Congress creates new conditions in our country. There is now the possibility to shift gears and move forward. This new day requires us to further develop our tactics in order to continue to deepen and broaden labor and people’s unity. . .
The tears of joy we all shared as crowds gathered to watch the election results here and throughout the world dramatize the new moment we are in.
Socialists and Communists may argue that Obama isn't radical enough, that he's much too conservative to be deemed a socialist. Yet their enthusiastic support and words belie that contention. Not just "some conservatives" have implied Obama is a socialist. People on the far left have given some might big hints.