In the ongoing discussion of Barack Obama’s involvement with Chicago’s extremist “New Party,” online literature from the Party likely reveals that the young state senator not only was a member but had to commit financially tomembership.
This past week, National Review author Stanley Kurtz revived the question of whether or not Obama was ever a member of the Party. Arguing for the affirmative, Kurtzdemonstrates fairly conclusively that it did. On the other hand, Joel Rogers, founder of the New Party, tells Ben Smith that it did not. And documents available online suggest that Kurtz is correct and that Rogers is not being completelytruthful.
First, there’s a bit more background which is relevant here. Kurtz originally raised the question of Obama’s involvement with the New Party back in 2008. At the time, the campaign denied Obama was ever involved and referred to the allegation as a “crackpot smear.” Ben Smith, then at Politico, wrote a piece in which he quoted New Party founder Joel Rogers to the effect that Obama had never been a member of the New Party because the New Party didn’t havemembers.
On Thursday, Kurtz announced the discovery of new documents that supported his original claim. In particular, he found minutes of a 1996 New Party meeting whichread:
Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the NewParty.
Friday, Ben Smith conceded that this proves the White House was wrong when it claimed in 2008 that Obama had never sought an endorsement. However, Joel Rogers is sticking to his claim that the New Party never had members, telling Ben Smith, “‘I have no idea what the Chicago people were saying about him being a member,’ he said. ‘We didn’t have membership, it wasn’t a membershiporganization.'”
The problem with this is that the New Party website–earlier drafts of which still exist in the internet archive–mention membership repeatedly and, as we’ll see, even define what membership meant. Here’s the 1999 version…(readmore)