In the same week the Obama campaign quietly removed from its official website a page managed by a fundraiser tied to the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, its official blogger has come under attack as a “hardcore Marxist” for hanging a Communist Party flag in his Harvard campus apartment and publishing in a self-professed ‘revolutionary Marxist’ journal.
Sam Graham-Felsen, a journalist-on-leave from The Nation, joined Obama for America in March 2007 where he works for the New Media department as the official blogger, daily presenting the campaign’s public face. Now he’s under fire for his reputed Marxist sympathies from bloggers at Common Ills on the left and Little Green Footballs on the right.
Graham-Felsen, according to a 2003 article in the Harvard Crimson, adorned one corner of his shared student apartment with “a Communist Party flag … bought on their trip to Russia the summer after sophomore year.”
The revelation echoes an earlier public relations problem in February when a Houston Fox TV affiliate captured images of a volunteer in an Obama campaign office working in front of a flag featuring the image of Che Guevara, the South American revolutionary who became Fidel Castro’s executioner after the communist takeover in Cuba.
At that time, the Obama campaign issued a statement calling the flag “inappropriate” and noting that the office where it was displayed was funded by “volunteers” and was not the official campaign headquarters.
Graham-Felsen, however, is not a volunteer, but a staff member according to information published on the Huffington Post taken from the Obama for America campaign 2007 second quarter report.
In 2003, Graham-Felsen participated in a labor march in France that Associated Press reported ended in violent riots – a characterization he disputed in The Nation. His coverage of the 2003 French protests against a new employment law again appeared in 2006 in Socialist Viewpoint, a journal that proudly proclaims its Marxist point of view:
The Socialist Workers Organization was formed to advance the revolutionary Marxist political program in the United States. Our members are long time active participants in the socialist and labor movements. We agree with Karl Marx that society is divided into social classes whose interests are irreconcilable. …
Socialism, the ownership and democratic control of the means of production by the working class, and the removal of profit from the system of production, is the aim of Socialist Viewpoint, which reflects the political views of the Socialist Workers Organization. Socialism is the prerequisite for the next stage in human development that will end class oppression and exploitation for all time.
Common Ills also took Graham-Felsen to task for a 2003 Harvard Crimson article he wrote praising Noam Chomsky’s “amazing ability to reason” and “the power to make the left make sense,” while bemoaning his unwillingness to curb his radical rhetoric to increase his effectiveness.
“Unfortunately, Chomsky continues to squander this potential by making decisions that destroy his credibility in the eyes of most Americans,” Graham-Felsen wrote.
“In perhaps his most infamous move, on the day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Chomsky stated: ‘The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton’s bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people.’ As a result of his poor timing and unwillingness to moderate his tone, his message was lost to anyone not already on the extreme left. He sounded callous and dogmatic; instead of provoking change, he provoked disgust.”
Graham-Felsen’s writings, wrote the Common Ills blooger, have destroyed his own credibility:
“And exactly what is a Democratic candidate doing with a staffer who acts as the campaign’s public face when the staffer is featured in a Marxist publications? All of the above is public information. I could add a great deal of private information but we’ll stick with the public information and wonder exactly how Sam made it onto Obama’s staff and, considering all the above, why anyone should trust a word Sam says?
“His problem with Chomsky wasn’t Chomsky’s beliefs, he just felt they could be watered down to trick people. If Sam believes, as the magazine he published in does, that ‘Socialism is the prerequisite for the next stage in human development that will end class oppression and exploitation for all time,’ would he tell people straight or water it down with a lot of hope and change buzz words?”
Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson was less politick, calling Graham-Felsen “a hardcore Marxist.”