The History of a Book

Why did I write a book comparing Ronald Reagan and Whittaker Chambers? May I provide some history on that?

I came of age politically in the 1980s. After suffering through Richard Nixon’s Watergate, Gerald Ford’s caretaker presidency, and Jimmy Carter’s near-total ineptitude, I looked upon Reagan’s inauguration as a fresh start for America. Even Time magazine, in its cover story, seemed to agree with that assessment.

I followed political developments closely. This corresponded with working on my master’s degree and then my doctorate in history.

As a strong conservative, I rejoiced in what Reagan accomplished, while sometimes fearing he was becoming too squishy in his dealings with the USSR. Hindsight shows I was wrong to fear that. He knew what he was doing in helping bring down the Evil Empire.

At the same time, as I proceeded through my higher education, I read for the first time a book that had been recommended to me time and again: Witness by Whittaker Chambers.

I was mesmerized by the masterful writing, the poignant life story laid out within, and the message of the Christian response to the evils of communism.

So impressed was I by what Chambers had written that I began to include Witness in courses I taught. Further, I learned of the link between Chambers and Reagan, how reading Witness showed Reagan the reason why communism became attractive to people.

Chambers’s hard life, both in and out of communism, impacted Reagan to the point that he could quote portions of Witness from memory. When I went to the Reagan Library, I saw in the speechwriting files Reagan’s own handwritten annotations for inserting quotes from Chambers in his speeches.

During his presidency, Reagan also awarded Chambers, posthumously, the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the advancement of American liberty.

In his remarks on Chambers, Reagan noted,

“At a critical moment in our Nation’s history, Whittaker Chambers stood alone against the brooding terrors of our age. Consummate intellectual, writer of moving, majestic prose, and witness to the truth, he became the focus of a momentous controversy in American history that symbolized our century’s epic struggle between freedom and totalitarianism, a controversy in which the solitary figure of Whittaker Chambers personified the mystery of human redemption in the face of evil and suffering.

As long as humanity speaks of virtue and dreams of freedom, the life and writings of Whittaker Chambers will ennoble and inspire. The words of Arthur Koestler are his epitaph: ‘The witness is gone; the testimony will stand.’”

I also became aware of the key difference between Reagan and Chambers: the former was a supreme optimist with respect to the future of freedom, while the latter despaired that Western civilization would ever learn its lesson and freedom would be eclipsed.

The question then arose in my mind: who was closer to the truth? Is freedom/liberty the inevitable outworking of God’s design for man, or will man’s sinfulness inevitably lead to the collapse of freedom?

Was Reagan correct when he said that Marxism contained the seeds of its own destruction? Was Chambers right when he told his wife, upon leaving communism, that they were now joining the losing side?

Overall, was communism the real problem or was it something deeper—namely, the exaltation of man over God? Was communism perhaps only one manifestation of that deeper problem? Even if communism were to fall, would that really signal a brighter future for freedom?

All of those issues are what led me to research and write The Witness and the President. My research for this book was extensive. I’ve read everything Chambers wrote—all of his essays, his posthumous book Cold Friday, and letters to friends.

For Reagan, I read every speech he gave as president, as well as nearly every book on the market dealing with his life, both his background and his beliefs.

Both Reagan and Chambers based their beliefs about the future of freedom on their Christian faith, so the book is replete with an examination of their faith as well as how that played out in their outlook.

The book is endorsed by some excellent and renowned Reagan and Chambers scholars. Dr. Paul Kengor, a prolific author himself and expert on Reagan, wrote the foreword. Dr. George Nash, the preeminent scholar of America conservatism, also gave it an enthusiastic review. Richard Reinsch, author of a study of Chambers’s philosophy, and Dr. Luke Nichter, co-editor of volumes on the Nixon tapes, add their positive commentary as well.

All that to say, I believe I’ve offered in this book a unique comparative biography that will shed light on these two conservative icons. I’m hopeful that this short history of how this book came into being will inspire you to purchase a copy yourself. You can do that by going to this Amazon page.

You can also view my Facebook page dealing with the book and see what I’ve posted there. My sincere desire is to get the message out, a message that will challenge you perhaps, and that will make you think more deeply about the nature of man and the future of our civilization.

The Witness of William P. Clark

Historic moments and turning points aren’t solely the result of those who are well known. Readers of this blog are well aware of my deep appreciation for Ronald Reagan and his reversal of America’s suicide attempt of the 1960s-1970s. Yet Reagan didn’t do this by himself. There were others devoted to the same causes who worked side-by-side with him. One of the most unheralded was William P. Clark, who, after Reagan appointed him to the California Supreme Court, ever after was known as The Judge.

The JudgeThat’s the title of the book that admirably details the life and influence of Clark. Authors Paul Kengor and Patricia Clark Doerner trace the history of the Clark family from the first Clark settler of California to the man who would humbly wield influence behind the scenes at the White House. From the time Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966, Clark served practically as his alter ego. Associates would comment how the two men thought as one and perfectly complemented each other.

When Reagan took over the presidency in 1981, Clark came with him to Washington. He served first in the State Department because Reagan wanted “his man” there to keep things on track. In that post, Clark was able to navigate successfully the rapids often created by Secretary of State Al Haig.

After that tenure, Reagan brought Clark into the White House itself to be head of the National Security Council, arguably his greatest service to the president as he helped map the strategy to bring down the Soviet Union. The authors assert that, along with Reagan and Pope John Paul II, Clark has to be given a lion’s share of the credit for the success of that endeavor.

Once that strategy was well established, Reagan chose Clark to handle another tricky situation. He took over the reins of the Department of the Interior and brought calm and professionalism to an agency that had suffered turmoil in the first few years of the Reagan presidency.

In all these positions, Clark won not only the admiration of those who worked under him, but an enduring love and affection. He was the consummate professional who carried out his duties with love for God and others—and it showed. Clark’s Christian witness and his devotion to being whatever God wanted him to be guided his life.

The authors, in the final chapter, provide the ultimate praise for Clark when they write,

William ClarkWhat would Bill Clark have become if he had never met Ronald Reagan? Clark says he probably would have proceeded happily as a “cow town lawyer” and a rancher, of course, “like the other Clarks.” Providence—the Divine Plan—had something else in store, however, and William Patrick Clark became, quite unintentionally, the most famous Clark of them all, and yet not as famous as he could have been, had he dedicated himself to his own self-promotion.

“You talk about a dark horse in history,” says former NSC aide Roger Robinson, “there may have never been a greater dark horse than Bill Clark. . . . He was the keyplayer, nearly the whole show regarding the Soviet takedown. [Clark] and his President were all about setting some three hundred million people free. And isn’t it poetic, isn’t it fitting, that this quiet rancher, this unassuming guy, gave everyone else the credit? He wanted no credit for himself. And then he just walked away.”

William P. Clark, unsung hero, left this life on August 10, 2013, to spend eternity with the Lord he loved. The Judge is a wonderful witness to a life well lived, with no regrets. It has my highest recommendation.

The Case Against Barack Obama: Theology/Worldview

Most political analysts refuse to enter the field of theology and worldview. They prefer instead to just look at the externals of a person’s policies. Yet all externals proceed from what is internal. The questions need to be asked: What does a person believe to be ultimate reality? What principles guide his thinking? How are those ideas then translated into policy? For Obama, as with anyone, we must begin at the beginning.

Both of Obama’s parents were decidedly on the Left with respect to culture and politics. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was an American anthropologist. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Kenyan who resented and fought against British rule in his native country. That resentment pushed him into being a revolutionary.

Dunham and Obama met at the University of Hawaii and got married in 1961, with the younger Barack already on the way. Barack Sr. neglected to tell her he had a wife and children back in Kenya. After graduation, she stayed in Hawaii while he took off to Harvard for graduate studies. They were divorced in 1964.

The only time he saw his son after that was in 1971 when he visited Hawaii. So the son never really knew his father, yet for some reason, he practically idolized him. This romanticized version of dad helped lead him toward the anti-colonial views his dad held dear.

His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian also studying at the University of Hawaii. They moved to Indonesia. Although that marriage officially lasted until 1980, it was strained as Dunham became more enamored of Indonesian culture and Soetoro was drawn more and more into Western culture. Whereas Barack Sr. was an atheist at the time of his marriage to Dunham, his family had been Muslim. Soetoro also was Muslim. That has led to speculation by some that Obama is a closet Muslim as well. There’s no real evidence for that. He’s actually more of an anti-colonialist who sympathizes with Muslims because he perceives them as being an oppressed people by the West.

Soetoro’s Western leanings became the impetus for the young Obama to be sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham. They were also radical in their worldview and wanted to ensure that Obama was properly trained in that perspective. One can see that Ann Dunham obviously followed in her own parents’ footsteps ideologically.

In order to fulfill that mission, Stanley Dunham turned to Frank Marshall Davis to serve as a mentor for Obama. Davis was a committed communist who had joined the Communist Party early in World War II. He also was the founding editor-in-chief of the Chicago Star, a communist newspaper. In Davis’s columns for the Star, he wrote against Wall Street, profit-based companies, tax cuts, and anyone he considered wealthy. He also pushed for universal, government-sponsored healthcare and major public works projects. According to Grove City College professor Paul Kengor, who has recently authored a biography of Davis, Dunham introduced Obama to Davis in 1970, and until Obama left for college, he was his primary influence. As a result, when Obama entered Occidental College, he was a full-fledged Marxist. That insight, says Kengor, comes from Dr. John Drew, an acquaintance of Obama’s during that period of his life, and a Marxist himself at that time. Kengor comments of Drew,

He’s totally credible, no axe to grind, no story to sell. Drew contacted me because he knew I was researching Davis. Drew sees himself as the “missing link” between Obama’s time with Frank Marshall Davis and with later radicals like Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. . . . Drew told me about Obama’s belief in what Drew described as the “Frank Marshall Davis fantasy of revolution.” Drew, who was a more realistic, chastened Marxist, was stunned at Obama’s unwavering belief in the imminence of a Marxist revolution in the United States.

The link between Davis and later radicals. When Obama moved to Chicago, he came under the sway of Jeremiah Wright, so much so that he was a member of his church for twenty years. Wright performed the wedding between Barack and Michelle. Most people are aware of Wright’s most famous/infamous quotes, particularly his call for God to damn America. But most people don’t realize that Wright, bolstered by his radical black liberation theology, also claims that Jesus was black, that Israel is a terrorist state, and that the U.S. government created the HIV virus to carry out genocide against minorities. His “church” also supports terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Obama, during the 2008 campaign, distanced himself from Wright, straining belief by saying he had never heard Wright make those kinds of statements. After twenty years at the church? How credible can that be?

Wright had a mentor as well, a theologian by the name of James Hal Cone, who is considered the godfather of black liberation theology. He’s also Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary. So what does this distinguished theologian believe? Here are a few choice quotes:

  • Black hatred is the black man’s strong aversion to white society. . . . But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism.
  • All white men are responsible for white oppression.
  • Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man “the devil.” The white structure of this American society, personified in every racist, must be at least part of what the New Testament meant by the demonic forces.
  • We cannot solve ethical questions of the twentieth century by looking at what Jesus did in the first. Our choices are not the same as his. Being Christians does not mean following “in his steps.”
  • The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples. . . . There is no use for a God who loves white oppressors the same as oppressed blacks. . . . What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject God’s love.

So much for reaching out to those who disagree. So much for the nature of God as seeking to lead all men out of sin and into righteousness. For Cone and Wright—and by implication, Obama—Jesus is little more than the first human revolutionary. He is all about liberation from worldly oppressors, not liberating all men from sin.

A Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Cathleen Falsani, interviewed Obama about his faith in 2004. Here’s some of what he said:

I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, that we are connected as a people. . . . The difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and proselytize. There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they’re going to hell.

The columnist commented, “Obama doesn’t believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he’s not sure he’ll be going to heaven either.”

So what is Barack Obama’s worldview? He’s a devoted anti-colonialist with strong Marxist underpinnings who has adopted a false Christianity based on black liberation theology. This worldview is dangerous for the future of the United States. It’s not just theoretical with him; he is committed to carrying it out. This is the first, and most foundational, of all reasons to vote him out of office.