Weekly Featured Profile: David Axelrod
Like the President himself, Axelrod came out of the orbit of the Communist Party USA.
Axelrod was born in New York in 1955 to leftist parents Joseph Axelrod and Myril Bennett Axelrod.
In the 1940s, Myril Axelrod wrote for a left leaning New York magazine, PM. Though not officially a communist publication, several Marxists (including Labor Editor Leo Huberman) and Communist Party USA members worked on the paper.
Former Communist Eugene Lyons, writing in The Red Decade:
The Stalinist Penetration of America, noted that PM’s staff included a former editor of the Daily Worker, former editor of The Communist, a leader of the Young Communist League USA, a Soviet government official and a former staff cartoonist for the Daily Worker, the official newspaper of the Communist Party USA.
In his early years as a political consultant, Axelrod, following in the footsteps of his mentor, the political strategist Don Rose, carved out a reputation for himself as a skillful specialist working for local progressive candidates…says Rose. “I think he’s a principled, generally progressive guy…”
Axelrod first met Rose in the early 1970s while studying political science at the University of Chicago and working as a reporter on the Hyde Park Herald.
Around that time, Rose edited and co-owned a small newspaper called the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices. The paper tended to follow the Communist Party USA line – campaigning for example to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The Voice’s co-owner, the late David Canter, had personal experience with the committee, being hauled before it and named as a Communist Party USA member in the late 1960s.
Canter and Don Rose took the young David Axelrod under their wing. They took it upon themselves to “mentor” and “educate…politically,” the young journalist. Don Rose later wrote a reference letter for Axelrod that helped win him the internship at the Chicago Tribune which launched his career.
“David Axelrod did not work for the Voices at any point. He was a reporter for the HP Herald while attending U of C, appearing on the scene first in 1975, just after the Voices folded–but he was familiar with our paper as a student before he got the Herald job. Your dad and i “mentored” and helped educate him politically in that capacity, which is perhaps why you may recall seeing him hanging around the house. I later wrote a reference letter for him that helped him win an internship at the Tribune, which was the next step in his journalism career.”
The Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Executive Director was Communist Party USA member Richard Criley. Other party members in leading positions included Abe Feinglass, Ernest DeMaio, Jack Spiegel, Jesse Prosten and Norman Roth.
Other radicals active in the organization included former Communist Party USA member Milt Cohen (later a founder of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America), Quentin Young, Timuel Black and Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. The latter three all went on to join Democratic Socialists of America and to form close personal friendships with Barack Obama.
David Canter was the son of Harry Canter, a secretary of the Boston Communist Party USA. In the mid-1930s, Harry Canter moved his family, including his son David to the Soviet Union, where he worked translating Lenin’s works into English.
By the 1940s, they were living in Chicago, both active members of the Communist Party.
By 1960, David Canter had teamed up with well known Chicago Communist Party member, LeRoy Wolins.
The pair owned a company called Translation World Publishers, which specialized in publications from and about the Soviet Union. The company soon attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which suspected Canter and Wolins of being conduits for Soviet propaganda. In a report prepared by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in May and July 1962, entitled “Communist Outlets for the Distribution of Soviet propaganda in the United States,” David Canter was heavily quizzed about payments his company received from the Soviet Union.
After the U.S. Government demanded that Translation World Publishers register as the agent of a foreign power, Canter de-registerd the company.
The Committee went on to find that:
Translation World Publishers was an outlet for the distribution of Soviet propaganda…this publishing house was subsidized by Soviet funds and was created by known Communists to serve the propaganda interests of the U.S.S.R.
So David Axelrod learned his trade at the hands of a Communist front activist and a bona fide Communist Party member who was paid by the Soviets to distribute communist propaganda in the United States.
Read more here.