The History of The Politician
In December, 1954, I wrote a long letter to a friend, in which I expressed very severe opinions concerning the purposes of some of the top men in Washington.
Those who remember personally the founder of The John Birch Society and his tendency towards verbal thoroughness will appreciate the understatement in his reference to “a long letter to a friend.” Though he could be brief when brevity was called for, Robert Welch did not place limits on expanding his thoughts to whatever degree he deemed necessary to prove his case.
In the days before e-mail and other high-speed electronic communications, letter writing was a prime means of sharing ideas. Few had mastered the art like Robert Welch, and he frequently used that ability to maximum advantage. His position as a leader in the business community — serving seven years as a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers and two and one-half years as the chairman of NAM’s Education Committee — afforded him a natural forum for the exchange of ideas concerning the state of our nation.
As his circle of personal acquaintances expanded, Mr. Welch became a close confidant of and campaigner for Robert Taft during the senator’s 1952 presidential campaign. He met personally with such world leaders as President Syngman Rhee of Korea, President Chiang Kai-shek of China, and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of Germany.
Gregarious by nature, Robert Welch could be a witty conversationalist. He was never at a loss for words or hesitant to express his opinion. But he favored the written word to convey more complex ideas. Therefore, he relied heavily on letter writing to seek the advice of experienced national and world leaders, such as those we’ve mentioned, and to share his own observations in return. The Politician began as just such an observation.
Robert Welch was rarely satisfied with anything he wrote. He constantly edited, rewrote, and updated his work. Such was the case with his letter about “some of the top men in Washington.” As he tells the story:
Carbon copies of my letter were sent to a few other friends, who in turn asked for copies for their friends. So that by 1956 the letter had grown, through revisions and additions at the time of each new typing, to sixty thousand words. And we had begun to refer to it as the manuscript of The Politician. But it was still available in carbon copies only. In 1958, however, when the letter had now become eighty thousand words, and when I had decided not to make any more additions or revisions, I had this final version typed carefully in my own office, ran off a limited number of copies of each page by offset printing, and put those pages together in a punch-hole binding for the convenience of any other readers to whom it would be sent — as well as to save our retyping so long a document.
During the summer and early fall of 1958, Robert Welch continued to mail out five to 15 copies of his printed manuscript each month. Each bore a message on its introductory page explaining that the work was not a book, was never intended for publication, and was still of the nature of “a long letter to a friend.” The writer mailed the manuscripts on loan and in confidence to individuals he regarded as friends, with each copy being numbered and the name of its intended recipient recorded.
Though many who read the work urged Mr. Welch to publish the document in book form, he adamantly resisted their suggestions. Subsequently he recalled: “[B]ecause of new forces and new leaders now appearing on the scene, we were allowing this whole ‘letter’ to fade out of the picture.”
And fade out of the picture it might have — were it not for a new project of its author. Soon after completing the last major revision of his “long letter,” Robert Welch set aside most of his other interests — including a very successful career in candy manufacturing — and spent the months of October and November of 1958 preparing for a two-day presentation that began on December 8th of that year. The purpose of that meeting, to which Welch had invited a handful of (in his words) “influential and very busy men,” was to found an organization that, in its goals and methodology, would have no precedent in recorded history.
The organization, of course, was The John Birch Society, and the complete transcript of Mr. Welch’s two-day presentation has been compiled as The Blue Book of The John Birch Society.
The founding of The John Birch Society did nothing to change the status of The Politician. Robert Welch still regarded the work as his private opinions expressed in an unpublished, confidential manuscript. He did not quote from The Poltician publicly or recommend it to members of the Society.
In July 1960, however, The Politician suddenly and unexpectedly became news. Jack Mabley, a columnist with the Chicago Daily News, unleashed a vicious attack on Robert Welch and The John Birch Society. Mabley’s two consecutive daily columns were timed to coincide with that year’s Republican National Convention, which drew political activists from all over the nation to Chicago. As Mr. Welch recounted the story:
This columnist based his attack on direct quotations from The Blue Book of the Society, and from The Politician. (From the intrinsic evidence of his column we can tell that the copy of the latter document, which he had got hold of through some violation of confidence, was mailed out by us to some friend in the fall of1958 — because certain pages had been removed from copies mailed after that time.) Naturally he selected for quotation the most extreme statements he could find, without the benefit of any of the explanation or modifying import of the context around them. That we would have to expect. What was categorically unfair was that this column quoted me as stating as fact in a booksentences which the whole document clearly revealed were expressions of opinion in an unpublished confidential manuscript of the nature of a letter. Also, he referred to it as “a book written by Welch intended for secret distribution only to the leaders of the Society.” In view of the history of the document, given above, and since at least two-thirds of our Chapter Leaders had never even heard of The Politician, this attempted tying of the Society to the manuscript, or vice versa, is entirely unsupported by the facts. [Emphasis in original.]
Questions concerning Jack Mabley’s journalistic impartiality towards The John Birch Society were raised the year after his scathing columns — when the May 28, 1961 midwest edition of The Worker, an official Communist newspaper, praised Jack Mabley for extending the hospitality of his home to a group of visiting Soviet journalists. (Remember that in 1961, the only “journalists” permitted in the Soviet Union were those approved by the Communist government.)
Immediately following the publication of an article, “Enter (from stage right) THE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY,” in the February 25, 1961 issue of the People’s World — the official Communist paper on the West Coast — the attack on The John Birch Society escalated. A “copycat” article, repeating several mistakes found in the People’s World diatribe, appeared in the March 10, 1961 issue of Time magazine. Many of the articles smearing Robert Welch and the Society took statements from The Politician out of context, even though the work was yet to be published and was largely unknown to JBS members. One “quote” often repeated in the press was that Robert Welch had labeled Eisenhower as “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communists.” In fact, the only place in The Politician where the phrase appears it is directed not at Eisenhower, but at General George C. Marshall: “I defy anybody, who is not actually a Communist himself, to read all of the known facts about his career and not decide that since at least sometime in the 1930’s George Catlett Marshall has been a conscious, deliberate, dedicated agent of the Soviet conspiracy.”
While Mr. Welch presented a stinging indictment of Eisenhower in The Politician [e.g., “It is the province of this treatise to show the part played in these treasonous developments, however unwittingly or unwillingly, by Dwight Eisenhower; and how, as the most completely opportunistic and unprincipled politician America has ever raised to high office, he was so supremely fitted for the part.”], he provided carefully researched documentation for his allegations. But when removed from the supporting documentation, some of the statements appeared to be rash and excessive. It was largely for this reason that Mr. Welch originally shared his letter only with personal associates who could be trusted to evaluate his work privately, and in its full context.
In the months that followed, when JBS members attempted to discuss the Society with prospects, they found that what the prospects knew about the JBS was third-hand information based on inaccurate reports in the press. Many such reports had been culled from deliberate smears planted by the likes of Jack Mabley and the editors of openly Communist-controlled papers such as the People’s World. Since many of the smears referred to The Politician, Society members — most of whom had never read the work — faced a dilemma: How could they defend the Society against charges that its founder had made “inaccurate and wild statements” in The Politician, when the manuscript had never been published?
It was to help the members of the Society overcome this difficulty that Robert Welch finally relented and agreed to publish The Politician. As he later explained, “I published The Politician reluctantly, and in self defense, so that people could see for themselves what I had really said.”
The book became available on March 10, 1963. Then a strange thing happened. Again, let us read the story in Robert Welch’s own words:
For years preceding March 10, 1963, there were at least a hundred newspapers in the United States misquoting The Politician every week, or taking some short passage from it out of context and holding that passage up to their readers as a “wild statement.” But on the date of publication a blanket of silence descended and not a single one of those papers ever carried a review of the book, or let the public know that it was available in print. Having the public learn that, far from being a mere collection of “wild statements,” The Politician consisted of over four hundred pages of compact and carefully documented history, in which nobody could find any errors — this was the last thing these same newspapers wanted. In fact, some of them — including one of the very largest — refused to carry small dignified advertisements announcing that the book was available. They even stopped quoting and misquoting from it for a while, for fear that the public might make this discovery.
In addition to the “blanket of silence” that stifled mention of The Politician in most of the nation’s press, the “Establishment Insider”-controlled book distribution network made The Politician virtually unavailable through normal retail outlets. Robert Welch wrote in the June 1964 JBS Bulletin: “The pressure of various kinds, on the 6800 bookstores and the regular book distribution channels of America, have been so sure and so continuous that the total sale of the book through such outlets has not reached a thousand copies.” This despite the fact that the book had gained a great deal of publicity (albeit, unfavorable publicity) as the target of three years of unrelenting attacks in the press. Prior to publication, The Politician was already one of the best known books in America.
Mr. Welch had alluded to leftist control of the publishing industry at the founding meeting of the Society, when he proposed the establishment of American Opinion “reading rooms”:
[T]hose hundred books, so far as they are available, will be the nucleus of the stock of these reading rooms.* And, since Communist pressures have caused the original publishers to allow so many of these valuable books of true history to go out of print, after first small editions, I am delighted to be able to tell you that a good friend of mine, Lyle Munson of The Bookmailer, already has the little company founded and the physical arrangements made for bringing any and all of these books, for which there is any reasonable demand, back into print in inexpensive editions.
It was to overcome the problem of bringing Americanist, anti-Communist books into print that Mr. Welch decided that The John Birch Society should have its own book publishing division. He named the company Western Islands (borrowing the name from Keats’ sonnet, “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer”) and announced in the November 1961 JBS Bulletin that its first three titles — How to Read the Federalist Papers, by Holmes Alexander; his own The Life of John Birch; and Bullets And Confetti from American Opinion — would be available in time for Christmas.
Because Mr. Welch wanted to keep The Politician distinctly separate from The John Birch Society, however, he formed his own company, Belmont Publishing, to publish it. The book became an instant staple for Birchers and other conservatives and has remained so ever since.
Why The Politician Is Timeless
Dwight Eisenhower, the principal subject of The Politician, has long disappeared from politics and from this Earth. So, what is the relevance of this book to our own time?
Within months of its publication, it became evident to those who evaluated it impartially that The Politicianwas not merely a biography of Dwight David Eisenhower, but an exposé of a systemic national illness. Furthermore, those who gave this work their studied attention invariably arrived at the conclusion that this national malaise was not the result of natural ignorance or indifference, but was brought about through the deliberate machinations of a powerful, self-perpetuating Conspiracy. As Robert Welch stated in The Politician: “The firm grip on our government, of the forces that have worked through Eisenhower, is more important than Eisenhower himself.”
A reviewer in the August 1963 U.S./France Report began with unstinting praise:
The publication of The Politician by Robert Welch, founder of The John Birch Society, is a unique event in the political history of the United States. There is no precedent with which it can be compared. It is a daring and courageous political act on the part of a single, independent citizen who knows fully the significance of what he is doing and the magnitude of the consequences which may result from it. When the history of this incredible century is finally written, this act alone may well be regarded as the decisive one in the American people’s struggle to halt a vast, well-organized and well financed conspiracy from destroying its magnificent, free republic.
Insofar as Eisenhower cooperated in some way with members of this Conspiracy, the fact that he had already left office when The Politician was published did not diminish the significance of the work. Our nation’s movement towards the consolidation of federal power at home and capitulation to Communist expansion abroad was well underway during Eisenhower’s administration, and the president himself played a major role in implementing these self-destructive national policies. But just as those policies did not begin when he took office, neither would they end when he retired from the presidency.
In the days when the words “Communist” and “conspiracy” were as linked as “chrome” and “bumper,” any suggestion of President Eisenhower’s participation in underhanded intrigue was unacceptable to most Americans. Communism was viewed as a political movement that was, by definition, diametrically opposite to “Republicanism”; it was a movement so politically unpalatable to the American people that it could accomplish its objectives only through espionage agents operating outside of mainstream society. The very idea that “Ike” could serve the cause of the Communists was laughable. Professor Russell Kirk, an ivory tower academic contributor to National Review magazine, made sport of what Robert Welch was falsely alleged to have written in The Politician when he quipped: “Eisenhower isn’t a communist; he’s a golfer.”
Kirk’s comment about Eisenhower reflected the image of “Ike” that had been carefully crafted by the nation’s Establishment-controlled media. That same media had earlier provided the public relations campaign required to convince the world that Eisenhower’s mediocre performance in the European theater of World War II somehow exemplified military brilliance. Building on this image, the media audaciously promoted Eisenhower, the lifelong Democrat, as a Republican presidential candidate, in order to deny the nomination to Senator Robert Taft. The candidacy of Taft, a genuinely conservative American leader, posed a serious threat to the policies the conspirators had managed to implement during the Roosevelt and Truman years.
By the time Eisenhower was in the White House, the media spin doctors had created such a larger-than-life public image of the former general that he was virtually immune from any serious public criticism. Mr. Welch’s examination of Eisenhower tackled that deception head-on. The Politician continues to serve as an invaluable eye-opener as to how a powerful conspiracy can craft a totally false image for the man who will fill the highest position of trust in our land. As readers will undoubtedly recognize, much to their consternation, the tactics employed to create a false image for Eisenhower have been used with prominent contemporary figures as well.
In his biography, The Life and Words of Robert Welch, G. Edward Griffin discussed the semantic shenanigans played by Welch’s detractors in taking statements about Eisenhower in The Politician out of context:
In the manuscript that later became known as The Politician, as we shall see, Welch offered three possible explanations of Eisenhower’s behavior and career: (1) He was an opportunist who collaborated with the Conspiracy for personal political advantage; (2) he simply was too dumb to realize he was doing so; and (3) he was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist Conspiracy.” It should be emphasized … that Welch said it was possible to believe Eisenhower was any one of these, but he made it clear that he chose the last. When he used the word “agent,” he meant exactly what the dictionary says it means, “a person governed, guided, or instigated by another in some action,” or “one that acts for or in the place of another by authority from him.”
According to Karl Marx himself it was not necessary for someone to belong even to one organization in order to be called a Communist. One had only to believe in Communism and work to bring it about. Indeed, Marx himself was certainly a Communist, yet he died in 1883, thirty-five years before Lenin founded the latest version of the Communist Party in 1918. In recent years, however, American courts have ruled that the word “Communist” refers to a member of that Party, which Welch did not believe was true of Eisenhower. His stated opinion was that Eisenhower was an agent of the Communists; a “dedicated, conscious agent.” In later years, as we shall see, Welch would use the term Insider to describe Eisenhower’s type, referring to the small group of wealthy, powerful Insiders at the very top who never would set foot inside a Communist Party meeting; but who control, direct, and finance the Communists at the bottom. When he wrote The Politician, however, Welch had not yet begun to use that term.
Many people did not see the distinction between a “dedicated, conscious agent,” and a Communist; and the media never bothered to explain it. The media also never explained why Welch thought as he did. Why had he taken time to write The Politician? What did the book actually say? The American people were told only that Welch had “called our former President a Communist,” and that since Eisenhower was semi-divine, Welch obviously was just the opposite. End of discussion.
Mr. Welch’s later use of the term “Insider” to describe “Eisenhower’s type” reflected the need to demolish widely accepted views about the forces promoting world revolution. At issue was the fundamental relationship between Communism and the dominant power structure among nations generally classified as “Western” or “democratic.” At the time that Welch was writing The Politician, most Americans labored under several delusions deliberately fostered by our leading colleges, news journals, and other institutions of influence. Among the delusions encouraged by the “Insiders” of the Establishment were the following:
• Communism is a political philosophy created by theoreticians such as Marx and Engels that derives most of its power base by exploiting class conflict.
• Because of Communism’s emphasis on the creation of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and the redistribution of wealth, it appeals almost exclusively to the “downtrodden” masses (and the occasional idealistic young revolutionary). Therefore, all propertied members of Western society automatically are above suspicion of collaborating with the goals of Soviet or other Communists.
• The “Establishment” of the United States, consisting of the upper echelon in the worlds of finance, manufacturing, and the military, are almost entirely — even if only out of self-interest — “conservative” Republicans.
The above assertions are all fallacious. In reality:
• Communism is neither an economic nor political theory, but only one of the more manifest branches of an elaborate criminal conspiracy that favors no party or class — but exists only for the consolidation of power for the benefit of its own participants.
• The various overtly Communist or covertly Communist-controlled organizations serve a very practical purpose for elite members of this conspiracy, by providing a force described as “pressure from below” in order to justify consolidation of political and economic power, conversely described as “pressure from above.”
• Members of America’s ruling “Establishment” are not, ipso facto, “conservatives” (I.e., strict constructionists of the Constitution, advocates of free enterprise, opponents of excessive government, and staunch defenders of national sovereignty.) Instead, they frequently support — through tax-exempt foundations created primarily for that purpose — unconstitutional, redistributionist federal programs; street-level organizations promoting social disorder in the name of “civil rights,” “the environment,” etc.; and internationalist organizations such as the United Nations and NATO (and more recently NAFTA and the FTAA) that subvert the independence of the United States.
Robert Welch understood the principles regarding the forces that influence contemporary American affairs before virtually all of his contemporaries. To fully appreciate today why his understanding was correct might still require the reading of several books. Once having completed The Politician, however, the reader will be far ahead of a large majority of the public.
What is the relationship between the elite conspiracy referenced above and Dwight David Eisenhower? The reviewer of The Politician in the U.S./France Report observed:
The main issue … is the final implication inherent in Mr. Welch’s thesis — that the former President willingly and knowingly lent himself to the conspiracy for their ultimate purposes. The strategy of the conspiracy, as far as their interest in Eisenhower was concerned, was to create in him — with his consent and cooperation — the irresistible image of a military hero and national leader in whom the American people would gladly place its full trust and blind faith. This man, capturing the American people with his famous smile and amiable manner, would lead the American people in any direction the conspiracy ordered him. This, incidentally, was the identical formula used by the conspiracy with regard to [French leader Charles] de Gaulle, whose god-like image, too, was created during World War II.
Thus, we begin with the great image build-up during World War II, so that Eisenhower, despite his inferiority to MacArthur, Patton, Clark and others as a military man, emerged head over heels as the hero of World War II. From there the image was nurtured and cultivated so that it would be ready for when it was most needed — in 1952.
For the next eight years — while McCarthy was being slowly ground into the dust — the American people were hypnotized by the Eisenhower smile, radiating warmth and security. “I like Ike” was the national slogan, and times were good. The image, the façade, shining down on America, was like the sun itself.
No Change in Policies
Dwight David Eisenhower turned over the reins of the presidency to a young John F. Kennedy in 1961 and died in 1969. But did this and subsequent changes in political leadership produce major changes in the direction of U.S. foreign and domestic policies? To answer that question, let us trace the history of a single, strategically important cabinet position: that of Secretary of State.
The two secretaries of state in the Eisenhower administration were John Foster Dulles and Christian Herter; Dean Rusk held the position under presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Under presidents Nixon and Ford, we had William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger; in the Carter administration, Cyrus R. Vance and Edmund S. Muskie; under Reagan, we had Alexander M. Haig, Jr. and George P. Schultz. George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State was James Baker; Bill Clinton’s was Warren Christopher, and George W. Bush’s man at state is Colin Powell.
Over the past 50 years, the post of Secretary of State has been held virtually without interruption by members of a New York-based organization called the Council on Foreign Relations. Dulles, Herter, Rusk, Rogers, Kissinger, Vance, Muskie, Haig, Shultz, Christopher, and Powell were all CFR members. In fact, with the exception of James A Baker III during the first Bush administration, every Secretary of State since 1949 has belonged to the CFR.
An honest examination of the history of the CFR demonstrates that it is far more than the impartial study group it claims to be. The men at the CFR’s inner core have extended offers of membership to aspiring leaders in the worlds of government, the media, academia, and finance in order to influence the direction of our nation. Members of the CFR have dominated not only our Department of State, but virtually all key posts — up to and including the presidency itself — in every presidential administration since the conclusion of World War II. More relevant to this discussion: Yes, Dwight David Eisenhower was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Several excellent books have been written about CFR influence in our government, including The Shadows of Power by James Perloff and The Insiders by John F. McManus. But Robert Welch was a pioneer in this area. He was among the first to identify the root of America’s national problems: treasonous conspiracy, not unfathomable stupidity. Although The Politician does not provide all we need to know about the Conspiracy at work today, the book is nevertheless a priceless primer for understanding the nature of the enemy that seeks to destroy our Republic.
Two Champions of Opposing Ideals
The Politician represents, in a fashion, a squaring off between two men born in the 19th century (Eisenhower in 1890 and Welch in 1899) who came to their prime in the middle of the 20th. The older of the two was propelled to fame and popularity by cooperating with powerful forces that already exerted great influence in our nation. The younger achieved a fair degree of fame, but very little popularity, except among the small group of patriots who followed him in the freedom fight. Such is usually the case for those who sacrifice fleeting public acclaim in order to defend timeless principles.
And the philosophical descendants of both of these men are still very much alive and active in today’s world. Members of the Council on Foreign Relations still dominate our presidential administration and largely call the shots concerning our nation’s policies. (And not only our foreign policy — as the Council’s name would imply — but our domestic policies, as well.)
Fortunately, Robert Welch’s descendants, members of The John Birch Society, are a growing positive force in our nation. The Politician is timeless because it provides insight and inspiration for all who would follow in the footsteps of Robert Welch in the defense of the likewise timeless principles he championed. The motto of these patriots is: “Less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world.”
G. Vance Smith