OK

Drudge has a new headline up:

2001 OBAMA: 'TRAGEDY' THAT 'REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH' NOT PURSUED

Which links to this Youtube video.

Drudge highlights what he believes is the meat of the video:

Barack Obama on Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM, 2001: One of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change... MORE...

The problem, of course, is that Obama never says that it's "a tragedy that redistribution of wealth" was not pursued. Or rather, there are no Marxist or Socialist overtones that any reasonable person could read into this interview. This is the GOP's October Surprise, and we need to be prepared to combat it.

As Andrew Sullivan points out,

if punitive taxation is Marxist, then Ronald Reagan was a Marxist and Adam Smith was a little suspect

Obama is not talking about "radical Marxism." He's simply talking about the possibility for a Legislative procedure that would mirror what the Warren court did for Civil Rights, and make that in accord economically, which the courts do not have the power to do. When we consider how disproportionately the different classes are taxed (the rich regularly pay fewer taxes, percentage wise, than the middle class and paying lower class because they have more loopholes available), then OF COURSE the legislature and organizers should look into "redistributive change."

The user who put this video up, NakedEmperorNews, is a conservative muckraker with titles of videos like "1995 Obama Bizarre, Race Baiting Interview" and "Michelle and Barack Obama INSULT America." The video is a bizarre pastiche of the interview with interjections by NakedEmperorNews that say things like

Yes he just said it's a tragedy the Constitution wasn't radically reinterpreted to force redistribution of wealth for African Americans. And it's still an issue today.

The music is of course the scary boogeyman low tones that we expect from McCain ads.

Here's what Obama actually says (this is my transcript), without the visual filter:

You know if you look at the victories and the failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples, so that I would now be allowed to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and as long as I could pay for it, I would be okay, but the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of Redistribution of Wealth, and served more basic issues of political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints set forth by the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties that says what the states can’t do to you, says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement, because it became so court focused, was that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power by which we’re able to bring about redistributive change, and I think we’re still suffering from that.

That phrase, "And that hasn't shifted," is a rather important one, because it means that Obama essentially agrees with the Warren Court, and the general contemporary legal interpretation, that the Constitution allows leeway for legislators to act on the population's behalf. He is not arguing that "the Warren Court wasn't radical enough," but rather that the issues the Warren court addressed are issues that still need to be revisited. These include voting laws, privacy and free speech rights, and criminal procedural questions, all crucial issues that the Bush administration has mangled and need to be addressed. He's saying that change needs to occur across ALL spectrums of government, not just through the courts. He's arguing for democratic inclusion, where the grassroots is able to have a say in legislation, whereas in the Civil Rights era too often the courts were the only people who mattered. Somehow, Republicans have translated inclusivity and democracy as negative, radical ideas. Obama is making the argument that the structure of our Constitution allows for and encourages that type of inclusivity because it restricts the rights of government acting against our interests, not our ability to define government for our interests.

The word "redistribution" is a scare-word for the GOP. It doesn't matter what context it's in, but it automatically signals to them "Socialism," without them realizing that ALL tax systems are redistributive. So, while perhaps Obama's phrase is inelegant (I don't think so, but I'll grant it), he's talking about how government funds are spent. And of course he means this in the same way he's always meant it: don't give tax breaks for the wealthiest corporations but to responsible companies and hardworking people, close loopholes that allow corporations and the wealthiest Americans to profit off the backs of others, and use spending appropriately, by funding schools, social work programs, science, and programs for sustainability. That is not a radical proposition but rather the exact kind of change we need right now!

TheSilverMonkey diaried this as I was making my diary, and I agree with him wholeheartedly in asking, "This is the best they've got?"

Originally posted to Jasont3h on Sun Oct 26, 2008 at 11:55 PM PDT.

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