Imagine that a week before a presidential election, a radio interview surfaced in which the Republican candidate had called for, say, the abolition of Social Security. Now imagine the broadcast networks' reaction to that nugget: "We interrupt regularly-scheduled programming for this Breaking News," followed by 24/7 coverage with talking heads pondering the devastating impact on America's seniors, the overall economy, the future of Western civilization, etc. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman would be booked from now till election day, offering his pained pronouncements.
But how do those same networks react when a radio interview [YouTube after the jump] surfaces of Barack Obama in a call for the redistribution of wealth, in which he laments the Supreme Court's insufficient radicalism in pursuing redistribution and refers to the civil rights movement's failure to develop a better strategy to bring about wealth redistribution as a "tragedy?
Insert cricket-chirp soundtrack here.
When, awakening, I saw the story up on Drudge, I made it a point to monitor the crucial first half-hour of Today, Good Morning America, and the Early Show, to see how much coverage they devoted to the radio interview. Results:
- Today Show: zilch
- Good Morning America: zip
- The Early Show: nada
What makes you madder: the networks' burying of the story, or the fact that their deep-sixing of it was so predictable?
Note: While I was off watching the broadcast networks, my NB colleage P. J. Gladnick, who was on this story early, and has also detailed the Kossacks panicky reaction to it, noted that Morning Joe, on cable-network MSNBC, did get into a discussion of the issue during its second hour. We'll update later with details.
Update: Mika Suggests Obama Using 'Marxist Dialect'
If NBC, along with the other broadcast networks, was too timid to broach the radio interview, over on MSNBC Morning Joe was not. Mika Brzezinski went so far as to suggest to Obama surrogate Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that Obama's redistributionist rap amounted to "Marxist dialect." McCaskill claimed that all Obama was talking about was changes to the tax code. Either she hadn't read the radio transcript or she was, let's say, fibbing. In the interview, Obama advocated nothing less than a radical reinterpretation of the Constitution.
View video here.
PS: we wish Mika well in her debate/discussion this evening at Fairfield University with Monica Crowley. Contrary to a newspaper report that she would "represent" Obama, a university official has contacted me to state that while Mika "in general, she holds a liberal political view," she will not be representing any candidate but will instead share her "wisdom, experience and impartiality."
Note —Not Income Redistribution, Wealth Redistribution: Be Very Afraid
My first edition of this item spoke of Obama's support for redistribution of income. But then I saw a reader speak of redistribution of "wealth." I went back and checked, and sure enough, that's what Obama said in the radio interview. And now that I think of it, of course he also told Joe the Plumber he wants to "spread the wealth" around.
As bad as income redistribution is, it pales in comparison to wealth redistribution. Income is what people earn. Income redistribution comes about through steeply progressive income taxes. Wealth is what people accumulate over the course of a lifetime of earning. Wealth redistribution implies nothing less than government confiscation of the nest eggs people have labored all their lives to build up. Be very afraid.
And don't think it can't happen. After all, Barack "Citizen of the World" Obama looks to Europe for inspiration. A number of European countries have a "wealth tax" in which people are required to annually pay a percentage of their net worth--on accumulated wealth that was of course already taxed at the time it was earned. Extra credit to France for its socialistic name for the levy: the "solidarity tax" on wealth. Vive la revolution!
Excerpt from transcript of Obama's 2001 interview with Chicago public radio station WBEZ [via Power Line]:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.
But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted.
One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.