Monday, Oct 27, 2008
A radio discussion in which Barack Obama lamented failures to bring about ‘redistributive change’ as one of the ‘tragedies’ of history has reignited fears he will introduce socialist-style policies.
The interview has been seized on by John McCain’s campaign as proof that the Democratic nominee is a dangerous radical and that his recent hand comment to a plumber in Ohio that “when you spread the wealth around it’s a good thing for everybody” was not an innocent slip.
Mr McCain has made Mr Obama’s remark to the plumber, Joe Wurzelbacker, the centrepiece of his faltering campaign in its final days, lauding “Joe the Plumber” as the archetypal ordinary American at risk from high taxes designed to divert middle-class wealth to the poor.
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In the 2001 discussion on with Chicago Public Radio, Mr Obama, then an obscure state senator and university law lecturer, was speaking about the US Supreme Court and noted that its history meant that “I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts”.
Although his remarks were heavily analytical and academic, he spoke warmly of the notion of redistributing wealth, suggesting that there were other vehicles that the courts to achieve it.
Mr Obama said: “One of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organising and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.”
This article was posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 at 11:06 am