Controversial Obama radio interview surfaces

A 2001 interview on Chicago's WBEZ is used to echo the "radical redistribution of wealth" meme.


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Thomas Schaller
October 27, 2008 7:16PM (UTC)

A radio appearance by then state Sen. and law professor Barack Obama on WBEZ in Chicago in 2001 has emerged as new evidence of Obama's evil plan to redistribute wealth. You can listen to selected excerpts of the interview in the YouTube video below, and you should watch as well as listen because the video includes interspersed, interpretive comments that are clearly intended to foment fear about Obama's remarks. One such comment, in yellow capital letters, reads as follows:

YES, HE JUST SAID IT'S A TRAGEDY THE CONSTITUTION WASN'T RADICALLY REINTERPRETED TO FORCE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS.

Obama didn't say that, in fact. Later, during the video version of the interview, responding to a question from a female caller to the show about income redistribution via legislatures or the courts, Obama replied: "I am not optimistic about bringing major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn't structured that way." Again, the video offers its creator's interpretation:

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HE DOESN'T THINK THE COURT CAN DO IT BUT DOES THINK IT CAN BE DONE LEGISLATIVELY. IT ISN'T TOO LATE.

Here is what Obama spokesman Bill Burton said about the radio interview: "In this interview back in 2001, Obama was talking about the civil rights movement -- and the kind of work that has to be done on the ground to make sure that everyone can live out the promise of equality. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Obama's economic plan or his plan to give the middle class a tax cut. It's just another distraction from an increasingly desperate McCain campaign."


Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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