Mitt Romney doesn’t want you to dwell on his criticism of the embassy attacks, his hidden camera commentary about the 47 percent, his Univision brown face appearance or his just released 2011 tax return. LOOK OVER HERE, CITIZEN!
14 years ago Barack Obama, as a state senator said: “I think the trick is figuring out, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.” This is completely uncontroversial — but note, it’s only a part of Obama’s full comments. Most of the replays in Romney ads and rightwing reporting have even left off the last part “to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”
Mitt Romney seized on the word “redistribution” with all the frantic desperation and flop sweat one would expect from a man who has fcked up as badly as Romney has in the past week. The editorial board of the Washington Post describes the attack as a “desperate, clownish portrayal of Mr. Obama:”
The campaign apparently thinks that voters will find “redistribution” a scary word. But does Mr. Romney really disagree with the belief that part of government’s role is, in Mr. Obama’s words, to help “make sure that everybody’s got a shot”? To tax is to redistribute. To govern is to redistribute. Benefits from government spending flow in different amounts to different individuals and different states. Unless Mr. Romney envisions government stripped down to the role of providing for the national defense and building a road or two, and it is clear that he doesn’t, it is hard to imagine a world in which government does not play some redistributionist role.
First of all, when Mitt Romney says “redistribution has never been a characteristic of America,” that should clue you in that redistribution has always been a characteristic of America.
And, of course, out on the stump, Paul Ryan was ready to explain the whole thing….
“Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth, Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth,” Ryan said during a rally at the Piedmont Precision Machine Company in Danville.
Actually, of course, the last few decades have seen the greatest redistribution of wealth upwards in the nation’s history, and these guys are campaigning on a plan that would accelerate that redistribution whole hog. But, let us also remind the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin that he likely never would have gone to college if somebody hadn’t redistributed some of my limited wealth in his direction through Social Security survivor’s benefits.
Jonathan Chait asks if there has never been a political campaign “more reliant upon seizing on its opponent’s words (and wrenching them out of context)? This appears to be the hallmark of the Romney 2012 campaign method.”
NBC News: “Yet NBC News has obtained the entirety of the relevant remarks, which includes additional comments by Obama that weren’t included in the video circulated by Republicans. That omission features additional words of praise for “competition” and the “marketplace” by the then-state senator.”
Fox “news,” of course, steadily hyped the out-of-context remarks all day for Romney’s campaign.
Here is Obama’s full remarks, from the entire clip: “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.”