Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Obama Tapes - Oh My! (updated)

Republicans think they've come up with a way to respond to the devastation that Romney's remarks about the 47% have caused his campaign. They're saying..."wait - we have secret tapes about horrible things Obama said, too!"

The funny thing is that when I watch those videos, my reaction is the opposite of what most Republicans felt when they heard what Romney said. The "Obama tapes" suggest exactly why it is that I support this President.

There are actually two Obama speeches from the past that are making the rounds. The first is the one where he talks about that awful soshulist word - redistribution. In order to get the full import of this segment of what President Obama said in 1998, you have to watch 2 videos.

That's the winger's clip. So they end it as soon as he mentions redistribution. But notice how he talks about the fact that "we're going to have to resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all." He also talks about the need to resuscitate the notion that "we're all in this together." Sound familiar?

But then after he uses that one word that the wingers are focusing on, he says this.

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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.
So what he's actually talking about - that the wingers don't want you to hear - is that we need to find a way to give everyone "a shot" with decentralized systems in a marketplace based on competition. That is nothing more nor less than the ongoing struggle this democratic republic has been engaged in since its founding. Its what the whole attempt to "perfect our union" has been about.

But there is another video that has surfaced by the wingers that hasn't been as widely covered as the one above. It is of an interview with Obama (likely about his book Dreams from My Father) back in 1995.

I actually saw a clip of Sean Hannity talking to Michelle Malkin about this where they were having the vapors about this radical belief of Obama's in a small "d" democracy and the power we the people have in working together to shape our future.

What we have here is the truth laid bare. For decades now the Republican Party has been at war with the idea of our collective power as citizens in a democracy as well as the idea that we have any collective responsibility to one another. It has taken many insidious forms...from Reagan's "government is not the answer, its the problem" to Bush II's emphasis on an "ownership society." But now its reached fevered pitch.

Rather than buying into the Democratic DLC-type approach to top-down democracy, President Obama is saying "yes we can" to doing this together. In these videos he's being clear about what he's actually trying to put into practice in both his campaigns and his style of governing. It goes right to the heart of what Republicans have been trying to do to this country for the last 30 years. That's why they are so threatened by him and that's EXACTLY why I support him. More than any specific policy, a collective sense of citizenship and responsibility is what we need if we're going to make any claims to living in a democracy.

UPDATE: Vyan posted a diary about the 3rd video at Daily Kos. If you'd like to see a transcript of some of the most important parts, you can find it there.


  1. Well, we need to see the ultimate tally in the election, but that anyone would imagine that these videos are electoral poison for Obama is nuts. First, I'm actually surprised at how consistent he is. He is not saying anything substantively different today.

    The fact is that if you read this from a *certain* left-wing position, you might come away with the conclusion that in fact, Obama is "not one of us." He uses the word "redistribution" but only to suggest the limits of it he would support. He rejects a reading of US history that sees the US as capitalist concentration in toto. Bob Avakian and his crew are not down with this talk.

    It's not my observation--even Peggy Noonan made the point the other day, though overestimating Reagan in the process--that an approach that takes as its goal the integration of everyone into the group ("big tent") is going to end up outnumbering an approach that is based on the idea of us against them. You don't get everyone into the big tent, but you end up with more, and more is what counts in an election. The reason Obama is successful in this sense is because, obviously, he really believes it. He clearly really wants to be able to connect with that right-winger on the one or two things they agree on and get something done. I almost imagine that most people work in this way, because it's practical. But it's not the GOP line.

    1. One thing that has always stood out to me is Obama's consistency. It is actually rather startling for someone in this day and age. Leftists who think he abandoned them have just not paid attention.

      I think he studied both himself and the historical record for a long time and came to some pretty solid conclusions. His trajectory from when he left community organizing to go to Harvard has been one long journey of putting those conclusions into action.

  2. What's amusing to me is that the GOP equates these videos to secret video taken w/o the candidate's knowledge. They were always going to release these videos out-of-context. The release of the Willard vid just gave them the excuse they needed. They are desperate to find something the President said at some point that is as damaging and insulting to the American people as the Willard vid. Trouble is, President Obama doesn't hate Americans, so he's never going to say anything even remotely as hateful as Willard.

  3. This proves the GOP doesn't have anything. That commie scare doesn't make sense to the 300 million plus that don't watch Fox News. I put this up there with them ranting about social justice.


  4. Hmmm. Why does the phrase "desperate douche bags" keep ringing in my head?

  5. Can we say Mitt Romney has be consistent. Today Romney is still flip flopping. In that Mother Jones video Romney shows his disdain for that 47% of free loaders irresponsible no paying taxes Americans. Now all of a sudden he cares for that 47%, he cares for 100% of Americans. If he cared for all Americans he should have told that 50,000 dollar crowd he was speaking before. People said this election was about the economy, I keep saying that is true,but it is also about trust. Can anyone honestly say they "TRUST" Mitt Romney?