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.
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.