Jen Rubin is right; Obama’s comments in the WBEZ radio interview from 2001 are one of those rare cases where they are more powerful in transcript form than hearing them on YouTube.
Obama’s calm baritone can make anything sound reasonable, even a frustrated lament that “the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth” and disappointment that “as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.” If Obama read aloud William Ayers’ memoir Fugitive Days, many listeners would nod in appreciation of the poetic contrast between the blue sky and the singing birds in the description of the day the Pentagon was bombed.
But in the cold form of text, one recoils from a potential President uttering the words that he is frustrated that the Warren Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.”
Those constraints are there for a reason.
Obama says, “Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change.”
Would Obama have come as far as he has in this campaign if his slogan were not merely “CHANGE” but “REDISTRIBUTIVE CHANGE”?