There is nothing vague or ambiguous about this. Nothing.Scott Johnson, Powerline, rebuts Cass Sunstein:
From the top: “…The Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.”
If the second highlighted phrase had been there without the first, Obama’s defenders would have bent over backwards trying to spin the meaning of “political and economic justice.” We all know what political and economic justice means, because Barack Obama has already made it crystal clear a second earlier: It means redistribution of wealth. Not the creation of wealth and certainly not the creation of opportunity, but simply taking money from the successful and hard-working and distributing it to those whom the government decides “deserve” it.
This redistribution of wealth, he states, “essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.” It is an administrative task. Not suitable for the courts. More suitable for the chief executive.
Now that’s just garden-variety socialism, which apparently is not a big deal to may voters. So I would appeal to any American who claims to love the Constitution and to revere the Founding Fathers… I will not only appeal to you, I will beg you, as one American citizen to another, to consider this next statement with as much care as you can possibly bring to bear: “And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and [the] Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [it] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.
The United States of America — five percent of the world’s population — leads the world economically, militarily, scientifically, and culturally — and by a spectacular margin. Any one of these achievements, taken alone, would be cause for enormous pride. To dominate as we do in all four arenas has no historical precedent. That we have achieved so much in so many areas is due — due entirely — to the structure of our society as outlined in the Constitution of the United States.
The entire purpose of the Constitution was to limit government. That limitation of powers is what has unlocked in America the vast human potential available in any population.
Barack Obama sees that limiting of government not as a lynchpin but rather as a fatal flaw: “…One of the, I think, the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.”
There is no room for wiggle or misunderstanding here. This is not edited copy. There is nothing out of context; for the entire thing is context — the context of what Barack Obama believes. You and I do not have to guess at what he believes or try to interpret what he believes. He says what he believes.
We have, in our storied history, elected Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives and moderates. We have fought, and will continue to fight, pitched battles about how best to govern this nation. But we have never, ever in our 232-year history, elected a president who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.
If this does not frighten you — regardless of your political affiliation — then you deserve what this man will deliver with both houses of Congress, a filibuster-proof Senate, and, to quote Senator Obama again, “a righteous wind at our backs.”
That a man so clear in his understanding of the Constitution, and so opposed to the basic tenets it provides against tyranny and the abuse of power, can run for president of the United States is shameful enough.
Yesterday the Obama campaign called on University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein to tamp down the furor over Obama's advocacy of "redistributive change" and overcoming of the Constitution's "negative rights" in his 2001 radio interview. Politico's Ben Smith reliably channelled Professor Sunstein's spinning on behalf of Obama.
Professor Sunstein was actually the right man to call on to explain Obama's remarks. They derive directly from Sunstein's advocacy of Roosevelt's so-called second Bill of Rights. Sunstein devoted a book to the subject in 2004 -- The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever. Roosevelt set forth his "second Bill of Rights" in his January 1944 State of the Union Address:
Read on, read it all, but this is key:
Tom Palmer usefully explicated the political thought underlying Sunstein's argument in his review of the book. By contrast with the doctrine of rights conferred by God and nature set forth in the Declaration of Independence, Sunstein holds:
You owe your life -- and everything else -- to the sovereign. The rights of subjects are not natural rights, but merely grants from the sovereign. There is no right even to complain about the actions of the sovereign, except insofar as the sovereign allows the subject to complain. These are the principles of unlimited, arbitrary, and absolute power, the principles of such rulers as Louis XIV. Intellectuals have assiduously promoted them; think of Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes.
Stephen Calabrese, WSJ, on Obama's remarks, in part:
This is not justice, this is tyranny.
He also noted that the Court "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted." That is to say, he noted that the U.S. Constitution as written is only a guarantee of negative liberties from government -- and not an entitlement to a right to welfare or economic justice.
This raises the question of whether Mr. Obama can in good faith take the presidential oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution" as he must do if he is to take office. Does Mr. Obama support the Constitution as it is written, or does he support amendments to guarantee welfare? Is his provision of a "tax cut" to millions of Americans who currently pay no taxes merely a foreshadowing of constitutional rights to welfare, health care, Social Security, vacation time and the redistribution of wealth? Perhaps the candidate ought to be asked to answer these questions before the election rather than after.Every new federal judge has been required by federal law to take an oath of office in which he swears that he will "administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich." Mr. Obama's emphasis on empathy in essence requires the appointment of judges committed in advance to violating this oath. To the traditional view of justice as a blindfolded person weighing legal claims fairly on a scale, he wants to tear the blindfold off, so the judge can rule for the party he empathizes with most.
Link to the audio. Transcript.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey, HotAir:
Today, a reader sends me this recap from a spring 1996 meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which has a 34-year-old Obama talking redistribution at the beginning of his political career (emphases mine):
Barack Obama observed that Martin Luther King’s March on Washington in the 1960s wasn’t simply about civil rights but demanded jobs as well. Now the issue is again coming to the front, but he wished the issue was on the Democratic agenda not just on [Pat] Buchanan’s.
One of the themes that has emerged in Barack Obama’s campaign is “what does it take to create productive communities”, not just consumptive communities. It is an issue that joins some of the best instincts of the conservatives with the better instincts of the left. He felt the state government has three constructive roles to play.
The first is “human capital development”. By this he meant public education, welfare reform, and a “workforce preparation strategy”. Public education requires equality in funding. It’s not that money is the only solution to public education’s problems but it’s a start toward a solution. The current proposals for welfare reform are intended to eliminate welfare but it’s also true that the status quo is not tenable. A true welfare system would provide for medical care, child care and job training. While Barack Obama did not use this term, it sounded very much like the “social wage” approach used by many social democratic labor parties. By “workforce preparation strategy”, Barack Obama simply meant a coordinated, purposeful program of job training instead of the ad hoc, fragmented approach used by the State of Illinois today.
The state government can also play a role in redistribution, the allocation of wages and jobs. As Barack Obama noted, when someone gets paid $10 million to eliminate 4,000 jobs, the voters in his district know this is an issue of power not economics. The government can use as tools labor law reform, public works and contracts.