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Monday, October 27, 2008
ConWeb Lies, Misleads About Obama Statement
Topic: The ConWeb

It's clear that the ConWeb cares nothing about facts when it comes to Barack Obama. It's demonstrated again with its overheated misinterpretation of, and outright lies about, a statement Obama made in 2001.

Obama said:

I mean, I think that, you know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order in, as long as I could pay for it, I'd be OK. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

And, to that extent, as radical as I think people try 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 Warren Court interpreted it in the same way that, generally, the Constitution is a charter of [unintelligible] liberties -- 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, and that hasn't shifted.

And one of the -- I think the tragedies of the civil rights movement was, because the civil rights movements became so court-focused, 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.

In full context, Obama was saying that the civil rights movement relied too much on the court system to advance its agenda instead of promoting change from the bottom up, and the Warren Supreme Court was not as radical as right-wingers claim it to be because it refused to take up "more basic issues of political and economic justice."

But that's not what the ConWeb will tell you Obama said.

NewsBusters' P.J. Gladnick howled that "Barack Obama explicitly calls for the 'redistribution of wealth'" in the interview -- which he doesn't. NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein claimed Obama said "he laments the Supreme Court's insufficient radicalism in pursuing redistribution and refers to the civil rights movement's failure to develop a better strategy to bring about wealth redistribution as a 'tragedy[']" -- which he didn't.

David Patten wrote in an Oct. 27 Newsmax article:

One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement is that it failed to lead to income redistribution in the United States, Barack Obama appears to state in an audio excerpt of a Chicago public radio program recorded in 2001.

Obama, who then was an Illinois state senator, also stated that people continue to “suffer” because there is no government program to take money from the rich and redistribute it to Americans who are less well off.

Also wrong. 

Susan Jones asserted in an Oct. 27 article that "The audio clip makes it clear that redistribution of wealth, or 'redistributive change,' is something Obama’s been aiming at for years." Again, not true; Obama could have been referring to political power as well, or exclusively. Similarly, Terry Jeffrey asserted that Obama "expressed disappointment that the Supreme Court 'never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth.'"

The Media Research Center's Seton Motley cited "damning new evidence of Illinois Democratic Senator and Presidential nominee Barack Obama's radical views on how we need to 'break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution' because it 'doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.'" Obama didn't say that.

Motley also quotes MRC chief Brent Bozell saying of this story: "We will monitor who does - and doesn't - cover this story, and we'll document it." We'll be doing the same thing -- but monitoring and documenting how Bozell and his fellow travelers lie and mislead about Obama's words.

UPDATE: Newsmax's Phil Brennan severely misinterprets Obama's words, turning Obama's declarative statement that the Warren court "didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution" into a false question by putting words in Obama's mouth, under the headline "Obama Attacks Founding Fathers, Constitution":

According to Obama if the Constitution "didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and [the] Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties." [emphasis added]

Obama didn't say "if the Constitution"; that's a fabrication by Brennan. Yet Brennan lies that Obama "shows a shocking ignorance of the purpose of the United States Constitution" and "would have sent shivers up the spine of Thomas Jefferson, et al."

UPDATE 2: WorldNetDaily joins the parade, falsely claiming that Obama "said in a radio interview the U.S. has suffered from a fundamentally flawed Constitution that does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth."

Posted by Terry K. at 3:41 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, October 27, 2008 5:18 PM EDT

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