Several blogs I read have already posted about this today, but just to make sure that no one misses it, I'm going to go ahead and do so, too. Please read this transcript of an interview Barack Obama gave to Chicago Public Radio in 2001 (the emphasis is mine):
Obama: "You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the courts, I think where it succeeded was to get formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples--so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order, and as long as I was able to pay for it I'd be OK. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and 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 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. And that hasn't shifted. And one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think 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 to bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.
Caller: The gentleman made the point that the Warren Court wasn't terribly radical with economic changes. My question is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place?
Host: You mean the courts?
Caller: The courts, or would it be legislation at this point?
Obama: Maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. . . . (Read more here.)
So that "spread the wealth" around comment to Joe the Plumber was just a slip of the tongue, huh? Not indicative of Obama's true philosophy?
Sorry, Barack, I'm not buying it. And if we can get the story out there--the story that you think the American Constitution is a constraining thing from which we need to break free in order to bring about redistribution of wealth and economic justice for all--I don't think the American public will either.