Media

People pretend to know what Obama is saying in full 'redistribution' remarks

After NBC News obtained the full 1998 video in which then-state Sen. Obama says he believes in "redistribution," some said it cleared the air: Obama was actually advocating for more efficient government and free markets, not redistribution of wealth.

The initial audio clip that surfaced this week contained Obama saying the following: "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."

A fuller version of the clip has Obama continuing in his remarks: "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."

Because you can hear the words "competition," "marketplace" and "innovation" this supposedly changes everything.

"Far from championing the wholesale redistribution of wealth," Politico's media reporter Dylan Byers wrote, "Obama was seen advocating a competitive, free-market system in which 'everybody's got a shot.'"

Advocating!

"[T]he clip circulated by Republicans fails to include part of Obama’s remarks in which he went on to advocate for 'competition' and innovation,” wrote Pema Levy at Talking Points Memo.

Advocating!

NBC News White House Correspondent Chuck Todd said that the whole video shows Obama "speaking about 'competition' and 'the marketplace' in his VERY NEXT sentence. ... The second sentence could have been uttered by Bill Clinton. ..."

Bill Clinton could have said it!

I've re-read Obama's full remarks several times and the addition of "competition," "marketplace" and "innovation" make no difference. It actually makes little sense in full (How would you "pool resources" and "decentralize" at the same time?) Yet, because Obama said some safe words, some in the media have wiped their hands clean and called it a wash.

It's a little like a video surfacing of Mitt Romney saying, "I actually believe in school segregation, at least at a certain level, to make sure everybody's happy."

Everyone pounces.

Then let's say a fuller version of Romney's remarks are released and in the next sentence he's shown to say, "But how do we work on segregating our schools while still making everyone equal and fostering race relations?"

Oh! Romney was really talking about racial harmony!

No he wasn't. No one would understand. And no one gets what Obama is saying in that tape, even if they're pretending to. The safe words "competition" and "marketplace" don't change anything.

One last thing…
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