If Barack Obama would release his Columbia thesis, this latest media pseudo-controversy would never have happened. But now the tittering hyenas on the left are howling at the moon over the satire of Obama's thesis that was taken for the real thing by Rush Limbaugh, Michael Ledeen at Pajamas Media, as well as by Denis Keohane at The American Thinker.
The fake thesis has Obama criticizing the Constitution, saying that "the so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
That sounded to me like something Obama would have said, so I cited it and ran it with it at my blog AtlasShrugs.com. But when I couldn't find the actual link to what purported to be the "first ten pages" of Obama's thesis, I took it down.
But bear in mind one thing: as Michael Ledeen says, "it worked because it's plausible."
The thing is, Obama has said things very similar to the ones he is made to say in this satire of his thesis. He said them in a radio interview dating from 2001, which I ran at Atlas Shrugs on October 6, 2008. The fake thesis had nothing new in it -- it just echoed things Obama has already said.
In the interview, Obama discusses the best way to bring about a redistribution of wealth. He speaks of the "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." Yes, redistributive change. He said that it was a tragedy that the Constitution wasn't radically reinterpreted to force redistribution of the wealth: "I am not optimistic," he said, "about bringing about redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn't structured that way." He praised the Civil Rights Movement and its "litigation strategy in the court" for succeeding in vesting "formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples."
Yet for Obama the civil rights movement didn't go far enough, because it didn't venture into socialism. "One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement 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."
This was the fault of the Supreme Court and the Constitution itself: "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 people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical." And that was because of the constraints of the Constitution: "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, it 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."
So he doesn't think redistribution of wealth can be accomplished through the courts, but he thinks it can be done legislatively. That is why a liberal supermajority in Congress is crucial to Obama's strategy.
Notice that Obama was not discussing whether redistribution of the wealth is right or wrong -- this was a conversation about how to achieve that goal. And this was back in 2001.
We'll never know what is in Obama's thesis, because Obama will not release it -- nor will he release any of his school papers, transcripts, crossword puzzles... nothing. What other politician ever got away with that? Obama had Jack Ryan's divorce and child custody records papers unsealed, which led to Ryan's resignation and Obama's first election win -- minutes before he decided to run for President.
But as for this thesis satire, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Ledeen and the American Thinker have little to apologize for. Obama has been on record favoring the redistribution of wealth for years. The lapdog media just never bothered to notice.
Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs Web site and is former associate publisher of the New York Observer.