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Obama is more like Ike than Marx

Mitt Romney, reeling from remarks about the 47 percent in a secretly recorded video, has decided to dredge up a comment President Obama made back in '98 as an Illinois state senator.

As the saying goes: when lawyers can’t win by citing the facts, or by citing the law — they attack their opponent by claiming he’s something he’s not, hoping the mud will stick.

In a 1998 audio clip that surfaced online last week, Obama is heard speaking at a conference at Loyola University, where he suggested that society needed to come up with a plan to “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.”

The key here is the closing phrase — “to make sure that everybody’s got a shot” implicitly at the American Dream of middle class life where playing by the rules is the name of the game, where your hard work is rewarded and where you can pass off a better future to your kids.

That’s hardly a radical position. It's the heart and soul of the American Dream, that promissory note each generation signs onto. 

Only a fellow like Mitt Romney, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, could charge Obama with being a closet “socialist.” Obama’s vision is framed by his own words, which echo our tradition to “form a more perfect union.” Notice the emphasis is not to “guarantee a perfect union" but to form a “more” perfect one.

The system is too often rigged against the 99 percent by the 1 percent. Barack is simply trying to create a “more” even playing field assuming the United States of America is a generation-by-generation work-in-progress.

At every step in U.S. history the government has come to the aid of people left in the dust — our founders facing British colonialism, slaves being emancipated, women given the vote, labor being allowed to organize, segregation being ended and the G.I. Bill, Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security being passed to give folks not a hand out but a hand up in our pursuit of happiness.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are dedicated to turning the clock back to an America framed by the 1920s. We all know what came after the Roaring 20s — The Great Depression and then WWII.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to give the likes of those who drove us into the bunker of the Great Recession and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan another chance to repeat those errors?

We hired Barack Obama to get America back on track. He stopped the slide into a depression, he saved the U.S. auto industry, he made the banks accountable, he got health care reform passed and he’s bringing the troops home. Let him finish the job and send the GOP a loud and clear message — you had your chance and you blew it from 2000-2008. Enough is enough!

Speaking personally, I would love to "redistribute" Romney’s off-shore millions to the deserving poor among us — the homeless, the 1-in-6 in poverty, and/or to the 23,000,000 un/under-employed. That would be my kind of Robin Hood game plan to take from the 1 percent and redistribute to the 99 percent. 

But Barack has never talked about such a plan, not even close. His goal is helping create private sector jobs. 

Contrary to the paranoid Tea Party zealots out there, Barack is not the second coming of FDR but more of an Eisenhower centrist who believes in infrastructure development, not a WPA or CCC. Ike built the interstate highway system, the world’s largest publics works project until the Chinese came along. I grew up in Oregon watching I-5 being built out of the remnants of “old” Highway 99.

As an unreconstructed '60s lefty, I'm all for taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Fortunately for the powers that be, I'm not President of the United States.  My mentor is not Karl Marx but Jesus, who threw the money changers out of the temple. 

I'll settle for "redistributing" some of that Romney filthy lucre along with the other funny money from 13 percent tax-bracketers like Phil Knight, Paul Allen, Bill Gates, Jr. and the other Fortune 500 types.

Russ Dondero is professor emeritus, Department of Politics and Government, Pacific University. Read his blogs at russdondero.squarespace.com.