Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Governor Romney has less than seven weeks to convince the undecideds that he's their man, and he's up to his waist in his own, uh, poo. So what should he do?

This morning Matt Rhoades, his campaign manager, released a memorandum describing a "newly-unearthed set of remarks [where] we can hear Barack Obama in his own words advocating for government as a means to redistribute wealth."

Here's what Rhoades thinks is the money quote. Obama says:
“[T]he 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 everybody’s got a shot.”
What makes this quote so appealing to Rhoades and the Romney campaign is the word "redistribution." Years ago redistribution was a benign term used by tax policy wonks to describe what tax policy is, and how different tax policies work. Because taxes are, by definition, "redistribution." I have no children, but for most of my life I have paid taxes to support public schools. I pay them still. My income is being redistributed! (Yawn.)

But these days the word "redistribution" is a red flag to people on the extreme right. There are the libertarians, the perpetual adolescents, who say what's theirs is theirs, and any attempt to get them to participate in a "greater good" is tyranny. And there are the Romneys, who apparently see the 47 percent who pay no income taxes as freeloaders in an "entitlement society," envious of the Romney's riches but unwilling to get off their duffs to earn their own. And it's just a small step from there to even uglier Tea Party descriptions.

One conclusion some of those people on the right are making, if you haven't noticed, is that we should not fund public schools. That's how far this goes.

It's fair to expect, given their history so far in this campaign, that the phrase "at least at a certain level to make sure everybody's got a shot," will be deleted when the video makes its appearance in campaign ads. What we'll see is a black man saying the phrase "I actually believe in redistribution." Or wait, did he say "Reparations"?

Will it change anybody's mind? I don't think so. I think everybody who wets their pants every time they hear the word "redistribution" is already firmly in the Romney camp. Will it make a difference in the election? It might fire up the extreme right wing, who have been cool toward Romney up until now. But they hate Obama so much, I don't think they'd miss an opportunity to vote against him, anyway.

We'll see.

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