Interviewer to Biden: Tell Me Why Obama Isn’t a Marxist

by Kevin Jon Heller

Take five minutes out of your busy day and watch this interview, which would be hysterical if it was a Saturday Night Live send-up of an interview by a conservative newscaster, but is just sad because it’s real.  Notice how little the interviewer — who is clearly animatronic and programmed by Powerline and Hugh Hewitt — knows about “socialism” and “Marxism.”

Hat-tip: Volokh Conspiracy.

2 Responses

  1. Oh, please. The only thing wrong with Barbara West’s question to Joe Biden about the Marxist principle underlying Obama’s “spread the wealth” tax policy is that you think it demonstrates a lack of knowledge about political philosophy. News flash: there actually are ideological principles that underlie such policy views. The Marxist doctrine of “From Each According to His Ability to Each According to his Need” is one such principle, and it underlies not only Marxism and socialism, but the core of the moral and political argument for the welfare state as such. Bravo to Barbara West for having the courage to address a core philosophical issue, and shame on your apparent inability understand the importance and relevance of fundamental philosophical ideas to political discourse.

  2. Sorry Tony, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. This whole business of “spreading the wealth around” was completely taken out of context by the conservative commentariate.  

    Obama was talking about targeted tax relief for middle income bands, and how having a healthy and growing middle class beneficts everyone, including upper-income cohorts and businesses. To equate that observation, and the system of progressive taxation which undelies both candidate platforms, with Marxism is just sheer sophistry. It’s completely disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

    Also, FYI the philosophical basis for progressive taxation isn’t Marxist, it is social contractarian theory, like Rawls’ original position, or Dworkin’s equal auction – whereby we have social insurance to redress arbitrary brute-luck disadvantages, without interfering with option-luck accrued advantages unduly. It has nothing to do with equality of outcome notions of need or the Marxist notion of primitive accumulation.

    The fairness of such arrangements also draws upon basic insights like diminishing marginal utility, the capacity for capital reinforce and widen disparities in wealth, and inter-generational wealth effects. It also acknowledges that the wealthy frequently benefit disproportionate from public goods through their usage of technological, industrial and legal infrastructure.

    But even if one was was going to quizz a politician on such a tendentious and intellectually lazy line, just the way West posed her challenge in such a combative, repetitious and leading way was quite simply gutter journalism. She could have easily probed Biden to defend the Obama economic platform, as being too restributive or too incompatible with America’s spirit of aversion to wealth-envy, in a hard-hitting fashion without behaving like such a douche.

    The fact is, West is married to a Republican strategist; she is not a serious journalist, and the constrast with her soft-ball interviews with the McCain campaign is glaring. Her last interviews with them involved her asking such hard-hitting questions as: “why aren’t you mentioning ACORN and Ayers more,” or some nonsense. It’s a complete farce.

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