Barack Obama’s candid comment to Joe the Plumber about “spreading the wealth around” brought back memories of a similarly candid moment during Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign. During the Indiana primary, Kennedy spoke to an unreceptive audience of medical students at Indiana University. As the session progressed, he became increasingly unhappy with the tenor of the questions from the future doctors. Finally, in response to a question about where the money for his many social programs would come from, an in-your-face RFK responded by pointing at members of the audience and forcefully stating “From you! You!.”
These two episodes, separated by 40 years, reveal the similarities and differences between the two candidates. Obama spoke to Joe more in sorrow than in anger. He prefaced his comment about sharing the wealth by stating that he did not wish to punish success. Kennedy, with that massive chip on his small shoulders, appears to have harbored no such sentiments.
Kennedy, in short, was an S.O.B.; Obama is not. On the other hand, Kennedy was more honest about his redistributionist vision. Obama let it slip out in an off-guard, one-on-one moment. Kennedy shouted it out with relish to a crowd.
In the end, it comes to the same thing, and the achievement of the modern conservative movement ultimately may come to this — generally speaking, it preserved our economic system for 40 years.
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