Harvard Law School’s answer to Huey Long unmasked himself during a joint session of Congress two days ago.
At the State of the Union address on Wednesday President Obama conducted himself like a chest-beating Latin American caudillo when he took the unprecented unusual step of dressing down the black robed Supreme Court justices seated in front of him.
“With all due deference to separation of powers last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests including foreign corporations to spend without limit in our elections,” said Obama. “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people and I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.”
Obama was fulminating against the Supreme Court’s Jan. 21 decision in Citizens United v. FEC that struck down the McCain-Feingold law’s prohibition on corporate political spending, determining it to constitute a particularly odious variety of censorship.
Of course Obama was completely wrong as Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times and law professor Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, quickly noted. Smith said the president’s statement was “blithering ignorance of the law or demagoguery of the worst kind.”
Notwithstanding the new court ruling, the law already forbids foreign nationals including foreign corporations from making “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which Smith noted was not at issue in the case.
But Obama didn’t want to let the facts get in the way of a good Marxist rant.
Before Obama, the most memorable practitioner of this kind of thuggish demagoguery was Huey Long, the excitable so-called Kingfish from Louisiana. Throughout his career as governor, and later, U.S. senator from Louisiana, Long railed against the wealthy, blaming them for the nation’s problems.
Economics was a zero-sum game and coercive government-directed redistribution of wealth was the key to society’s problems, as Long saw it.
“The same mill that grinds out the extra rich is the same mill that will grind out the extra poor, because, in order that the extra rich can become so affluent, they must necessarily take more of what ordinarily would belong to the average man,” said Long.
That doesn’t sound much different than Obama’s statement to Joe the Plumber, does it? Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 that “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
Long’s admirers reminisce about the Kingfish’s all-too-brief political career.
They claim Long failed to receive proper credit for changes in government policy that came out of his “Share Our Wealth” movement:
The Great Depression persisted for six years after Long’s death, and the federal government gradually adopted policies to regulate the economy and provide for the public good. Many of today’s federal programs address causes championed by Huey Long:
* Social Security
* Veterans Benefits
* College Financial Aid
* Works Progress Administration
* FDIC bank insurance
* Medicare and Medicaid
* Food Stamps
* Housing Assistance
* Graduated Income Tax and Inheritance Tax
Obama, who is pushing for socialized medicine and cap-and-trade resembles Long more and more every day.