Soledad O’Brien puts words in Christine O’Donnell’s mouth, then invokes her mother’s Cubanness to justify it.

In this interview, Christine O’Donnell comments on the Romney campaign’s communications strategy and its criticisms of what she calls Obama’s philosophy of “collectivism.” Soledad O’Brien, whose mother was born in Cuba, pounces: “Collectivism is another word for communism.”

From there, O’Brien rides the premise that O’Donnell is referring to “communism” through the end of the clip, using that premise to beat back an O’Donnell charge that never actually came.

As evidence tat Obama is not a communist, O’Brien points out that his administration has put money “into the private sector.”

“I mean, my mother’s Cuban right? So I can talk a lot about communism, between you… I know a lot about it.”

She goes on to talk about government-funded levees that protect private oil company assets.

My opinion:

O’Brien’s statement that the Obama administration has put tax money into the private sector, or invested it to the benefit of the private sector, is right. Where she misses the mark (in principle, not in scale) is in suggesting that there is difference between taxing Americans to redistribute wealth to the benefit of American corporations, and enslaving Cubans to the benefit of Spanish investors in Cuba.

The somewhat uniquely ignorant (“uniquely,” that is, among people news media) thing about O’Brien’s comment is that she invokes her mother’s Cuban heritage as evidence that she “knows a lot about communism.” But the fallacy she engages in together with people of both parties is the suggestion that crony capitalism and Cuban Communism are significantly different in any way other than how they’re branded.

There isn’t a fundamental moral difference between government saving an automotive company from the market forces of a financial crsis and government saving a hotel chain from consequences of freedom in the labor market.

The Cuban system is only communist in name. It has never redistributed wealth equitably. There are still slums. There are still privileged classes. And it’s all by design.

No. Cuban-brand communism is the same cronyism we’re accustomed to here, but taken to its most radical extreme. It’s government taking what is rightfully the people’s to protect big businesses in which the people have no stock, sell the people propaganda that claims its all in their best interest, and maintain what is, ultimately, the hemisphere’s largest government housing project.

It’s one thing to debate the degree to which government involvement is acceptable. Maybe you think there’s a place for a little socialism, communism or redistribution in America. In fact, chances are you do. You might not describe it that way, but if you want income tax money being spent on just about anything the government currently does, you favor a government initiation of force for the sake of wealth redistribution. Maybe you even think the world needs a crony or two (like a some big infrastructure and military contractors) to run properly.

But this — having the responsibility of so prominent a place in journalism, only to treat it so flippantly as to say “my mother was born in a certain place, so I know what I’m talking about,” and then turn it into an excuse to grandstand on empty rhetoric and avoid calling a spade a spade — is another thing entirely.