Rush Limbaugh recently mocked me because I do not call President Obama a socialist. Although I asked Obama to explain his ''socialistic tenets'' in my last interview with him, I have not branded him with the ''S'' word, because the label does not exactly apply to his governance thus far.
As defined in the American Heritage Dictionary, socialism is a social organization in which the means of distributing and producing goods is owned collectively. Last time I looked, my production of material was owned by my corporation; the government was not involved. Yes, the federal, state and local governments can tax me at will, and they do. But that's a constitutional mandate and part of our capitalistic system. So until Obama begins seizing condos, I cannot put the ''S'' word on his resume.
Of course, millions of Americans disagree with me, and I have plenty of e-mails to prove it. The basic theme is ''we don't need no stinkin' dictionary to tell us Obama is a socialist.'' OK, fine. I admit the man wants a huge federal presence to control as much of the economy as possible. I will agree that he is a big income-redistribution guy. But as long as he isn't nationalizing industry or purloining private property, I don't think the socialist label is accurate.
But what I think doesn't matter. If socialism and Obama become linked in the minds of most voters, the president is done -- and thus, the campaign to label him Huge Chavez Lite. According to a recent Gallup poll, 36 percent of Americans view socialism positively, but 58 percent see it as a negative. No American president could win re-election if deemed a socialist.
There is only one socialist in Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders is proud to state that he wants the government to call the economic shots and make sure there is ''economic justice.'' That means if your house is too big, the feds should be able to subdivide it. Sanders is a frightening guy. They love him on NBC News.
But let's get back to the president. If he does not begin tamping down the big government ''nanny state'' strategy, I believe the socialist label will get traction. Even with all our problems, the United States remains the most successful economy in the world, offering the most opportunity to the most people. Just ask the 12 million illegal aliens currently in this country. Capitalism is not going anywhere, and socialism will not take root here. If Obama gets on the wrong side of this, he is a one-termer for sure.
But short of putting Sanders in handcuffs, there really isn't much the president can do to turn the ''S'' word situation around. Except maybe hang around with Donald Trump.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show ''The O'Reilly Factor.''