For the Narcissist Lover in You…

So it’s Come to This: a Conservative Defending Obama

ImageI’m a bit grumpy about having to do this.

I am not a fan of president Obama.  If this comes as a shock to you, welcome to my blog, first time visitor!  While I am not a constant detractor, I am a conservative, thus I find myself in opposition to the president on many issues of core ideology.  For that reason, I rather resent that I have to defend him in this instance.

Let’s get right to it: the president did not say you didn’t build your own business.  He said (albeit a bit clumsily) that you didn’t build the roads and bridges that made your business possible.

Shall we look at the quote?

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

See it?  The “you didn’t build that” bit is referring to the roads and bridges.  He didn’t mean you didn’t build your business.

I really dislike having to point this out, but come on.  Pretending to be so stupid that we can’t understand what the president was really saying won’t help us.  Even now, a week or so later, guys like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other proponents of conservative truth are nearly apoplectic with shock (and delight?) over this quote, over the idea that president Obama has insulted the business class and handed credit for their work over to somebody else.

And why does this allegation stick so hard?  Because it is very likely that Barack Obama does, in fact, believe what he seemed to say.  The president is a collectivist.  He believes in the village, not the individual.  He promotes the government, not the private sector, as the ultimate benefactor of people.  This is not an insult, or even a surprise.  Most liberals would happily claim these as the basic tenets of their ideology.  Thus, when the president seems to say that business owners did not create their businesses, but owe their hard work to the collective at large, we are not surprised that he believes it, but only that he had the guts to admit it.

Which he didn’t.  Regardless of what most of us suspect the president truly believes, he did not say what the conservative talking heads are claiming.  They are pretending to be stupid so that they can pin an outrageous (and frankly likely) quote onto the president in an election year.

But the really annoying thing– at least to anyone who values truth above ideology– is that it isn’t necessary.  One does not need to take the president’s quote out of context for it to be outrageous.

He said that, when it comes to bridges and roads, business owners “didn’t build that”.  But, of course, they most certainly did.  Business owners, the hated capitalists that have succeeded in this country, pay far and away the majority of taxes.  The top 10% of wage earners pay over 70% of taxes, while the lower 50% paid barely 2%.  Clearly, the business owners did indeed pay for the bridges and roads that helped make their businesses function, while the lower 50% of wage earners– many of whom pumped their fists the hardest at Obama’s ding against corporate America– didn’t pitch in a cent for them.

This is where conservative talking points should be hitting.  Not the prolonged, completely unnecessary miss-quote.  I understand– and appreciate– the need to hit hard during an election year.  But if that hit isn’t based firmly in the truth, then frankly I– and any conservative thinker of conscience– don’t want any part of it.

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4 responses

  1. Excellent post! We need more honesty and less demagoguery in our politics. (I know how you feel, btw.)

    July 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

  2. I also get aggravated with misquotes. In Obama’s case, his actual words are often damning enough and need no embellishment. In this case, however, he did make both statements. They played them both on Fox News, and played them back to back on Fox radio this morning when this very issue came up. I heard them with my own ears in Obama’s own voice. I wish I could send you the links to listen to them, but my slow connection makes it impossible for me to play video clips, so I would have no idea whether I was sending you the right links or not. I wish someone else could find and post the links.

    My memory is not what it was, so I can’t swear for certain that this is correct; but as I remember it, the statement you are taking issue with came first, then the statement you quote came later in an attempt to clear up what he had first said. All I know for certain is that I heard both and know that he did say it both ways. Sometimes politicians make Freudian slips and are more truthful than they intend to be.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:57 am

  3. You have to listen to the statement, not just read it. If you hear it, “you didn’t build that” clearly did refer to the business.

    August 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm

  4. Jon

    I would also point out that given the rest of the quote, about supporters (teachers etc) helping you, that roads and bridges *could* merely be a metaphor. As in my support to you gave you the road you needed to build that business.

    I do like the article though, and this is the first I have actually heard the entire quote. Since it IS a pronoun, (and for a Harvard Law Degree individual he should know a thing or two about grammar and english), it is a poorly identified pronoun. Like, “The cookie resembles a church that I ate” gives the impression that I ate a church… It is not a clear pronoun, and should not be written that way.

    Given the obscurities of the words, it is not as obvious in this context what he actually MEANT with his statement, and since it isnt clear, he leaves himself open for attack. The only true spin on the statement which doesnt paint him in a negative light (but still makes him socialistic in nature) is the metaphor example: You didnt build your business by yourself. It took the support and efforts of those around you to make that happen.

    Im not going to judge intent by that quote alone, I would judge based on other things he has done, so I would side with the statement, that he does likely believe the perceived misquote.

    September 2, 2012 at 6:17 am

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