Nevertheless, the Obama campaign, in the ad, says it’s not true. “The only problem?,” the ad text reads. “That’s not what he said.” It then turns to Obama, from the same Roanoke campaign speech, who said, “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.”
Which is true. Obama did say that. But he also said the line that Romney says he said — “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
And, in fact, later in the ad the Obama campaign actually plays the clip that Romney quotes of Obama, at about :40 second spot.
“Mitt Romney will say anything,” the ad concludes. It turns out, he’ll even say Obama’s words when quoting him.
At Reason, Tim Cavanaugh explains “How ‘You didn’t build that’ became ‘He didn’t say that'”:
The popularization of Derridaian post-modernism since the 1990s has generally been a lot of fun, turning mainstream Americans into sharp observers of signs and meaning who are sure that either there’s nothing outside the text or everything is outside the text or both. But at some point it helps to look at that thing above the subtext, which is generally known as “the text.” Up to this point the presidential election has been Obama vs. Obama Junior. With “You didn’t build that,” which his campaign has made no effort to clarify or redirect, the president has drawn a line in the sand.
There is no nebulousness here. Beyond the paragraph quoted above, Obama calls government spending “the investments that grow our economy.” He ridicules the tendency of Americans to brag about being hard workers with a variant of “So’s your old man.” (“Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”) He instinctively names “a great teacher” when looking for somebody to credit for causing success in the working world. The president has boldly presented his view on how an economy works. His supporters should give him the respect of taking his words seriously.
And by doubling down on those of us who have started businesses and were raised in families with strong entrepreneurial spirits who take umbrage at the president’s words, Obama and his fellow elitist supporters are having yet another bitter clingers moment, as John Podhoretz recently wrote:
But when he extended it to personal and private endeavor, the president revealed the danger of this message—to him. ”If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” Obama said. “Somebody else made that happen.” Aside from the fact that this isn’t even remotely true—if you’re a taxpayer and government funds were used to “make something happen,” then by definition you paid for it—it was profoundly stupid politically. In 2007, the last year for which we have data, according to the Census Bureau, there were 21.7 million businesses in the United States with no employees—meaning they were sole proprietorships, or free-lance businesses employing only their owner. Of the six million remaining businesses in the U.S., more than 3 million had 1 to 4 employees, and 1 million had 5 to 9. So, all in all, small businesses run by one person employing fewer than ten numbered an astonishing 25 million.
This is probably the matter of greatest pride for each and every one of the people who runs that business. He or she views himself or herself as a hard-working, go-getting, scrappy individualist. And it’s likely that many of them—many, many of them—are independent voters. Certainly that was the case 20 years ago when Ross Perot scored 20 percent of the vote, overwhelmingly from small businessmen who were angered by George H.W. Bush and yet couldn’t pull the lever for Bill Clinton. America is different demographically, but the class of people to whom Perot appealed is far larger than it was then.
Obama hates that notion — truly hates it with a passion. He’d much rather have an economy dominated by a handful of “too big to fail” enterprises such as Government Motors and Solyndra — far easier to herd that millions of small businesses — that he can throw money — our money — to, a mindset that was on its way out when John Kenneth Galbraith espoused it a half century ago. Or to put it another way:
In a video appearance from 2009, venture capitalist Paul Holland — who had given the maximum legal contribution to Obama, and whose companies received over 6 million in government dollars — described his feelings when heard about the billions up for grabs.
“He came in to do his talk and opened his talk with, ‘I’m Matt Rogers I am the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy and I have $134 billion that I have to disperse between now and the end of December,’” Holland told the audience. “So upon hearing that I sent an email to my partners that said Matt Rogers is about to get treated like a hooker dropped into a prison exercise yard.”
Joe the Plumber’s simple question to Obama, which led the candidate to admit that his style of governing is “spread the wealth around” — the result of which can be seen in his crony’s “pimp” anecdote above — came far too late for an exhausted McCain campaign to capitalize on it. In contrast, as Podhoretz writes in a follow-up post, “Romney Should Send Obama a Fruit Basket” for having this gift dropped into his lap to define the stark choice voters will face this fall.
(Headline inspired by the dialectics of Marx.)
Update: Speaking of Bush #41, “The chart that shows just how much reelection trouble Obama is in.”
Related: From Bryan Preston at the Tatler, “Obama ‘Truth Team:’ Don’t Quote the President Accurately! That’s a False Attack!” Also at the Tatler, don’t miss “Barack Obama, the Great Demotivator,” for lots more additional Demotivators, which our readers didn’t create, in response to the words that the president didn’t utter.
More: Michael Walsh has further thoughts on B.H. Obama versus H. Roark in his newest PJ Media column. “So there it is, Election 2012 in a nutshell: the individual vs. the collective,” Michael writes. “We know which side the president is on. Which side are you on?”