Sometimes, it can be difficult living in this age of cell phone cameras, seemingly infinite digital file storage and a media that operates at the speed of light. In a moment, a politician can say something, and within seconds, the rest of the world can find out about it. I’ll be the first one to admit that there seems to be some challenges to being a politician these days with which previous generations did not have to contend.
Still, nonetheless, I am getting thoroughly tired of politicians saying outrageous things, and then claiming that that was not what they said. As we all know, President Obama in Roanoke, Virginia claimed earlier this month, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” And since then, conservatives have, rightfully, not let him forget that American enterprise- not government- built this country.
Of course, having no basis for justifying what he said, Obama has backpedaled considerably to try and un-ring that bell and has claimed that his words have been taken out of context. So that there can be no misunderstanding, I will include the full quote, for those who have been living in a cave or have only been watching MSNBC these last few weeks:
“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
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. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”
Obama has since backed away from the comment and claimed that the most famous line was taken out of context. But if we put it into context, it just makes it worse! He begins by denigrating those who feel they got to where they are because they’re smart, insists that a collective effort (government) gave them help, stated that if they have a business, they didn’t built it, and then discusses the role of government in the creation of the internet. What part of this diatribe against entrepreneurism sounds like it’s being taken out of context?
Perhaps we might be able to believe Obama if this was a one-time gaffe. However, the Obama Administration has been increasingly hostile to businesses over the last three and half years and there has been nothing in this administration’s history of policies that could support a claim of supporting industry. But that’s not going to stop them from trying; the Obama administration released a new ad, countering the assertions by Romney and political pundits that Obama said- well, what he said. The ad states,
“Those ads taking my comments about small business out of context, they’re flat-out wrong. Of course Americans built their own businesses. Every day, hardworking people sacrifice to meet a payroll, to create jobs and make our economy run. And what I said was that we need to stand behind them, as America always has, by investing in education and training, roads and bridges, research and technology.”
I honestly don’t know what I find more unpalatable: the fact that we have a Marxist executive that promotes with his every move, an economic system where we “spread the wealth around”, or that he thinks so little of our collective intelligence that he thinks he can do some Jedi mind trick and tell us that he did not say what we heard him say.
I can understand a certain level of frustration if a two second quote is taken out of context. However, the entirety of Obama’s statement was rooted in a praise of collective achievement by the hands of government. This statement, while shocking in it’s candor, was no misstep or misunderstanding. It is directly in line with the leftist policies promoted by this administration.
After all, the context here isn’t just the rest of Obama’s speech, or “what he meant to say.” The context for these comments is his policies, which show that his vision of American economic success is centered around relationships with the government. It’s understandable that Obama would be dismissive of things like brilliant ideas and hard work as pathways to success when the most unsustainable businesses out there are receiving government loans and grants in return for bundled campaign donations. In Obama’s America, hard work and good ideas aren’t the path to success… crony connections to D.C. power-brokers are.
On the plus side, at least his shocking honesty has provided much comedic relief.