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Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” Gaffe Gains Steam

So much of politics today involves avoiding the dreaded political gaffe rather than espousing policy. And, oh boy, does Obama appear to have committed a big one.

While giving a speech at a campaign event in Roanoke, Va., the president said:

“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 words in bold have been seized upon by the Romney campaign to imply that Obama believes small business owners owe all their success to government spending:

Romney’s offensive maneuvering has resonated strongly with fiscal conservatives and small business owners. (This lumberyard owner has a pretty clear opinion of the president’s speech.) And the ensuing Internet memes were swift and, well, rather funny.

However, the mainstream media immediately leapt to Obama’s defense, claiming he’s been taken out of context (you gotta wonder where these people were when the Obama team was unfairly browbeating Romney for his “I like being able to fire people” quote). New York magazine says Romney is a liar. And, among other outlets, the Associated Press and Washington Post have also defended Obama’s words. They say we just need to listen to the full context of the speech.

Well, here it is:

Here’s the thing: Even when I listen to the speech in its entirety, it still sounds to me as if the president is arguing that entrepreneurs owe their  success to government spending rather than hard work and ingenuity. The president can backpedal, explain away his words and rely on a sympathetic media all he wants, but–whether he misspoke, communicated poorly or actually meant it–he said what he said. And his words may go down as the biggest gaffe of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The reason “you didn’t build that” has so incensed Obama’s opponents, whether he was taken out of context or not, is that we are a divided nation. There are those who believe that the government has not done enough to tax the rich, regulate Wall Street or ultimately to provide for its citizens, while others believe the government has stifled economic growth with taxes, red tape and other oversteps.

Principally, these are two entirely different world views. One favors freedom of the individual and the other believes in the benefits of a collectivist society. World views also tend to divide Americans on key sportsmen’s issues such as gun control and animal rights. For example, collectivists often put exclusive faith in the police to protect them from harm. They don’t even trust themselves with firearms let alone you. Yet advocates for individual rights believe that personal safety is ultimately up to them, and for many people the responsibility includes firearm ownership. The collectivists call this paranoia; the individualists calls it emergency preparedness. And while most collectivists would starve if they woke up tomorrow and all the Whole Foods were closed, perhaps a few would survive thanks to the generosity of individualists, who’d have plenty of fried catfish and grilled venison to go around.

Okay, that was a joke. But the point is a large percentage of Americans believe in the freedom of the individual and, rightly or wrongly, they perceive that Obama is against such liberties. They work hard. They’re proud of their accomplishments. And they don’t want to be told “you didn’t build that.”

7 Responses
  • Windsailor

    Of course he believes this, after all what else has a socialist/Marxist to believe if the government is the be-all, end-all of civilization. This was known about him since before the election but the media chose to ignore his educators and associations. After all, he was the first representative of his race and allowances had to be made…….the ultimate application of Affirmative Action.

  • Sixguns

    Funny thing, that’s not he said in entirity. Some news, blogs, and websites keep editing out the roads and bridges that my small company didn’t build but utilize to get to customers and expand our area.

    If a Gaffe is what Romney is building his election then we are in ****creek. I really hope he does better than that, because he has a long trqck record of aweful gaffes that can be used against him.

  • Flyfishfan

    If one listens to the entire speech and not the Fox edited part, the President is correct. Every single business and corporation owe a gret deal to the government. Many CEOs webnt to public high school and colleges. The highways businesses ship their goods on are there because of government. Government is not evil. In fact, I am glad we have a Goverment to protect us from the corporations that the right wingers want to protect.

    • Western Sky's

      Talk about Corp Protection how aabout Jeffry Immel and G.E taking jobs to Brazil and Who knows were, whom Control a big Corp called NBC! Read Michael Savages book TrickleUp poverty and now Trickle Down Tyranny but start out with the Savage Nation,the Enemy with In and Liberalisim is a Mental Disorder!

      You lose the Argument and Barry is a schill for B.P and he has inside info to making money given to him and mangaed for him by Wall Street brokers big Corps in Energy to lie to us about green technology and the
      price of tea in China!

      It is All freemen from the United States Education or not that create and govt by the People is to direct the Law as written and when we have differences from state to state and not respect our Individual Soverignty! example west of the MS River The CO water Pact, The National Forrest on State Land not the GD BLM.

      The home grown Construction companys who provide Private and Public sector skills The Oil Company’s sure as hell did not have govt open up land for them they aqiared it them selvs as did ranching and all the govt is suppose to do is make it all equal s progress and the change of time came and went, All this Commie want’s is to give it away to his masters in Moscow and make his life style Period Americ or Not he is a Neocon Marxist and Is not a Muslim or a Christian

  • Jaydee

    Sorry Barry…infrastructure came after the formation of a healthy business friendly economy….not BEFORE. If you want a good education stay away from Harvard.

  • Eric

    The President is saying that no man is an island. If you own a small business (which I personally do), you owe much of your success to the nation that makes it possible. Without our nation and its laws and shared resources (the roads to move products, the police to help protect our stores, the banking regulations that keep our money safe and insured, and the public schools which produce most of our workers and our customers) very few private businesses would succeed. Mine wouldn’t, that’s for sure.

  • Stephen

    I find your choice of content interesting and somewhat puzzling. You’ll put something up there that has no obvious connection to hunting or fishing, but is damning to Obama, but you’ll fail to include content that is germaine to sportsmen–like Romney’s lack of understanding when he asked an editorial board in Reno why we had all the public land we had (Hello, Mitt… if you hunt or fish in the West, public land is your friend).

    I’m thinking there needs to be a real effort to balance this site out–your red underpants are showing.

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