July 19, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Obama’s ‘you didn’t build that’ remark leads to yet another lie by Romney and conservatives
In a speech last week President Obama had his Elizabeth Warren moment. The president accurately explained (although he could have worded it better) why government has a role in the economy. At no time did Obama say that business owners aren’t responsible for creating their own businesses. He’s only pointing out what should be obvious unless you are someone who believes without proof that government is always evil or wrong. In other words, a right-wing partisan hack.
Government infrastructure projects over the past 60 years have led directly and indirectly to millions of jobs. The roads, the bridges, the internet, these things have had a profound effect on the economic direction of this country.
Republicans, conservatives, Fox News pundits and Mitt Romney would like you to believe a lie. They would like you to believe that President Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” And you know what, Obama did say those exact words in that exact order, but context matters. And sometimes context can be a tricky thing, especially if bias is clouding your better judgement. Here’s the full text of what President Obama said leading up to the now infamous “you didn’t build that” line.
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.
The president was clearly talking about the “roads and bridges” when he said “you didn’t build that.” Everything he talked about leading up to that point and after that point relates to how government infrastructure in America has made it possible for businesses to succeed. This is where nuance comes into play, and well, conservatives aren’t good with nuance. It’s entirely possible for a business owner to have a good idea, start a business and succeed and for government infrastructure to play a role in the success of that business. The two are not mutually exclusive.
But even with the full context of Obama’s speech on display I’m sure plenty of people on the right will continue to believe what they want to believe. They already have a pre-existing narrative supplied to them by a steady stream of Fox News pundits and conservative radio hosts. This narrative posits that Barack Obama is a socialist who doesn’t believe in capitalism or America. This is the exact message Mitt Romney has pivoted to this week in calling Obama and his policies “foreign” in an attempt to change the subject off of tax returns.
If you believe something with a passion: that President Obama hates success, the evidence for your belief, no matter how flawed that belief is, will be everywhere.