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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"You Didn't Build That"

President Obama spoke at a campaign event in Roanoke on July 13, 2012 . This passage has gotten attention:
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.
Liz Marlantes writes at The Christian Science Monitor:
Examined in context, it’s pretty clear what the president was trying to say. As numerous media outlets have noted, it’s really a flubbed version of the famous Elizabeth Warren “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own” speech that went viral last fall. Like Ms. Warren, Obama was making the argument that “wealthy, successful Americans” should pay a higher tax rate because they didn’t get to where they are without a lot of help from society. The line right before “you didn’t build that” was about roads and bridges – making it pretty clear that it was infrastructure the president was referring to, not businesses.
But the way it came out, it played right into the Romney campaign’s overall narrative about the president’s failure to understand how business and private enterprise work. .
And of course, that’s really what makes a gaffe a gaffe. If Romney’s primary point of attack against the president were something different – say, on cultural issues or foreign affairs – then the line may well have passed by unnoticed.
But when a candidate says something that seems to amplify the main argument against them, then it’s gold for the opposition.