Get ready for the latest in lazy mendacity: or, perhaps, as Daffy Duck used to say: “pronoun trouble.”
The latest outrage is this quote from Barack Obama: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Heritage says that this was a “slap in the face to hard-working Americans.” Rush Limbaugh’s item on it titled “Barack Obama Hates This Country.” Fox News headlined their item “Obama to business owners: ‘You didn't build that.’”
Look at the full quote, however, and you’ll see that Obama was riffing on the Elizabeth Warren theme of how no one succeeds on their own:
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 point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
By “you didn’t build that,” Obama clearly means business-people didn’t build “the unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.”
This is basically just “American exceptionalism” again: take something the president said out of context, and repeat it no matter how often it gets explained and debunked.
The question is: why resort to cheap, lazy tricks like that, instead of making an actual case based on what Obama actually said and done?
The obvious answer is that the Fox/Limbaugh Republican-aligned media don’t care. There’s no incentive for anyone to make a careful argument when lazy lies will be broadcast just as much, and just as efficiently. The result isn’t just mendacity; it’s lazy mendacity, whether it’s pulling a quote out of context or claiming that John Kerry only released two years of tax returns when in fact it was twenty.
Why not claim the president hates small business people, when saying he does will get you (within the Republican Party and media) amply rewarded for it?