AEIdeas

The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

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Discussion: (627 comments)

  1. the dark one

    So if I’m following you correctly, you’re not disputing the truth of what the President said. You just don’t think he said it in the right way.

    1. RonRonDoRon

      Can’t be sure who you are responding to, but I’ll give you my take.

      As to the specific “You didn’t build that..” sentence, Obama may or may not feel that strongly about the societal contribution behind individual business success – I don’t know and won’t try to read his mind. I don’t think he meant that sentence to come out like that. My main reaction to that is – why no clarification? Why, instead, the torturing of the rules of grammar and syntax, and an ad implying that Romney is a liar for repeating verbatim what Obama said in that sentence.

      As to the overall message of the importance of societal structure and infrastructure as foundation within which all success takes place, to the extent that it’s true, it’s a truism – everyone who has ever given it any thought knows it’s true (and anyone who denies it is ignorant or foolish).

      But to pound away at that message is to imply that most business people have an over-inflated sense of their own importance and would deny the importance of societal goods. Of course that’s true of some but, to me, his speech sets up an implied straw man by lecturing all businesspersons about society and infrastructure. Very few successful entrepreneurs are so ignorant or misguided as to not understand the importance of societal structure.

      His speech also has an implied conflation of society and government: “Because society contributed to your success, you should pay more taxes to the government.

  2. Shawn Neville

    I am amazed that the entire apparatus around presidential speech making let that remark pass. The message check, the fact check, the gut check, the advance copy to local VIPs., and lead on the advance team. Easily, twenty smart staffers read it before it was printed up on Air Force One and put into a blue folder marked with the Seal of the President of the United States.

    And yet, it said “you didn’t build that.” Presidential? On message? Factual? No red flag raised? No objections? Or was it just one red flag, just one we haven’t collectively seen in awhile…. comrades.

  3. Not to be persnickety, but John Rawls was an American philosopher, so I don’t know how un- or anti- American applying his ideology would be. Admittedly, he pontificated against the traditional American free market system.

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