I meant to post something about this yesterday afternoon, but got distracted. Well, better late than never:
In an extemporaneous (no script) speech in Roanoke, Va., last Friday, President Obama said this:
[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
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. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President — because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.
Notice, please, the passage in the second paragraph where Obama said: “Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Clearly, he was saying that if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build the roads and bridges that might benefit that business. Somebody else made that happen, just as somebody else helped create our American system in which you can thrive.
The whole point of his little speech is that success in business often depends on the efforts of other people and society in general as well as on the efforts of the individual.
But the folks at Fox News, ever eager to make Obama look bad, took two of his sentences out of context to create a false impression. They quoted him as saying: ”If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, somebody else made that happen.”
Fox implied that Obama said “you didn’t build” your business. What he actually said was that “you didn’t build” the roads and bridges.
Well, of course, following the cue from Fox News, the right-wing noise machine shifted into high gear with false claims that Obama said small business owners didn’t build their own businesses.
In reality, he said no such thing.