The one-sided fight for the Founders

Obama has conceded America’s past to his opponents. It may cost him the election.

1. Who built that business?

Here’s the latest example of Obama’s concession.

As political junkies are aware (and attack ads will soon make the rest of America aware), President Obama recently said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Former Governor Romney pounced on Obama’s statement: “This idea of criticizing and attacking success, of demonizing those in all walks of life who have been successful, is something that is so foreign to us that we can’t understand it.”

Obama, of course, was not attacking success but supporting it. He was explaining one aspect of how entrepreneurs become successful – the necessary partnership businesses have with society and government. Obama feels the need to explain it because he wants to make the bigger point that Romney’s go-it-alone policies will hurt entrepreneurs. And, strictly speaking, Obama was referring to roads and bridges, not businesses. Here’s the quote in context:

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.

The pundits say that Obama harmed himself by stating his case in such a way that a sentence could be taken out of context and easily misconstrued, and I suppose they’re right.  One of the Washington Post’s political pundits, Aaron Blake, points out that Obama’s remark feeds into the perception of him as a “big-government liberal.”

Obama frequently tries to express an individual’s relationship to society and government. But he is largely wasting his breath. Why? Because he and most other progressive politicians I know have not laid the philosophical groundwork for it.