Friday, July 20, 2012

"You Didn't Build That"

When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Source: President Barack Obama.
That doesn't sound controversial, does it? So, why are Republicans making it sound like President Obama issued the Communist Manifesto in his comments this week at a campaign rally in Roanoke, Virginia? Wait, you say that I'm taking the sentence above out of context? That Republicans want to take a different sentence out of context? Republicans are making hay out of another sentence. "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that."

And by Republicans, I have to include Mike Hashimoto, editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News. Hashimoto takes that one sentence and proceeds to tell readers that the words "pull back the curtain on some personal truth, a core belief" of President Obama. For Hashimoto, "I think it's pretty clear that this is a president -- of the United States -- who has little appreciation for the American way and certainly the American Dream. To his mind, if government doesn't provide it, it's not worth having." [Emphasis his.]

That's a lot of mind-reading there. Thankfully, Americans don't have to read President Obama's mind on the subject. They don't have to read paragraph after paragraph of Hashimoto's own explanation of all that President Obama meant by that one sentence, the only one Hashimoto bothers to quote. Americans don't even have to ask President Obama himself to explain what he meant. He already did. Just read the full context -- a context that Republicans invariably strip from the retelling -- and you know exactly what President Obama meant.

After the jump, the full context.

Read President Obama's full remarks:
We've already made a trillion dollars' worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don't work, and make government work more efficiently...We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more ...

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn't -look, 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.
To me, and I'm sure to millions of Americans, that actually sounds pretty uncontroversial, like something you probably heard a lot from your parents growing up (in America), or still hear from your minister on many Sundays.

I can understand why Mitt Romney and Republicans would take one sentence out of context and twist it to contradict the point President Obama is making all through that speech. But Mike Hashimoto? He's supposedly a professional journalist. Instead he is behaving like a GOP hack. It's an all-too-common trait of his, which is why I seldom find anything of value in his work for The Dallas Morning News.

To his credit, fellow The Dallas Morning News editorial writer Jim Mitchell looks at the full context of the quote and concludes that Mike Hashimoto twisted and distorted President Obama's words, only Mitchell never mentions the name Hashimoto. It's the latest example of a truism of the news business: journalists are quick to pontificate on things they have no direct knowledge of, things on the other side of the world even, but are congenitally unable to report on what's going on just one desk over from their own.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

Jim Schutze, in Unfair Park, has his own complaint about The Dallas Morning News, how it allows Sen. John Cornyn to distort the President's words:

"I do get that this is all just gotcha campaign politics as practiced by both sides. But why does The Dallas Morning News feel compelled to turn over its op-ed page to a free slasher ad for Republicans?"