You Didn’t Build That Redux

by Shannen W. Coffin

Some commenters on my prior post, blinded by what is an admirable disdain for anything Obamish, may have missed (or at least minimized) my greater point: Even giving the president the benefit of the doubt, the whole speech is a train wreck. 

Perhaps it was a tactical error by the Romney campaign to focus its firepower on a single, ambiguous (charitably speaking) sentence, when there is so much about the speech that offends anyone who believes in meritocracy. Obama scoffed at “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.” No doubt true, but what of it? Not every hardworking person invents a working light bulb, but we celebrate Edison’s hard work and ingenuity in doing so, and well we should. Americans don’t begrudge such achievements but are happy to realize their benefits. But to Obama, that individual achievement and the effort that goes into it runs counter to his collectivist goals and is thus the subject of mockery.  

Romney could well be making a half-dozen ads based on the speech — it is rich fodder for ridicule. Its faults go well beyond the sentence that Obama is currently crying foul on. And that might be the reason that it wasn’t a tactical error at all. Having the president continue to talk about this train wreck — even if it is to defend what he “really said” — may not be such a bad thing after all. 

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