Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obama Said a Thing, So Apparently Republicans Have to Prove Him Right

Over the weekend, President Obama did his best Elizabeth Warren impression:
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.
Now, there's absolutely nothing objectionable in what I just quoted at all.  Unless of course the only part you quote is "If you've got a business -- you didn't built that," ignoring the fact that "that" refers to the "roads and bridges" in the previous sentence.  So of course that's what the Republican National Committee has done.  And you know what, that's fair.  Ok, that's not fair at all, but for better or worse (definitely worse) we live in a soundbite culture and knowing that Obama probably should have said something like "If you've got a business, you didn't build the roads and bridges that let customers get to it."  BAM nothing Republicans can use.

But I didn't title this column "Obama Said a Thing and Republicans Took Advantage of It In An Intelligent Fashion."  No, instead they decided to make a series of internet memes (this is never a good idea).  Here's my favorite:


So we're going to put aside that pictures of Obama smiling and looking cool probably aren't the best way to attack him.  Instead lets break this down point by point:
  • I'm writing this on my MacBook Pro and my iPhone is never out of arms reach, even when I'm in the shower (I may have a problem), and I have an enormous amount of respect for Steve Jobs genius and accomplishments.  That said, he didn't actually create the iPod out of thin air all by himself.  He had hundreds of engineers and software designers backing him up.
  • But hey, let's ignore the people who designed the iPod and the ones who actually "built" it.  It's still a pretty expensive paperweight if you don't have a functional power grid to charge its batteries.
  • And even if you somehow manage to bootstrap your way out of that whole 'turning it on' thing, I've got to say, it's still pretty boring without the government created internet allowing you to access the iTunes Store and actually put music on the iPod.
  • Now it'd be pretty easy to say that even if you could turn on and load up an iPod without that pesky government, Apple's still going to have problems selling them without those roads and bridges Obama was talking about.  But you know what, people really love their iPods and I bet they'd find a way to get to the Apple Store without them.  After all, there's a reason they're literally the most valuable retail real estate in the world.  Which probably makes them thankful that they have a police force they can rely on to stop thefts of their incredibly valuable merchandise that can fit in your pocket.
I could keep going, but I feel like I've already used a lot of words to try to get my point across.  If only someone had maybe articulated it succinctly for me.  Oh wait:
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 I'd like to thank the RNC for proving the point. 

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