Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eureka! I've Figured Out the Real Meaning of "You Didn't Build That"

Ever since Barack Obama uttered that bizarre line, "You didn't build that!," a statement entirely at odds with the America's traditional can-do-Horatio-Alger-born-in-a-log-cabin-but-can-end-up-in-the-White-House ethos, I've been trying to figure out why and how he could say such a thing. After reading the following by Ben Shapiro--he's writing about the Mother Jones "gotcha" on Romney--I was struck by epiphany:
In truth, Barack Obama doesn’t believe that just 47% of the American population is victimized. He believes, as does his shock force in the Occupy movement, that 99% of Americans are victimized by some shadowy 1%. Overlooked in his infamous “you didn’t build that” speech is a far more troubling notion: the notion that success in America comes from luck. As he put it, “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.” 
Surely Obama is correct in individual cases; there are certainly some smart, hardworking people who have failed miserably on the financial front. But most Americans were not successful because they found a back door to success. They are successful because they made smart decisions and worked hard. Obama, however, believes that there is some sort of perverse cronyism at work in American success stories, and that without a similarly cronyistic government to be your best friend, your father figure, your banker, you will fail.
In fact, there is some sort of perverse cronyism at work—in Obama's personal success story. At every stage of Obama's life, he was wafted upward not by his own hard work (after all, a guy who in High School was the equivalent of Jeff Spicoli can't be said to have been focused on his studies), but by someone--a professor, a Rev. Wright, a Valerie Jarrett, an Oprah--who took him under his/her wing, and gave him some help. Lots of help. So much help, in fact, that, combined with his own innate and irrepressible narcissism, he was able to scale the heights--something he could never have done on his own. What Obama was describing with his "you didn't build that" notion was his own experience. And because he's such a narcissist, as well as being the beneficiary of a million dollar education who, at the end of it all, went into "community organizing," and who on his own has built, well, nada, he extrapolated from his own life story, generalizing from the particular.

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