It took four years, but Barack Obama has finally fulfilled the left’s hopes that he could articulate their philosophy with the same eloquence and clarity that Ronald Reagan explained conservatism. And now they’re wishing he hadn’t. Since scolding America’s entrepreneurs with his declaration that “You didn’t build that,” President Obama and his allies have been furiously backpedalling.
Leftists have lamented for years that the only reason that America has not fully embraced their vision was that they did not have as talented a spokesman to make the sale for them, as conservatives had in Ronald Reagan.
But, as the young ladies in Obama’s audiences swooned and fainted in 2008, the left believed that they finally had their man.
He even believed it, so much so that he gave the Queen of England an iPod preloaded with what he imagined were his most historic speeches. I doubt that she has swooned over a single phrase.
The ensuing four years have been disappointing for the left as Obama has either backed away from leftist rhetoric for fear of jeopardizing a second term or descended into Joe Bideneque fumble mouthery when he has tried to peddle the left’s wares to a skeptical public.
There are a number of problems with the defense that Obama didn’t mean what he clearly said about entrepreneurism. First of all, if we are to believe that Obama was talking about road construction, then we also have to believe that the most articulate leftist in the world and a graduate of Harvard Law School can’t turn in work
that would satisfy a third grade composition assignment.
Secondly, Obama was obviously plagiarizing an Elizabeth Warren rant
from months earlier.
And both cribbed the speech
from the far left UC Berkeley professor who encouraged and coached Occupy Wall Street.
Lakoff developed a linguistic narrative that progressives needed to
counter conservatives by focusing on the role of government in enabling
individual success, a narrative in which no person became successful on his or her own:
Nobody makes a dollar in this country in business without
using the common wealth…. The idea that there’s a self-made man, that’s
there’s a self-made millionaire is false, it is absolutely false, and
that is the thing that Obama missed…. Without this you don’t have those
roads, you don’t have that internet, you don’t have the banking system,
etc. [video added at bottom of post]
Read how Lakoff framed the issue
in a publication several years ago, then listen to the Obama and Warren
speeches, they are not identical but very close substantively and
Until recently, on the first page of her campaign website, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate in Massachusetts, had an embedded YouTube video of herself shrieking that business owners didn’t build it themselves. Like Obama, she argued that entrepreneurs owe their success to government and have little moral claim to their earnings.
It was the state that funded the schools where they were educated. It was the state that constructed the roads that their goods travel on. And, in an unintentional satire, she argued that it was the state that supplied them with a trained work force.
In an ironic twist, Elizabeth Warren even argued that it was the state supplied police force that protected the entrepreneur from wild-eyed leftist mobs of the sort that she and Obama regularly incite.
And because the state made their success possible, Warren and Obama argued that the state deserves a larger cut of the profits.
There is considerable evidence that Elizabeth Warren didn’t make it on her own. To gain professional advantage from affirmative action policies, she has claimed to be a Native American.
If we are to believe Obama’s memoir, he could not have made in into Harvard Law School without affirmative action.
I suppose that it’s natural for leftists who did not earn it on their own to assume that everyone else took shortcuts too.
I’d like to share a couple of paragraphs from a 1983 speech Ronald Reagan delivered
on the topic of entrepreneurism so that you can contrast his words with those of Barack Obama.
“The character and conscience of small business built this nation. You know, in his book, “Wealth and Poverty,” George Gilder wrote something about entrepreneurs that I’ve long believed. He said that, ‘Most contribute far more to society than they ever recover, and most of them win no riches at all. They are the heroes of economic life, and those who begrudge them their rewards demonstrate a failure to understand their role and their promise.’
Well, wouldn’t it be nice to hear a little more about the forgotten heroes of America — those who create most of our new jobs, like the owners of stores down the street; the faithful who support our churches, synagogues, schools, and communities; the brave men and women everywhere who produce our goods, feed a hungry world, and keep our families warm while they invest in the future to build a better America? That’s where miracles are made, not in Washington, D.C.”
The fundamental difference is not salesmanship, but substance. Reagan believed that the nation’s creative energy flowed from the entrepreneur and that government fed off the private sector. The left treats the private sector as a parasite that should be charged rent for its free ride.