He said, "He said!"
It’s been over a week now since President Obama made a speech for which conservatives, and particularly Mitt Romney, have been exhaustively hammering him. Was it a major address on foreign policy? An announcement of a new round of quantitative easing? Oh, we wish. No, it was a rather mundane campaign speech, which featured the words “You didn’t build that.”
Of course, it had lots of other words – but that doesn’t much seem to matter.
To say that Fox et al is manufacturing a controversy over the President's remarks that business owners rely on the roads and bridges that all Americans depend on is not too strong a statement, and now that the mainstream media is repeating the distortion, Mitt Romney is using it in a campaign ad that hides what the President actually said.
Here’s the kicker: Romney agrees with what President Obama actually said. But that doesn’t much seem to matter either.
We know that the actual truth of what the President did or did not say is not really the point here. Anyone who cares to do so can watch the entire speech and see that the President is not disparaging small businesses, but rather making a case for sustaining investments in the public infrastructure that makes private enterprise possible. There’s even a good case to be made that we don’t care what the actual truth is – we just want to hear what sounds closest to our own beliefs. It is a convenient cognitive smoke screen for those inconvenient facts and hard-to-understand policy proposals.
Want some facts? The President was right: America was built by Americans (and a healthy injection of immigrant labor). It was built by our people, our government, and our businesses working together. Businesses depend on our highway system to move their products, our school system to educate their future workers, and our court system to keep their competitors honest. Romney admits that “a lot of people help you in a business” the “people who provide roads, the fire, the police.”
What is also fact is that Mr. Romney enjoys distorting reality. Romney admits that “a lot of people help you in a business”, but he's still distorting what the President said for political gain. Just add it to the list of everything else he's hiding: his tax returns, his time in the private sector, the identity of his multi-million dollar campaign contributors - just to name a few. Romney needs to come clean about what the President actually said and that he agrees with it.
I’m not worried about Mr. Romney, because he knows what he’s doing. I am worried about people like this, who can’t take the time to actually read to what their president is saying before they go out and put a banner in front of their establishment (one which I, and many others, will regrettably cross off our lunch lists) to protest what their President didn’t actually say.
A politician distorting reality is one thing, but a distorted electorate is quite another.