Of course. NBC (or, the online news source formerly known as MSNBC) is trying to equate President Obama’s recently infamous “you didn’t build that” remark about Americans and their businesses with Mitt Romney’s “you didn’t get here on your own” remark about the Olympic athletes during the 2008 opening ceremonies. While President Obama was making the argument that the wealthy should pay even more in taxes because they need to stop thinking they’re “just so smart” or that they “worked harder than everyone else” and instead realize they could never have accomplished anything without some degree of dependency on government, Mitt Romney reminded the athletes to be grateful for the parents and coaches who loved and supported them — and NBC tries to posit that they’re both merely making an “it takes a village” argument. It’s cute, really.
But in 2002, during his speech at the Opening Ceremonies at the Winter Olympics — the games in which Romney was lauded for turning around the management — Romney made a similar argument about Olympians.
“Tonight we cheer the Olympians, who only yesterday were children themselves,” Romney said. “As we watch them over the next 16 days, we affirm that our aspirations, and those of our children and grandchildren, can become reality. We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real. You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.” …
“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right! [pumps fist].”
Forgive me, but I fail to see the ostensible resemblance.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. 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. (Applause.)
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.
Having appreciation for the loved ones in your life who’ve helped you to achieve through family and community feels somewhat different than groveling to the federal government for so magnanimously collecting the taxes in order to enforce the stable rule of law that ensures that we can reliably do business with one another. The government does not perform the same functions as my family, thank you very much — nor should it.