Since the president is widely agreed to be “the smartest guy ever to become president” (Michael Beschloss, presidential historian), the problem can’t be “what he said” but that you dummies aren’t smart enough to get the point he was trying to make. According to Slate’s David Weigel, the “you didn’t build that” bit referred back to something he’d said earlier in the speech – “somebody invested in roads and bridges.” You didn’t build those, did you? Or maybe he was referring back to “this unbelievable American system we have that allowed you to thrive.” You didn’t build the system, did you? Or maybe he was referring to the teleprompter. You didn’t build that, did you? Well, unless you’re Rajiv or Suresh from the teleprompter factory in Bangalore, you didn’t. Maybe he was referring back to something he said in a totally different speech – the Berlin Wall one, perhaps. You didn’t build that, did you? Who are we to say which of these highly nuanced interpretations of the presidential text is correct?
If this is the best all the King’s horses and all the King’s men can do to put Humpty Dumpty’s silver-tongued oratory together again, they might as well cut to the chase and argue that accurately quoting President Obama is racist. The obvious interpretation sticks because it fits with the reality of the last three-and-a-half years – that America’s chief executive is a man entirely ignorant of business who presides over an administration profoundly hostile to it.
But, just for the record, I did “invest in roads and bridges,” and so did you. In fact, every dime in those roads and bridges comes from taxpayers, because government doesn’t have any money except for what it takes from the citizenry. And the more successful you are, the more you pay for those roads and bridges.