Wednesday, September 12, 2012


September 12, 2012

You didn’t build that. So what was he talking about? The flim-flam artists extracted those four words from President Obama’s speech and turned them into a reusable cannonball to fire at him at will.
Mitt Romney and his pals shortened what was really said so as to give it the exact opposite meaning. Then they made that brazen distortion the central theme of their convention.
Here’s the actual sentence: “"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.”
It’s abundantly clear to all but the dumbest cluck that he meant the unbelievable American system. Full marks to you, of course for creating your business but you had help you didn’t even know about. In other words, the unseen work of your countrymen is helping it run.
For anyone to actually believe the president thinks someone who built up a business didn’t really do it beggars belief. It takes a lo-o-ong stretch of the imagination. And yet that’s what the liars actually want us to think. It’s the way of politics today but surely no-one’s birdbrained enough to swallow that ridiculous notion.
In his column of August 8, local Republican chairman Roy Roberts misquotes the president as saying: “They didn’t make it.” Say what? Still gettin’ it wrong, Roy. Do try and keep up; you’re not even close so you owe us all a cigar. Clearly, accuracy is not this old gentleman’s strong point. Maybe it’s time The Chairman moved over to his rockin’ chair.
Did the president “insult” small business owners by reminding them they had some assistance? I might could know a little bit about small business. In 1977 I arrived in New York from London with a wife, 7-year-old child and just $1,200. I was soon given so many assignments by various foreign news outlets that I had to hire help. My agency grew, providing work for a couple dozen journalists, all money coming from outside the USA but spent right here on home and office necessities including telephones, taxis, airlines... and taxes.
My employees deserve full credit, but nothing would have been possible without the infrastructure put there and maintained by other folks. I built it... with the backing of them all.
So is the truth important? To me, very. To some I know it’s anathema. When challenged about falsehoods just before the Republican convention last month Romney’s close aide Neil Newhouse harrumphed: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
Then Romney running mate Paul Ryan went straight onstage and told the world a big fat howler. He said Obama had broken a promise to keep open a General Motors assembly plant in his Wisconsin hometown of Janesville. What Ryan didn’t say was that the plant was closed before Obama even took office.
Still, you tell the lie often enough without flinching, which he did, then folks believe you. California Democrat John Burton got in a flap last week for invoking the name Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist. Let’s take a look at the history here.  
In ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler wrote about regular folks: “In the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victim to the big lie than the small lie.”
You tell it big, you tell it often and ordinary working people will believe it because they cannot imagine anyone being so brazen. Goebbels added his two pfennigs when he accused Churchill and Britain of exactly that. He then went on to use the Big Lie to justify the government-sanctioned murder of six million Jews.
Taking words out of context is an easy way of duping the population – unless you get caught. When Romney said he “liked to fire people” it was clear he meant insurance companies, not workers. Democrat Jack Markell was caught.
A look at reveals who’s telling the most atrocious untruths these days. Fortunately for Romney, he has oodles of money for pants because he has already burned up 15 pairs; Michele Bachmann is a close second with 13 panties on fire. Obama’s whoppers were five – below Newt Gingrich’s seven and John McCain’s nine. Overall, Republican Big Lies totaled 180 to Democrats’ 33. Tell you something? Yeah yeah, whenever faced with uncomfortable facts the indoctrinated attack the messenger.
Republicans were squealing with glee, though, as they twisted Obama’s four words into a battle cry, pretending he was anti-small business, anti success, anti-America. Innovators from the Wright Brothers through Henry Ford to one of Obama’s great heroes, Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs, were shown as “not” having built “that”.
Gaudily emblazoned at their convention, the slogan: “We built it”. Built what? They didn’t say. It wasn’t the Tampa Bay Times Forum they occupied because two thirds of its construction was financed by government. And who’s the “we”? A key speaker, small business owner Sher Valenzuela from Delaware, turned out to have received $17 million in federal loans and contracts.
So what Obama said  was true. No-one exists in a vacuum. At the Democratic convention last week financial whiz Elizabeth Warren avoided the flytrap and put it like this: “We build it together.” And that’s America – a nation united, not a rabble of greedsters constantly elbowing each other in the face.


© Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 22 years ago. Previous articles can be found on