"You Didn't Build That," but You Sure Did Edit It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 28 2012 8:24 PM

"You Didn't Build That," but You Sure Did Edit It

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage from the GOP convention.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TAMPA, Fla.—The theme of tonight's night of RNC shenanigans is "We Built It." The infamous, truncated line from President Barack Obama's Roanoke, Va., speech appears at least once in every single set of remarks from the stage. At times, the reference doesn't even make sense. This was in Mia Love's well-hyped and well-received opening speech:

The American Dream is our story. It is a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. It's been told for over 200 years with small steps and giant leaps; from a woman on a bus to a man with a dream; and the bravery of the greatest generation, to the entrepreneurs of today. This is our story. This is the America we know because we built it.
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It behooves one to mention that the moon landing, desegregation, and World War II were all events in which government played roles.

There's more! At various points in the program, conventioneers are being shown videos of Real Businessmen who are Real Pissed Off about Obama's remarks. The remarks in question are played over imagery of the Businessmen working hard. But they're not complete. They're clipped and sound worse and more anti-business than anything Obama said. Here's Obama's quote, with the redacted sentences in bold.

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. 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.

The edit makes it look like "let me tell you something" was how the uppity, socialist prez told businessmen that they never achieved anything.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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