Friday, July 20, 2012

"You Didn't Build it" Looks Like Very Bad Copy Editing

I don't care who built this gif, it's funny every time I see it.
We're not even to the conventions and we've already had a seemingly disproportionate amount of needlessly alienating comments from both candidates. We've had Mitt's classic "Corporations are people too," his wife's recent "You people" comment, and of course the latest gaffe, Barack's "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." The interesting difference to me is that while the slip ups on the Romney side have come from extemporaneous comments Barack's statement came from a prepared speech.

I can't comprehend any speech writer or copy editor worth their salt thinking that that line should be in a presidential speech. No matter how much Obama intellectually understands the importance of small business in the American economy this statement shows that he doesn't truly "get" small business or entrepreneurship. Saying an entrepreneur didn't build his or her business is akin to telling a pastor that God had nothing to do with answered prayer. It's like wearing garnet and gold into the Swap. It's serious tone deafness.

Especially puzzling is why such an insulting line would pop out of a generally benign speech. The very next paragraph starts with a sentence that would have been a perfect replacement for the offending sentence "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

Instead of denying entrepreneurs credit for their hard work this sentence acknowledges their contributions while still giving a tip of the hat to the ideas of infrastructure improvement and the successes of government that Obama so badly wants to highlight. It boggles my mind that in the space of 5 sentences the speech writer had the president start by denying the impact of business owners in a sloppily thought out sentence only to then credit their individual initiative 3 sentences later.

Here's the offending paragraph with a quick little cut and paste, as I would have edited had somebody passed it along to me before Barack got to the podium. I know you're reading this Barry, give me a call if you want my help;

"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. The point is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

1 comment:

Mom said...

Good speech Mr Samons!