Even discounting the audience chanting the phrase “we built it” has become the mantra of the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida. The phrase is adapted from a quote made by president Obama in July.
When quoted by conservative sources the quote is relayed as: “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.” This has been used repeatedly and vitriolically to demonstrate that the president has no respect for small business owners. However the complete quote, in context, is:
“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. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
More importantly the president has continuously clarified that the “built that” portion of the speech was referring to “roads and bridges”, or infrastructure. Concerning the ads (which often edit the speech to highlight the statement further) leveraging the statement “They’re flat-out wrong. Of course Americans build their own businesses.”
The usual political hypocrisy of ignoring an opponent’s explanation while enjoying a long history of lambasting them for doing the same is here in spades. However making such a clearly forced and deceptive interpretation the centerpiece of the entire convention is a unprecendented case of Mass Douchebaggery. In addition we’d like to bestow all the leaders of the Republican convention involved in this decision a shiny new asshat.