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The Myth of Obama’s Rhetorical Brilliance
Commentary Magazine ^ | July 20, 2012 | Alana Goodman

Posted on 07/21/2012 3:29:12 PM PDT by Kaslin

Checking for context before slamming someone for a single line in a speech is always a noble endeavor. But there’s a point when the “benefit of the doubt” becomes ridiculous. A prime example is the liberal argument that President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment wasn’t directed at businesses:

When he made the comment in Roanoke, Va. Friday, Obama was arguing that businesses needed infrastructure investment to succeed.

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help,” Obama said. “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 antecedent to “that” is not the business, but “roads and bridges,” as well as the “American system” as a whole.

To believe that Obama was talking about businesses, you only have to watch his speech in context and take it at its literal meaning. To believe Obama was talking about something else, you have to divine certain messages from his ambiguous body language, assume he mixed up his demonstrative pronouns, and concede that the context was structured oddly. Even then, it isn’t clear what exactly he’s referring to.

How could this be, considering he’s supposed to be one of the world’s most celebrated orators? The answer is, no teleprompter:

Judging from video and photos of the event, Obama wasn’t using his teleprompter. According to the video footage posted below, Obama pulled a folded sheet of paper out of his front shirt pocket at the beginning of his speech, and slowly unfolded it. Throughout the speech, Obama glances down at his sheet of paper, rather than the usual mechanical side-to-side head turns from screen to screen.

Wide-angle photos of the event show no sign of the familiar twin-screens that typically follow Obama everywhere. Instead, a white sheet of paper is seen at the podium.

No wonder the speech was such a train wreck, and I’m not just talking about the most controversial line. Here’s a key excerpt:

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 own a business — that, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Iternet 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. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Stilted, flat, unimaginative and full of banal observations. “Imagine if everybody had their own fire service,” he said at one point. “That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.” Really? It actually sounds like firefighting would be pretty easy if America had 300 million fire services. Not that this is physically possible, or that anybody has ever proposed such a thing. “Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet,” he added. The idea that the government created the Internet to help companies make money is so obviously inaccurate that it’s not even worth discussing. And what does any of this have to do with raising federal income taxes?

For the past four years, liberals have tried to sell us on the idea that Obama is one of the greatest speakers of all time. Now they’re complaining that conservatives are taking his words literally and not cutting him enough slack. Which one is it?


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 57states; kenyanbornmuzzie; mediawingofthednc; mymuslimfaith; partisanmediashills; roanoke; webuiltthat; youdidntbuildthat

1 posted on 07/21/2012 3:29:20 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

2 posted on 07/21/2012 3:31:32 PM PDT by rlmorel ("The safest road to Hell is the gradual one." Screwtape (C.S. Lewis))
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To: Kaslin

Fire service? Who uses that phrasing? A foreigner, that’s who. Fire department.


3 posted on 07/21/2012 3:36:28 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Steyn: "One can argue about whose fault it is, but not ... whose responsibility it is: it's his")
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To: Kaslin
Ask a Liberal to recite some brilliant lines they remember from past Obama speeches. I bet they can't. He's not JFK. Although he has a reputation as a brilliant speaker, no one actually remembers anything brilliant that he has said.

Now, ask a Conservative to recite some stupid things that they remember Obama saying, and you'd better pull up a chair -- there is a lot to talk about.

4 posted on 07/21/2012 3:37:12 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Roger Taney? Not a bad Chief Justice. John Roberts? A really awful Chief Justice.)
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To: Kaslin


5 posted on 07/21/2012 3:42:21 PM PDT by Iron Munro ("Jiggle the Handle for Barry!")
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To: NonValueAdded
Fire service? Who uses that phrasing? A foreigner, that’s who. Fire department.

While I understand your point - it's wrong, lots of people use that term who are not foreigners. I live in an area that has only volunteer fire departments and we do make references to fire service.

6 posted on 07/21/2012 3:42:48 PM PDT by Gabz (Democrats for Voldemort.)
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To: Kaslin
I have never thought that Obama is any kind of orator, let alone a brilliant one. Understand, I loathe "The Reverend" Je$$ie Jack$on and everything he stands for, but the man can make a speech.

With Obama, it's "blah blah blah BLAH, BLAH BLAH blah. blah blah BLAH, BLAH blah." His cadences make me cringe.

7 posted on 07/21/2012 3:52:13 PM PDT by sima_yi ( Reporting live from the far North)
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To: Kaslin
The key to the passage is the verb: 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.

This is how he thinks. He believes in collective ownership. He believes that it PERMITS success, instead of aiding it.

8 posted on 07/21/2012 3:54:15 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party Switcheroo: Economic crisis! Zero's eligibility Trumped!! Hillary 2012!!!)
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To: NonValueAdded

Maybe it translates from Indonesian to fire service?


9 posted on 07/21/2012 4:00:10 PM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

Can any man be rhetorically brilliant or eloquent if he makes you skin crawl when he talks?


10 posted on 07/21/2012 4:00:57 PM PDT by stevem
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To: Kaslin
Obama is not only an idiot, he is a slow learner as well.

Video: Obama Salutes The Navy Corpse-Men (Oct 26, 2009)

Video: Obama Salutes The Navy Corpse-Men (Feb 4, 2010)


11 posted on 07/21/2012 4:03:40 PM PDT by Iron Munro ("Jiggle the Handle for Barry!")
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To: Kaslin

12 posted on 07/21/2012 4:38:05 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Carry_Okie

Obama was arguing that businesses needed infrastructure investment to succeed.”

He was also clearly implying the The People collectively have a stake in all businesses that they “allowed” to thrive.


13 posted on 07/21/2012 4:40:08 PM PDT by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Dr. Pritchett
He was also clearly implying the The People collectively have a stake in all businesses that they “allowed” to thrive.

As to rescinding that allowance without committing suicide, I'm afraid we will have allowed them to try.

14 posted on 07/21/2012 4:47:32 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (The Slave Party Switcheroo: Economic crisis! Zero's eligibility Trumped!! Hillary 2012!!!)
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To: Carry_Okie

I wonder if BO knows any other terms for when the people (or the gov’t) own the means of production. Hmmm. I bet a smart guy like that could come up with a couple.


15 posted on 07/21/2012 4:58:16 PM PDT by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Kaslin
And what does any of this have to do with raising federal income taxes?

Liberals have often made speeches referring to wealthy people as "winners of life's lottery." The less credit given to individuals who succeed by dint of hard work, creativity, intelligence, and risk-taking, the easier it is to justify confiscating their wealth, since "they didn't really earn it."

Many of us have been around a friend who suddenly got a good deal of money that he actually didn't earn. Perhaps that 50-1 longshot came in, or maybe he had a long-lost relative who left him a bunch of dough. Often, the guy will say, "Hey--I caught a real break today--dinner's on me." If he doesn't offer, his friends might tease and cajole him into sharing a small portion of his serendipity.

That's a different story from a guy who breaks his butt doing heavy labor and gets his paycheck. His buddies are a lot less likely to expect him to share what he earned, as opposed to money he came by without the sweat of his brow.

Hence--the Obama speech. You didn't earn it, the government had a big part in your success--therefore, we can raise your taxes and take a lot of it away.

16 posted on 07/21/2012 5:04:42 PM PDT by TruthShallSetYouFree (I didn't write this by myself. Obama helped me. Everyone helped me.)
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To: NonValueAdded

http://fireserviceinc.com/ ~ since 1991 there’s a company in St. John Indiana been using the name. In 2009 CNNMoney ranked it the 48th best place among the top 100 to live in America.


17 posted on 07/21/2012 5:09:02 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: stevem
“Can any man be rhetorically brilliant or eloquent if he makes you skin crawl when he talks?”

____

Its worse than that, Just seeing the Kenyon Punk and/or his sister Lousy and Bro Reid makes MY skin crawl.

18 posted on 07/21/2012 5:10:40 PM PDT by mongo141 (Revolution ver. 2.0, just a matter of when, not a matter of if!)
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To: Dr. Pritchett
I wonder if BO knows any other terms for when the people (or the gov’t) own the means of production.

How about "collective" or "commune?" Do you think he knows those words? We already know he knows "redistribution."

19 posted on 07/21/2012 5:11:28 PM PDT by Rocky (Obama is pure evil)
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To: Kaslin

I always hated listening to George Bush speak. It was painful listening to him suffer through his speeches. With Obama, it’s painful listening to the pride and arrogance, not to mention his idiotic way of stressing the last of each sentence. It’s like the twinkie fag thinks inflection equals importance. Then again, he could be doing it to alert the teleprompter that it is time to move to the next sentence. Maybe he should do like Kerry, or maybe it was Gore, who had an earpiece telling him what to say.


20 posted on 07/21/2012 5:13:40 PM PDT by pallis
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To: Carry_Okie
Whatever he thinks does sound counseled by the fact that in most of the world the prevailing systems PREVENT success.

There's no denying that, but why he would want to impose such a system on us is the question. It's like he picked up the wrong lessons from somebody.

I hope everybody nows that once this guy is booted out of government he's still going to be around for the far Leftwingtards to use.

21 posted on 07/21/2012 5:17:25 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: pallis

President Bush’s address to the joint session of Congress on 9/20/01 is one of the best political speeches I have ever heard, by anyone.


22 posted on 07/21/2012 5:38:29 PM PDT by karnage
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To: Carry_Okie
There was a speech shortly before the Roanoke speech in which Obama said something like "spend money on tax breaks for the rich"--which can only mean that he thinks of all the money as belonging to the government in the first place, and the government decides how much of it we can have.
23 posted on 07/21/2012 6:32:22 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Kaslin
True, he's a vapid, bland orator. I have never understood his reputation for eloquence. But give the devil his due: he's an expert in the art of demagoguery and provocation. In these areas he is very skillful. The scary thing is, the increasingly corrupt American people tolerate his provocations. At times they seem too dumb to know they're being insulted.

Also, Obama has a talent for mimicking conservative phraseology when it serves his purpose. His shell game with words seems to lull voters to sleep. On occasion, however, his mask slips, and his revolutionary venom pours out.

This last week's provocations do seem to have evoked some real anger--hell, even Romney sounded pissed off! Let's hope the light is beginning to shine in the mushy moderates' heads.

24 posted on 07/21/2012 7:33:41 PM PDT by ishmac (Lady Thatcher:"There are no permanent defeats in politics because there are no permanent victories.)
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To: Kaslin
Long before there was an Internet there was GE's MarkNet. The DARPA guys just applied the concept to the government’s computers.
So did the gov invent steel (for bridges), AC electricity or even the printing press? No they didn't they just took everyone’s money and employed their buddies to build the infrastructure that businesses and individuals use and still pay for.
25 posted on 07/21/2012 8:11:03 PM PDT by Boiler Plate ("Why be difficult, when with just a little more work, you can be impossible" Mom)
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To: Kaslin

Actually, Obama was referring to “bridges,” not “businesses.”

But he’s the one who garbled the sentence, and since when have the Marxists ever failed to seize on the worst possible interpretation of any conservative’s ambiguous statement?

To all those who are blasting Obama for saying “...if you have a business, you didn’t build that...”—Keep it up!


26 posted on 07/21/2012 8:56:41 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan (In Edward Kennedy's America, federal funding of brothels is a right, not a privilege.)
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To: Kaslin

Why has no prominent GOP person highlighted the fact that all of Obama’s references in this screed, save the internet stupidity, involve the workings of state and local govt. Since the days of Barry Goldwater the conservative movement in America has stoutly advanced the cause of local govt and federalism. It would be simple to coopt Obama’s ideas that govt provides services essential for society.But that it’s local govt that creates the conditions for business success.The GOP can do this and still forcefully attack the Leviathan we call the federal govt. In fact it makes the attack more viable as it would remove the meme that the right is anti govt.


27 posted on 07/21/2012 9:10:08 PM PDT by xkaydet65
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To: Kaslin
He needs a new speech therapist.


28 posted on 07/22/2012 1:35:29 AM PDT by clearcarbon
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To: Kaslin

Obama speaks from personal experience. He, himself, has NEVER earned anything or achieved anything on his own. He spent his lifetime bleeding the “token” system. For that reason, alone, he has had no personal experience in actually earning something himself. He actually believes what he is saying because this is the world he lives in. This is also why he says foolish things about “special olympics” etc. While the rest of us have had political correctness ingrained in us, he - as a minority - has been exempt from having to use tact while speaking. While many minority men and women have earned what they have through hard work, Obama is simply not one of them.


29 posted on 07/22/2012 5:56:45 AM PDT by onevoter
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To: karnage

President Bush’s voice was pleasant to listen too.


30 posted on 07/22/2012 6:02:51 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

BTTT!!!


31 posted on 07/23/2012 1:34:16 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Kaslin

IMO, Obama was referring to the roads and bridges, à la Elizabeth Warren’s “You brought your goods to market on roads other people built and paid for”. He cribbed it from her. Both are guilty of silly reductionist thinking. As one commenter said, “Well, DUH! We all stand on the shoulders of preceding generations. That’s not news to anyone.”


32 posted on 07/24/2012 2:31:54 PM PDT by avenir (I'm pessimistic about man, but I'm optimistic about GOD!)
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To: avenir

Early on people were missing the cribbing from Lizzie Warren. Now I think people have got that point down.

The other point is listen to the crowd noise during the speech. The crowd is clearly egging him on with the usual “Uh-huhs” and “you tell its” and that sort of thing. I think he made the amateur mistake of getting caught up in the (negative) energy of the crowd. I don’t think this point has been made, maybe at all.


33 posted on 07/24/2012 2:44:02 PM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten

You can also hear him dropping his “g”s at the ends of words obviously playing to the crowd and trying to sound more authentic. What a putz.


34 posted on 07/24/2012 2:46:58 PM PDT by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: Kaslin

He should speak offTELEPOTUS more often.


35 posted on 07/24/2012 2:54:21 PM PDT by The_Media_never_lie (The First Bystander must be removed!)
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