Many moons ago, I spent a couple of years in a fiction-writing program at a local university. I never finished the novel I aspired to write, but I did learn some valuable lessons. The most important: “It doesn’t matter what you meant. What matters is what you conveyed.” In the context of class, that meant when we were sharing our work and listening to feedback, we couldn’t butt in and say that we’d meant something else. We needed to take ourselves out of our own head and try to understand what our readers had heard.
In the case of Obama’s Roanoke speech, conservatives everywhere heard, ”You don’t get credit for your hard work.” I agree with the Washington Post for giving the Romney campaign four Pinocchios for repeating the truncated quote ad nauseum. I wish Romney’s team would use the full version. Because even in its full glory, it would inspire largely the same reaction. The sentiment resonates with small-business owners—and it’s small-business owners who have been most vocal in their response to Obama’s comments, from the co-owner of an Iowa deli who good-naturedly catered an Obama campaign stop in a T-shirt saying, “Government didn’t build my business” to the hardware store owner who was a bit less gracious.
Conservatives suspect that President Obama sees government as the solution to everything. Only someone who thinks government is the answer would describe a stimulus program that cost at least $185,000 per job as successful. I can’t think of a starker difference between the liberal and conservative worldviews than the Life of Julia slide show. Liberals look at that video and see a woman aided by a social safety net. Conservatives look at it and are creeped out by the fact that liberals think the very-capable-seeming Julia can’t do anything without government help.
That same sentiment comes through in the “You Didn’t Build That” speech. Obama’s words contain an undertone that business owners are selfish, that they are ungrateful toward those teachers who helped them along the way. And that is where Obama’s misunderstanding of small business, real or perceived, shines through.
Quite apart from whatever taxes they pay, small-business owners are part of the very fabric of their communities. Someone has to run the pharmacy. Someone has to run the gas stations. Local businesses don’t send their profits back to Bentonville, Ark.; Minneapolis, Minn.; or Cupertino, Calif., but rather put them back into the community. The restaurant owner gets his produce and meat from local stores, the mechanic hires a local painter to spruce up his shop. They are the ones who not only give money to the athletic booster club and the PTA, but show up to help out at fundraisers. And if that teacher who helped them with their math homework stops by, the owner gives her a free oil change or an extra slice of pie for dessert.
It's a good read.....