Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Loose Ends: Studies in Mendacity, Part II

As I suggested in the first part of this series, some lies are just too big to forget.  The presidential election of 2012 was remarkably dishonest, with the most egregious mendacity emanating from the right. One big problem is that because the political right substantially operates in its own information cocoon—an unfortunate form of alternate reality—all kinds of dishonesty can flourish with little impediment or check.  It isn't just that persons on the right aren't exposed to quality sources of information; the information sources they do choose are in fact active promoters of the propaganda, and thus participate in the dishonesty.

How, then, would your average Republican know he was being subjected to, say, dishonest editing of a presidential speech—so dishonest that the edited audio actually truncates part of one sentence and concatenates it with part of another, while leaving out a big and important chunk in between?  He'd very likely have no idea. Which brings us to the "you didn't build that" meme.  Watch the first part of the These Hands video, which was prepared for the Republican national convention. Pay particular attention to the sentence, "Let me tell you something: If you've got a business, you didn't build that."  While you're listening to the audio, it's helpful to read along with the text (below) showing what the President actually said.

Here's what the President actually said. The italicized parts were edited out of the Republican video.  Changes the meaning a bit, doesn't it?  From Obama's speech [my transcription]:

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, wow, 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 hard working 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, that, 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 then all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

Watch it for yourself:

Incidentally, Obama was actually riffing on a theme first (and better) articulated by Elizabeth Warren:

You can watch the entire These Hands video here.  You can watch a larger portion of the President's speech here.

Copyright (C) 2013 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved


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