What Sandy teaches America about government

Updated
Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama meeting with locals Brigantine, New Jersey on Wednesday.
Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama meeting with locals Brigantine, New Jersey on Wednesday.
Larry Downing/Reuters

Why does super storm Sandy have to do with one of the biggest lie of 2012?

On Friday’s special edition of The Last Word, msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell examined the most lied about statement President Obama made – the “you didn’t build that” line repeatedly mocked by Republicans– and the damage caused by Sandy as a case for building up the government.

The GOP boiled president’s statement from July down to this: “If you have a business, you didn’t build that.” The full version of the president’s comments were, in fact, much more complex:

“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.”


In other words, “if you have a business, you did not build the roads that lead to and from your business, the roads and bridges that allow you to do business,” said O’Donnell.

For naysayers, and there are many in the Republican Party, O’Donnell pointed to the government at work right now on the streets of New York City and the Jersey Shore, helping with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts around the clock. It’s not just writing a check, which many families and business will receive from the federal government. He suggested aid also comes in more many more immediate and practical forms:

Cars in New Jersey were going to run out of gas permanently, gas stations were going to run out of gas permanently, if the government didn’t take action today. Yes, the gas stations and the drivers are going to pay for that gasoline out of their own pockets when they buy it, but they weren’t going to be able to get it without government help. The government will clear the streets of wreckage and debris in front of the businesses that are now closed. The government will do the repair work that allows those businesses to have electrical power, to have passable streets, and ultimately allows those businesses to re-open and thrive once again The government will re-open the transportation systems that allow those business’ employees to come to work. Transportation systems that allow those business customers to come to their stores and restaurants.


O’Donnell argued the government is critical to get countless families and businesses re-building, and the New Jersey governor seems to agree it’s a team effort.

“After months of Republican campaigning on the lie about President Obama’s ‘you didn’t build that’ remarks,  New Jersey’s Republican Governor, Chris Christie finally speaks the truth,” said O’Donnell. Christie vowed to get money from Washington for spending on infrastructure.

What Sandy teaches America about government

Updated