The New Yorker's Kelefa Sanneh joined us this morning to discuss his latest piece "Sloganeering" regarding President Obama's recent "You didn't build that" comments.
Within days, the Romney campaign had set about turning “you didn’t build that” into a four-word indictment of Obama’s economic policy. In Irwin, Pennsylvania, Romney extolled the great men behind America’s greatest companies—Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Papa John—and took vigorous exception to the idea that business owners aren’t the authors of their own success. “It’s insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong,” he said. Perhaps Romney was misinterpreting Obama—some liberals argued, in vain, that the crucial “that” referred not to the business itself but to the “unbelievable American system.” Still, “you didn’t build that” resonated, especially among voters who were convinced that Obama is hostile to free enterprise. The Romney campaign shop now sells “We Built America” buttons, “Built by Us” posters, and T-shirts that say, “Government Didn’t Build My Business, I Did.” The passive-aggressive message has been superseded by an aggressive-aggressive one.