You didn’t build that


Story by Chris Reinoos, News Editor

I’ve come to expect that every presidential campaign will be dirtier than the last. With the truly unbelievable amounts of money being spent on both sides, it stands to reason that things would get pretty nasty.

But it’s nice to find out that some things can still shock me.

No, I’m not talking about Clint Eastwood having a conversation with an empty chair. I’m not talking about Rudy Giuliani saying that not all facts recited in speeches will be “completely accurate.” That was a good one though.

I’m talking about the disciplined and committed Republican campaign against President Obama using a brief clip from a speech in which he seemed to say that any individual success anyone has achieved is not due to that individual’s hard work, but rather due to government aid.

I say “seemed to say” because that wasn’t what President Obama said at all. In fact, the point of that speech was one that all Americans should rally behind. This does point to the skill of the Republican spin machine, but not to their value, integrity or ability to lead this country.

What President Obama said in that speech was that whatever success people have on their own, other things helped them get there. It does not have to be something as direct as a government loan, although many politicians who have spoken out against the speech, including Wisconsin’s own Mark Neumann, did in fact accept loans for their businesses.

If somewhere along the line, a teacher was crucial to your development or you received some business advice from a friend, those things helped you. Even things like highways and other infrastructure give people more chances to be successful.

To me, this speaks to an American truth that should be above the fray. This country was founded on individual freedoms, of course, but those freedoms aren’t possible if we don’t help one another. When I first heard the speech, I was actually moved by the president’s eloquent and beautiful words.

Apparently Republican politicians were not moved quite as much. An aggressive campaign was mounted almost immediately after the speech and has continued to this day, some months later. Mitt Romney has used this out-of-context clip along with his business history to market himself as the pro-business, pro-American-way-of-life candidate. A quick look at recent polls in battleground states shows us that it’s not working very well so far.

The addition of self-styled “straight-shooter” Paul Ryan to the ticket hasn’t done anything to change the campaign’s attack on Obama. Ryan has continued with the deception, along with other lies and misinformation. This was especially evident during his speech at last week’s Republican National Convention.

As I said before, political attacks are nothing new or unexpected. More than 60 years ago, Richard Nixon accused Helen Douglas of being a communist during their senate campaign in California. Karl Rove orchestrated some vicious campaigns for
George W. Bush.

But this one feels different because President Obama’s point is not party-specific or divisive. The idea that Americans are there to help one another seems completely innocent to me. Who doesn’t agree with that idea?

I am pleased that these ridiculous and malicious attacks do not seem to be working for Romney and his campaign. At the end of the day, I just don’t think enough people in this country will find Romney appealing or qualified enough to vote for him.

After sticking with this theme for so long, Romney and Ryan will get what they deserve in November: a swift kick out the door.