Let’s be honest: If the nearest priest, minister or rabbi had uttered essentially the same words about personal merit that got President Obama in trouble recently, we’d have hardly thought twice about it.
Reminding high-achievers that they didn’t make it on their own — that they’re not necessarily any smarter or more hard-working than lots of other folks — is a time-honored means of cultivating the virtues of gratitude and humility, not to mention a sense of realism.
But Obama is not a priest, minister or rabbi. He’s a man with his hand on the tiller of economic policy, and his attitude toward entrepreneurs, innovators and business owners in general is of major importance. So when he says, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” it tends to grab public attention — despite the creative claims of his campaign to portray his remarks as merely indicating that business owners hadn’t built “roads and bridges.”
Sorry, but that’s not what he said. He said they didn’t build their businesses, while deprecating their savvy and hard work as the engines of success.