Obama Tries to Walk Back 'You Didn't Build That'–and Fails

Obama Tries to Walk Back 'You Didn't Build That'–and Fails

The Obama campaign is deeply worried about the lasting effect of their candidate’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe. Since then, his speechwriters have made sure that the president constantly stresses the limits of government. The latest version of this clumsy walkback appeared yesterday in Colorado, where he praised “individual initiative.” However, even in celebrating individuals, Obama reveals his true belief in the supremacy of the state.

Here is what he told an audience in Colorado Springs: 

Because my vision is one in which — whether we’re talking about housing or education or rebuilding America — the idea is you’ve got to show individual initiative. Government can’t solve all your problems. Government can’t help folks who won’t help themselves. But there are things we can do to make sure that everybody has got a chance, everybody has got opportunity.

In Obama’s mind, government is always a benevolent force. The only defect Obama sees in government is that it is not efficient enough. As he told the audience yesterday: 

And, by the way, this doesn’t mean that we don’t still have more work to do to make government more efficient. I’m not somebody who believes government can solve every problem. Government has to do its part by cutting out spending that we don’t need. We’ve already cut a trillion dollars — a trillion — that’s with a “T” — out of our budget.

The claim that Obama has cut spending is laughably false. His “cuts” are outweighed by his staggering increases in spending, sinking the United States to new depths of deficit and debt. The only spending he shows consistent interest in cutting is in defense–the primary need of any society, the fundamental problem that government exists to solve.

From Obama’s remarks, it is clear that he believes the boundary that defines the limits of government is not individual liberty, but individual responsibility. If government fails to solve a problem, that is not because it is in government’s nature to fail, but because the people did not do their part to make government succeed. That is what Michelle Obama meant when she said–proudly–in 2008 that her husband “will require you to work.”

The president likes to claim that Republicans like Mitt Romney believe in a society in which freedom means “you’re on your own.” But the reality is opposite. Obama believes that all success–even individual success–belongs to government, while failure–even government failure–belongs to the individual alone. 

To Obama, “initiative” must always serve a higher, social obligation. The only individual in whom he truly believes is himself.