By: Citizen Scribe
While this has the potential to become quite contentious, permit me to offer a couple of points.
Some of my friends and I disagree a bit on the essence of the money quote, the “if you have a business, you didn’t build that” thing. Their take is that he meant it as he said it. And my take is “yes, but…”
And here is my “yes but…”
The entire quote runs to about two paragraphs. It is clear that his meaning is that no one who succeeds can take all the credit for having succeeded, because the government made his success possible.
His semi-inarticulate blunder — the money quote — amounts to a Freudian slip of epic proportions.
Yeah, sure, he meant to say that those who built a business didn’t build the roads and bridges, but what he really means — under all the awkward wording — is that you didn’t build that. He goes on at length to make his “point” that without the government’s help, without the government’s having established all the infrastructure, you would have had nowhere to stand in order to accomplish your success. (He conveniently omits that every freeloading loser had that same infrastructure available.)
His “money quote” is the clearest, most succinct distillation of what he means here.
Yeah, he slipped up in trying to make the point, and gave his opponents a super clean sound bite, but that sound bite — even with all its “out of context” framing — is exactly what he meant.
The honest interpretation boils down to exactly that sound bite. It doesn’t matter what his intended wording was, what he actually said is what he actually means.
And this goes deeper…
He’s desperately trying to make the point that no one is responsible for his own success.
And why is that, Doktor Freud?
It’s because he is not, himself, responsible for his own success.
He’s a “made man.” And not just figuratively speaking, either. He is an entirely manufactured phenomenon. There’s no “there” there. He’s a story, not a person.
A whole cadre of people collaborated to put him where he is. People of great means and evil intent financed him. People of letters and evil intent educated him. People with power to grab and an axe to grind propelled him. And none of this is unknown to him.
He knows he’s a made man. He knows who made him.
And he can’t interpret success through any other lens.
So, while I agree that he “meant” to say that a businessman didn’t build the infrastructure, I also see clearly that he really means that no one who succeeds did it himself.
His money quote betrays him.
We need to hit this and hit it hard. It is his essence.
The money quote sound bite can be the intro, and a “summary clarification” can be made that he said two paragraphs of stuff, but the ultimate intent of his slam on business people and those who strive to succeed is embodied in that very quote.
Don’t cut him any slack on this.
Couch it in whatever terms you must, but after you take the time to “clarify” the context, take that clarification all the way out: in the end, he said exactly what he means.
And he means it because it is an entirely and excruciatingly precisely accurate self-description.
He is that person about whom he speaks.
Make him own that.