“If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” So said the nihilistic president this week in a speech denouncing capitalism. Contrary to what Barack Obama says, an enterprise is not something “you’ve got”. It is something you’ve made and it is something you own. Though Obama’s comments are getting attention, the problem is not just with what Obama said, though what he said is bad enough. It’s in the way he said it. America’s anti-capitalist president speaks with a flip, curt, clipped, cynical style that underscores his nihilism: as I wrote in my “Obama, the Nothing Man” post, he stands for nothing. In a short sentence, he snidely dismissed the best efforts of millions of Americans who over years and decades – in countless investments, pitches, sketches, meetings and mistakes and restarts – work to achieve an enterprise of their own.
At least Mitt Romney, a private equity businessman who unlike Obama has a career of making money in a private business, called out Obama’s assault and defended the businessman: “Barack Obama’s attempt to denigrate and diminish the achievement of the individual diminishes us all.” Romney, who created ObamaCare’s predecessor and is not a principled advocate for capitalism, also said: “The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America, and it’s wrong.” Even better, according to a newspaper Web site report, Romney asked everyone in the audience who started or ran a business to stand up, which many in the room did.
May all the U.S. artists, contractors, CEOs, business owners and producers stand – and speak – up against Obama’s assault on capitalism this November. If Romney continues to communicate even a general defense of individual rights, the president’s attack on people who create, produce and make money may backfire on Obama’s own campaign strategy to make Mitt Romney seem clueless about real middle class people and their values. The truth is that, whatever Romney’s flaws, it is Obama who is pompously out of touch like a malevolent emperor who has contempt for his subjects. May every entrepreneur of every type rise to reject the Obama administration this fall and articulate the case for the right to pursue his own happiness, including the right to make money.