Lewis Black absolutely destroys Romney’s “These Hands” ad campaign

A week or so ago, Barack Obama, in a speech delivered in Roanoke, Virginia, channelled a little bit of Elizabeth “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own” Warren, and said the following:

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help… Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

It’s a wonderful sentiment, but, unfortunately, it’s also soundbite that can be easily manipulated. And, having been rocked by Obama’s incredible ad campaign of last week, that’s exactly what the Romney team chose to do. They isolated the phrase – “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that… Somebody else made that happen” – and they constructed a campaign around it.

Sure it’s deceptive as hell, in that it makes it sound like Obama is suggesting that business owners don’t deserve credit for launching enterprises and creating jobs, but it could have been effective… if done correctly. Unfortunately, however, the Romney team didn’t do their homework, and they built their campaign around a family-owned business by the name of Gilchrist Metal, that, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, had been the recipient of, “$800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority ‘to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment’…” as well as “two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000, and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008…” And, now, as you might imagine, quite a few folks are pointing out how ridiculous it is to have an ad in which the recipient of several government programs, funded by U.S. taxpayers, talks indignantly about how he built his company without any help. The best commentary I’ve seen thus far came from Lewis Black, who tied in footage of Romney telling Olympic athletes, during the winter games in Utah, that they should keep in mind that they didn’t get to where they are without the help of others. (“You know that you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” he told them.) It’s devastatingly beautiful to watch.

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27 Comments

  1. Kerrie
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    At some point, Mark, you just need to stop watching t.v. and scouring the net, and figure out what your own feelings and opinions are. They’re the ones that are most interesting to us.

  2. mark k
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    So now the democrats are getting there talking points from a clown? So again what do Lewis Black, and Jon Stewart do for a living? Oh yeah they’re clowns. Now I now why I laugh everytime I hear Obama speak.

  3. Eel
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Yes, the truth can not be told by comics or writers. It can only be told by actors, like Ronald Reagan, and the beautiful blonde women reading teleprompters on Fox News. Great point, MK. Black’s points are completely invalidated by the fact that he’s a humorist.

  4. Brainless
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    In ‘King Lear’ , William Shakespeare wrote, “Jesters do oft prove prophets.”

    But what the fuck did he know, mark k?

  5. josh
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    On the other hand, jesters have been allowed to get away with their criticism because the humor makes them harmless. They speak the truth, but neuter it in the process.

  6. Mr. Y
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    A friend shared the Black video on Facebook and received the following response. What do you make of it?

    The notion Obama is suggesting is that successful individuals have some obligation to the government for the services it provides. I as a conservative/libertarian reject that. Those services are paid for by the producers in this country. I have no moral obligation to be grateful to my mechanic I just have to pay him. The idea that Obama is really trying to suggest is that the producers are not pulling their own weight… And they are obliged to due to their success to give some portion of their earnings to those who have some need as defined by the political class. 50% of our population is drawing some sort of government subsidy.

    We can argue whether he was taken out of context… But the overall sentiment of his statement is pretty clear. And it is sentiment that strikes at the heart of our freedom. There is no liberty without property rights. And the notion that those who have gained more property due to their success somehow are morally or legally obligated to share a greater portion of their property in the name of the greater good just takes further towards Socialism… Which if that’s your end goal, so be it, just don’t pretend that it’s not.

  7. Dan
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Y,

    Inform your FB “friend” that he is misunderstanding the sentiment in Obama’s speech. It is not about “paying back” or owing something because you have been successful, it’s about your success being a result of publicly funded infrastructure, research, education, grants, etc. Without the publicly funded portions of America’s economy, he or other small business owners wouldnt have a business to run.

  8. Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    As far as I can tell, the only way to get rich is to accumulate the money issued by some federal government. Most people don’t recognize the stuff you print yourself.

  9. Mr. Y
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t write that, Dan. A friend’s friend did. Like you, I think he’s missing the point. I shared it here because I thought that people might be interested to see the paranoid libertarian perspective.

  10. Dan
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if it came off as I was calling you the “friend.” I meant that (in my adventures) most of the people posting bullshit on facebook arent really my “friends” just someone I knew at one point in time.

  11. mark k
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    “Without the publicly funded portions of America’s economy, he or other small business owners wouldnt have a business to run.” The country did pretty good before we had a gov’t, how’d that happen? People made livings, policed themselves, not saying it was perfect, but people did alright.

  12. Brainless
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Uh…. mark k, do you not ever study any history? I mean, ANY? Even a little?

    And this is just flat-out retarded: “The country did pretty good before we had a gov’t.” I don’t even know where to start with a statement like that. How does one parse the impossible?

  13. John Galt
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    People may have only lived to be 30, but 30 years of “free livin'” is worth 100 in the post-government world of antibiotics, hospitals, and communistic highways. Give me shit-filled streets any day. Now, that’s the smell of freedom!

  14. Dan
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    John Galt

    Your posts are as useful as racist rant at a KKK rally. Or a communist rant in 1982the USSR. Why do you bother with this nonsense?

  15. Dan
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Mark k

    What? Puritan New England? Witch hunts and public hangings? Whore houses and gun fights? That’s what you want to get back to?

  16. Tommy
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Two things
    … not saying it was perfect, but people did alright… Yep, those slaves were livin’ the life!

    Please understand the posts of John Galt at a deeper level. John Galt – the name should give it away.

  17. Brainless
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Wait, I think Dan’s onto something. He had me at “whore”, but I like gunfights, too.

  18. Dan
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Tommy,

    I know full well who the character John Galt is. I just dont understand why this person uses this handle to continually troll here with ridiculous nonsense. We get it. Ayn Rand was full of shit.

  19. Tommy
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    On your last point, I wholeheartedly agree. I actually enjoy his (her?) humor. As far as trolling with ridiculous nonsense, I guess we all could be accused of that from time to time.

    Have a pleasant weekend!

  20. Mark K
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    “What? Puritan New England? Witch hunts and public hangings? Whore houses and gun fights? That’s what you want to get back to?”
    Come on Dan, what part don’t I want to go back to. The gov’t should keep us safe, sanitary (Take the trash out). The fact that I want to have a 20 once soda, or ride my bike without a helmet should be left up to me. I’d rather see someone hung as a wich, then be told 20 onces of soda is too much. And to say that without gov’t you’d only live 30 years, total BS. You might be surprised to know penicillin and most of medicine didn’t come from the gov’t. In fact they stood in the way as normal. Schools would have to steal bodies for research. Sure life wasn’t perfect, but you didn’t go crying to the gov’t everytime something didn’t go your way, you man’d up and delt with it, and sometimes that killed you.

  21. Thom Elliott
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Gawd! What a twisted and nearly incomprehensable view of the world! Mark k, read a book! Take a class! I mean I knew you were a repugnant white trash asshole without morality, but that you’d prefer to see young women hanging from trees for nothing over giveing up mindlessly drinking solvents by the gallon (which costs our society hundreds of billions of dollars a year/countless preventable deaths from diabetes) is a statement so morally bankrupt, contextless, and vicious as to be unconscionable. Great to see the unvarnished views of the perverse & gutless lunatics which people the teaparty, it can only be sustained by vapid chowderheaded abusive fathers for so long.

  22. Posted July 28, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark K — Unfortunately, your decisions don’t only affect yourself. If you get a head injury, you might not be able to man up and deal with it yourself, but may need help from others. I have friends who are emergency room doctors; they support mandatory helmets.

    Here in NYC, our funny mayor actually hasn’t proposed banning huge sodas, only banning them at theaters and restaurants, to discourage drinking a quart of the stuff at a single sitting. I believe the only reason he’s doing this is because we have a diabetes epidemic. I don’t see what the big deal is. You can’t buy a bottle of gin at the movies either, but nobody complains about that.

  23. Elviscostello
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Mark K, Bullshit! Let’s call a lie a lie. A quick and dirty search shows colleges, hospitals, and the US Department of Agriculture all taking part in the development of penicillin.

  24. Meta
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    The Obama campaign is still having fun with this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z-z-U57BaSc

  25. Meta
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    The Romney ads are getting worse.

    Paul Waldman has done a lot of academic research on political ads. In fact, he says, he has personally watched “every single presidential general election campaign ad ever aired since the first ones in 1952.” So what does he think of Mitt Romney’s new ad that claims President Obama has a plan for “dropping work requirements” for welfare? “Under Obama’s plan,” says the narrator, “you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”

    I’ve seen ads that were more inflammatory than this one, and ads that were in various ways more reprehensible than this one (not many, but some). But I cannot recall a single presidential campaign ad in the history of American politics that lied more blatantly than this one.

    …Usually candidates deceive voters by taking something their opponent says out of context, or giving a tendentious reading to facts, or distorting the effects of policies. But in this case, Romney and his people looked at a policy of the Obama administration to allow states to pursue alternative means of placing welfare recipients in jobs, and said, “Well, how about if we just say that they’re eliminating all work requirements and just sending people checks?” I have no idea if someone in the room said, “We could say that, but it’s not even remotely true,” and then someone else said, “Who gives a crap?”, or if nobody ever suggested in the first place that this might be problematic. But either way, they decided that they don’t even have to pretend to be telling the truth anymore.

    This is what’s so striking about Romney’s campaign. As Paul says, it’s common to twist and distort and cherry pick. But Romney has flatly claimed that Obama said something that, in fact, a John McCain aide said. He’s snipped out sentences from an Obama speech and spliced the two halves back together so nobody could tell what he did. Then he did it again to another Obama speech. And he unequivocally said that Obama plans to drop work requirements for welfare even though he’s done nothing of the sort.

    Read the rest of the article:
    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/08/mitt-romney-sure-does-lie-lot-doesnt-he

  26. ypsijav
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Dan, I think that your personal attacks on Thom Elliott probably qualify as libel, but I draw the line at you calling the “John Galt” a troll. These are some of my favorite comments, and I certainly hope your ignorant attack will not result in a decrease in them.

  27. Meta
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    From Metafilter:

    Small business owner and candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware Sher Valenzuela is slated to speak at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday as part of a platform meant to suggest business owners build businesses on their own with no assistance from government. The problem is that Valenzuela received millions of dollars in taxpayer funds as business loans from the US government, along with other government assistance. One Reddit user noticed the url for the full name of Valenzuela’s First State Manufacturing business was unregistered, and remedied that with full details.

    http://www.metafilter.com/119379/Sher-Valenzuela-First-State-Manufacturing-received-millions-in-government-business-loans

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  1. […] “We Built It” meme began in earnest a few weeks ago, when the Romney campaign released a misleading ad entitled “These Hands”, in which President Obama is heard telling the entrepreneurs of America that they didn’t, […]

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