'You Didn't Build That' WSJ.com 7/18/12
On the President's burst of ideological candor.
The Presidential election has a long way to go, but the line of the year so far is President Obama's on Friday: "You didn't build that." Rarely do politicians so clearly reveal their core beliefs.
Speaking in Roanoke, Virginia, Mr. Obama delivered another paean to the virtues of higher taxes on the people he believes deserve to pay even more to the government. "There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans," he observed, and many of them attribute their wealth and success to their own intelligence and hard work. But the self-made man is an illusion: "There are a lot of smart people out there," he explained. "Let me tell you something—there are a whole bunch of hard-working people out there.
"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help," he continued. "There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. 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."
This burst of ideological candor is already resonating like nothing else Mr. Obama's said in years. The Internet is awash with images of the President telling the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and other innovators they didn't build that. Kevin Costner's famous line in "Field of Dreams," as adapted for Mr. Obama: "If you build it, we'll still say you didn't really build it."
Beneath the satire is the serious point that Mr. Obama's homily is the soul of his campaign message. The President who says he wants to be transformational may be succeeding—and subordinating to government the individual enterprise and risk-taking that underlies prosperity. The question is whether this is the America that most Americans want to build.