Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BethRant2 - Getting There on Your Own

Click on the link for an introduction to the concept of the BethRant.

President Obama spoke recently in Roanoke, Virginia.  I have not seen the transcript of his speech.  For purposes of this rant, I will presume Mr. Limbaugh’s quote is accurate.  Taking Mr. Limbaugh’s version, the President made the following statement:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.  The Blaze

The quote that seems to have bothered Mr. Limbaugh so is the line, “you didn’t get there on your own”.

From this simple statement – that even the wealthy did not spring preternaturally from the forehead of some unsuspecting god – Mr. Limbaugh concludes that Mr. Obama:

hates America
is a radical
is trying to “dismantle the American dream”
is engaging in Marxist classism (whatever that means - didn’t Marx ‘preach’ the elimination of class?)
is demonstrating contempt for the country (interesting - even if true, Obama’s ‘contempt’ was for the wealthy, which Limbaugh conflates with the country itself - wow - I never knew being rich was being American while being poor was being something else - who’s the classist now, Mr. Limbaugh?)
is ruthless
is a despiser of America
is a despiser of the way America was founded
is a despiser of the way America became great (I’m guessing Mr. Limbaugh means we became great because the Carnegies, and not the Debs, made us that way)

Are you kidding me?

Apparently not.

At least not according to my own FB page, wherein a series of RNC (Republican National Committee) ads show a series of photos of entrepreneurs with Mr. Obama laughing superimposed on the picture, with the tag line, “You didn’t build that”, RNC FB page,  a clear link to Mr. Limbaugh’s screed.

The fact is that Mr. Obama did not say “you didn’t build that”, even according to Rush Limbaugh.

The fact is that Mr. Obama did say, “you didn’t do it alone”.

The fact is that no sane person would argue with that.

Christian sane people presumptively say that all that they do, they do with the aid, assistance, and intervention of the divine, hence do they never act alone.

Religious and non-religious sane people universally thank their moms when they finally make it on television in a sporting event – an obvious observation that they would not even be present on the planet but for the actions of at least two other people – their parents.

Business owners routinely tell their employees, “we couldn’t have done it without you”.  I always believed them.  Was I being naive?

Here’s the thing: what on earth is so very threatening about the concept of recognizing that we are an interdependent species?  What do we lose by acknowledging that we need each other?  I really and truly wish I understood that one.

I don’t know if it would make me a better person, but I’m betting if I understood I’d be a way better pastor.

But for the love of whatever you hold dear to, would you – my friends and family and neighbors and fellow citizens – all of you – just stop this nonsense.

Disagree with the guy if you’re of a mind to.

But spare me, you, and the rest of us the ridiculousness of pseudo-analysis that would take one construct and turn it into another.  You betray a lack of persuasiveness when you stoop to saying down is up.



  1. Ranting does not become become like the one that caused you to rant in the first place.

    1. Fair enough. But how, then, do we respond? When is anger an appropriate response to the distortion of facts in our public discourse? How do we speak to that? These truly are genuine questions that I continue to struggle with almost daily.

    2. Just be careful that you are not reacting to the person speaking rather than his message.
      All I was trying to say was ....knowing your gift of thought and word... this was not one of your best methods of conveying something that is important to you... to me and perhaps other people. I would rather hear what you have to say than be turned-off by how you say it.

  2. I understand the point/theme he was attempting to drive home and that the message may have missed its mark. Never the less, to make the statement “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen (The Blaze)”, well that is not uplifting to small business owners/entrepreneurs in any context and I am very disappointed. However, I do agree that almost always it take assistance from ones family, community or government to accomplish great feats…and even Rush can’t argue that. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so upset with the statement if Mr. Obama had not been speaking in absolutes, because one equally loses credibility speaking in absolutes as they would declaring down is actually up.

    1. Bryan, I'd be with you, except for the fact that it was not Mr. Obama who said 'you didn't build that'. It was Mr. Limbaugh, the Republican National Party apparatus and The Blaze who said that in their own interpretation of what Mr. Obama meant. Of course people build things, important things, including businesses. When I read Mr. Obama's statement, I understood him to be saying simply that none of us build alone. It just seemed a big leap for me from 'you don't do it alone' to 'you didn't do it'. And I agree too that speaking in absolutes does make the up world down. :-)

  3. Actually I did not think it was a rant Annonymous July 18 2012 8:54am-

    To rant according to the World English Dictionary is to

    to utter (something) in loud, violent, or bombastic tones

    I found nothing in this blog post that would make me think this was loud or vioelent (like ALL CAPS or bold typeface) or remotely bombastic- as that is reffering to a type of speech and this is written. Of course the second definition is to make merry or frolic- which in Beth's own way that is what this blog is in my humble opinion.

    I personally thought it was thought provoking and made me really look at what I think about when hear the words wealthy- and alone-and how that might affect my feelings and attitude towards another.

    While I will publish as anonymous- because I have no other way to have a voice in this formum-- I am Melissa

    1. Melissa, thank you for the input, especially as I had not thought so much about the freight of words like 'wealth' and 'wealthy'. Virtue does not reside exclusively with the poor. But I do hear Jesus loud and clear in my own life reminding me that wealth is more a temptation and burden than it is a blessing.