The meaning of ‘that’

If there is one thing that should’ve gotten President Obama’s speechwriter canned, it’s the quote about “you didn’t build that,” when referring to American business.

It was a sloppy piece of writing which allowed Obama’s detractors to legitimately have a field day with what they think he said, and allowed his supporters to say “you’re wrong,” based on what they think he said.

Here’s what he said.

It comes down to: “what is the meaning of that” Did it refer to businesses building roads and bridges? Or did it refer to businesspeople building their own business?

No matter. In a new video, presidential contender Mitt Romney gets around the thorny issue by simply editing the quote.

Let’s think about this: A toilet paper company can’t say that a particular toilet paper won’t leave any pieces on a bear’s tush, but a candidate for president can intentionally distort the competition. Insert your own toilet paper/presidential candidate joke here.

  • Steve W.

    Politics would be so much more boring and dry if everything needed to be explained in context though.

  • jon

    Oh come now Mr. Romney, if you’d like this race to sink to pointing out each others mis-speaks that can be turned into sound bites, then clearly you are going to have to stop putting together single sentences that can offend both Jews and Palestinians.

    I am excited to see that we live in a country so well off that there are no issues for the candidates to run on. Clearly this is a golden age when the only problem the country faces it that two wealthy men have to fight over one open position for the job of president of the united states.

  • Jamie

    “…allowed Obama’s detractors to legitimately have a field day…”

    Whoa!!! What Romney’s camp did with the quote was SO NOT legitimate! They KNEW he didn’t mean what they were doing with the edited quote. It’s what Republicans DO. All the time!!

  • Bob Collins

    //allowed Obama’s detractors to legitimately have a field day…” Whoa!!! What Romney’s camp did with the quote was SO NOT legitimate!

    Jamie, you’re misreading. It’s been more than a month since Obama’s sloppy quote and the meaning was not at all articulated properly.

    As the post said, that’s an entirely separate point from the editing of the quote. That’s what the post says.

  • BJ

    Speech writers need to make sure that each half sentence can’t be taken out of context these days.

    I wonder if “that” was in the speech or if it was just on the fly speaking in context.