The false equivalency of the Obama campaign

Otto Sorenson
In the August 28 edition of The Hill, Juan Williams asserts that claims by the President's campaign  that Mitt Romney is a felon who has not paid taxes in years and who caused the death of a steelworker's wife are morally equivalent to signs at the Republican Convention which display the phrase "We Built It."  His claim is absurd on its face, and further analysis demonstrates its weaknesses.

The signs refer to the President's now famous statement in Roanoke:  "If you were successful, someone along the line gave you some help .   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."

Juan would have us believe that the objective pronoun "that" in the penultimate sentence of the President's statement refers not to the object of that same sentence, i.e. "business," but instead to the "roads and bridges" described in the preceding sentence or the even more remotely referenced "great teacher."  Speaking of great teachers, the sainted Miss Roberts, who taught grammar with a vengeance in my seventh grade homeroom class in 1962, would not be amused by Juan's theory.

Clearly the President meant what he said.  There is no individual achievement.  There is only collective achievement; and if wealth has accumulated unevenly, justice therefore requires that it be redistributed.  I might add that, even if Juan's strained interpretation of the President's statement is correct, the eventual conclusion is the same:  because the business owner attended a public school and did not himself build roads and bridges, wealth that accrues to his business should be redistributed.

Juan's position also demonstrates the false moral equivalency on which progressives so often rely.  Republicans make a claim that is probably true but can possibly be disputed, to wit that Obama by his own words has shown he believes that business owners are not responsible for their success.  Therefore, those Republicans are stooping to the same level as Democrats who falsely claim that Mitt Romney is a tax-dodging felon responsible for the death of an innocent person.  The same thought process can be seen when progressives defend the Religion of Peace after some particularly heinous act committed in the name of Islam - for example the beheading by the Taliban of 17 people who dared to sing and dance in mixed company - by pointing out the non-fatal oddities of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Juan Williams is wrong.  To date, there is no moral equivalency between the campaigns.  Romney and Ryan have talked about issues.  The President has engaged in ad hominem attacks in an attempt to define Mitt Romney in the minds of the American people before Mr. Romney can effectively respond.


In the August 28 edition of The Hill, Juan Williams asserts that claims by the President's campaign  that Mitt Romney is a felon who has not paid taxes in years and who caused the death of a steelworker's wife are morally equivalent to signs at the Republican Convention which display the phrase "We Built It."  His claim is absurd on its face, and further analysis demonstrates its weaknesses.

The signs refer to the President's now famous statement in Roanoke:  "If you were successful, someone along the line gave you some help .   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."

Juan would have us believe that the objective pronoun "that" in the penultimate sentence of the President's statement refers not to the object of that same sentence, i.e. "business," but instead to the "roads and bridges" described in the preceding sentence or the even more remotely referenced "great teacher."  Speaking of great teachers, the sainted Miss Roberts, who taught grammar with a vengeance in my seventh grade homeroom class in 1962, would not be amused by Juan's theory.

Clearly the President meant what he said.  There is no individual achievement.  There is only collective achievement; and if wealth has accumulated unevenly, justice therefore requires that it be redistributed.  I might add that, even if Juan's strained interpretation of the President's statement is correct, the eventual conclusion is the same:  because the business owner attended a public school and did not himself build roads and bridges, wealth that accrues to his business should be redistributed.

Juan's position also demonstrates the false moral equivalency on which progressives so often rely.  Republicans make a claim that is probably true but can possibly be disputed, to wit that Obama by his own words has shown he believes that business owners are not responsible for their success.  Therefore, those Republicans are stooping to the same level as Democrats who falsely claim that Mitt Romney is a tax-dodging felon responsible for the death of an innocent person.  The same thought process can be seen when progressives defend the Religion of Peace after some particularly heinous act committed in the name of Islam - for example the beheading by the Taliban of 17 people who dared to sing and dance in mixed company - by pointing out the non-fatal oddities of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Juan Williams is wrong.  To date, there is no moral equivalency between the campaigns.  Romney and Ryan have talked about issues.  The President has engaged in ad hominem attacks in an attempt to define Mitt Romney in the minds of the American people before Mr. Romney can effectively respond.