Isn't it obvious? Of course he didn't mean what he said four times while off script a few weekends ago! What the president genuinely meant is written right in the teleprompter, after his messaging team spent more than a week figuring out how to "clarify" his comments:
He's slipping, guys. Historically, Team Obama has been much faster at turning the truth on its head. Time's Mark Halperin says The One finds himself on the defensive:
A campaign never wants to let the opposition dictate what it advertises on. I don’t know if this purely defensive move is based on the vaunted Chicago research department picking up trouble in its focus groups and/or polling, or just intuition that anything that threatens to further reinforce the meme that Obama doesn’t understand or appreciate how the private sector really works must be countered as soon and as much as possible. But I do know that it is unusual for an incumbent president ahead in the polls to let his rival drive his ad content. This is as surprising as it is significant.
Bingo. Obama's trying to retroactively reinvent his original remarks into some grand defense of business owners' blood, sweat and tears, coupled with a rallying cry for all of us to "stand behind" them. That's absolutely not what he said in Virginia, in content nor tone. His point was that individual accomplishment isn't possible without the collective, so those who achieve success owe the rest of us for our trouble. Perhaps the best way to cut through the "out of context" push-back is for Republicans to run an ad with nothing but the full clip. It's conveniently 56 seconds long, which allows just enough time to add a graphic reading "Out of context?" at the beginning, before tacking on "I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message" at the end. Watch Obama's revisionist ad again, then watch the in-context remarks and see if you can spot the fundamental disconnect:
Not exactly a call to arms to "stand behind" successful business owners, is it? Finally, I want to circle back to Halperin's point about polls. Why is Obama cutting flop-sweat ads in July? Hasn't he heard he's comfortably ahead? According to the latest NBC/WSJ poll, Obama's leading by six nationally and eight in battleground states. Take a vacation, man. I suppose it's possible that his campaign takes these results exactly as seriously as I do -- which is to say, not at all. Why? The survey's partisan sample is D+12, and D+11 with leaners. There's no point in getting into the nitty gritty; it's just laughable on its face. 2008's wave election turned out a D+7 electorate; 2010 was dead even. D+12? C'mon, you're embarrassing yourselves. As a point of reference, Gallup, Rasmussen, NYT/CBS, McClatchy and NPR have the race essentially even. I'll leave you with American Crossroads' latest:
Relax, you whiners. Obama just wants everyone to "stand behind" you with investments, or something. Oh, and has he mentioned how he gets a kick out of the delusion that your own hard work and talent bred your success recently? He's often "struck by" ingrates who believe that nonsense.
UPDATE - Democrats say they're "going nuclear" on Romney over "you didn't build that" this week, arguing that he's lying and that his governorship was disastrous for business owners. How disastrous was it? He left office with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and had moved Massachusetts from 50th in job creation to 28th. By law, he presided over four balanced budgets. Oh, the horror.
UPDATE II - A new web ad from the RNC does exactly what I described above. "The more context you get, the worse it sounds." Very good:
The Romney campaign is also preparing to roll out 24 swing state events with small business owners in response to Obama's non-gaffe.