Berkeley Linguistics Professor George Lakoff speaking to 200 Progressives of Northern California following POTUS Obama SOTU in January 2010.
Spoke to William Jacobson, Cornell Law School, re his careful illustration with YouTube video (above and below) that the explanation for Candidate Obama's strange remark of July 13 in Roanoke, Virginia ("You didn't build that! Someone else made that happen!") was the teaching of George Lakoff of Berkeley. Lakoff argues against the idea of the self-made in America; Lakoff asserts that we get rich using the roads and communication of the commonwealth, built by taxes and government. Warren and Obama take this statement and personalize it. Warren says, "You factory owners..." Candidate Obama says, "You didn't build that..." Jacobson makes the careful point that, while Lakoff presents this rhetoric argumentatively, Warren and Obama speak out accusingly. Listen to Jacobson below, from 2008: "...in short the commonwealth is needed by everybody...nobody makes a dollar in this country in business without using the commonwealth...you can't start a business without a bank loan, you can't start a corporation without stocks and contracts that are enforced...you can't do this, sell products, without having roads, without having the Internet and the communication system... the idea that there is a self made man, a self-made millionaire, is false, absolutely false..." My final observation is that Warren and Obama are routinely charged by opponents with revealing their personal philosophy when they speak against the self-made and in favor of government tax and spend. This conclusion is not accurate. Warren and Obama are repeating constructed rhetoric that Lakoff presents as capable of dominating the political canvas. The case against the self-made and for Big Tax is agitprop. It is speechifying before home team voters. It is aimed to get the voter to react and to act. Do Warren and Obama believe in their denial of the self-made? This is not a critical question to answer. Warren and Obama use their self-made accusation in order to drive the contest, and this means it is highly useful to raise money and to motivate the vote. Process, not philosophy.