Republicans are pouncing on President Obama's recent remark that America has been "a little bit lazy" in pursuing foreign investment over the last couple decades. "We've kind of taken for granted," the president said, that "people will want to come here, and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business to America." GOP presidential hopefuls sprang into action: Mitt Romney said the comment shows Obama is out of touch, while Rick Perry released an ad accusing the president of calling the whole country slothful. "Can you believe that?" Perry said. "That's what our president thinks is wrong with America? That Americans are lazy?" Obama surrogate Bill Burton insisted that Republicans are twisting the president's meaning so badly that it's "laughable." Did Obama call Americans lazy or not?
Of course not: Claiming that Obama was calling Americans lazy is about as misleading and deceptive as anything we've seen in this pathetic GOP nomination fight, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Obama essentially said that "we as a country, businesses and government, have been complacent in promoting investment in America abroad." There are plenty of reasons to oppose Obama, but deliberately making it appear that he said something he didn't is "stupid and sophomoric."
"Republicans say Obama called Americans 'lazy,' except he didn't"
Obama's meaning was clear enough: Obama's "lazy" comment was part of a pattern, says Greg Johnson in the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinal. Recently, he said America had gotten "a little bit soft." If Obama really believed in American industry, he would have said U.S. companies are "far from lazy," and pointed out that they had tripled overseas sales over the last couple of decades. Once again, his choice of words shows his "ill-concealed contempt for American businesses and American workers."
"Obama's 'lazy' comment insulting"
We can argue about what he thinks, but not what he said: "If you want to psychoanalyze the president — and who doesn't?" — you're free to argue that the mere use of the word "lazy" reveals contempt for Americans, says David Weigel at Slate. But if the issue is what Obama actually said, then Perry and other Republicans are taking the president's words "completely out of context." "The 'lazy' people in this reference are bureaucrats, not average Americans."
"No, President Obama didn't 'call Americans lazy'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Ban PowerPoint!
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- The stories behind 22 classic album covers
Subscribe to the Week