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Why I Chose “Those 12 Seconds”

I received the following email from David Weigel of Slate this morning.

Subject: Were you first to clip Obama/build it line?
From: David Weigel
To: contact@soderstrome.com

I’m a writer for Slate writing about how it got out there even though local
media didn’t notice. Why did you choose those exact 12 seconds?

David Weigel
Slate political reporter

Here is my response in full:

From: Erik
To: David Weigel
Subject: Re: Were you first to clip Obama/build it line?


Thanks for the email. I actually found the transcript before I found the speech. I had seen a few posts on Twitter about the speech and several linked to blogs that had quoted the 3-4 paragraphs around the remark. From there I was able to track down the White House transcript as well as a video of the remarks.

You’ve already read my post regarding the context, so I won’t repeat the argument here. I will reiterate that I think if you read the full remarks, you can only conclude that he was talking about the business.

I chose these “12 seconds,” (actually, I think it’s about 6.5 seconds without the outtro) for three basic reasons: it was succinct, shareable, and in his own words.

First and most importantly, it is an accurate portrayal of the President’s attitude towards business. If you don’t believe a business owner is responsible for his company’s success, advocating for redistributive policies makes sense.

I also chose it for brevity. It’s not as if video of the remarks wasn’t available online. In fact, before I posted the clip, it was easy to find the full speech on Youtube, but the relevant clip was over 30 minutes in and he wasn’t finished. The average person doesn’t watch 30 minutes of a stump speech. The average person may watch 12 seconds of a stump speech, and they might share it.

Finally, it’s in his own words while campaigning for this election. I could spend all day pontificating about what I believe Obama thinks about business, business owners, and the private sector in general. That will never be the same, nor will it ever be as effective as Obama himself telling business owners they aren’t responsible for their success.


~Erik Soderstrom