I learned two things this morning. First, President Obama needs new speechwriters. Second, the president really did say that without government spending, Facebook and Google would not exist, which seems uncomfortably similar to Al Gore's claim to have created the internet.
Many people believe former Vice President and presidential candidate Al Gore said he invented the internet. This is untrue. The actual claim was made during a 1999 CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet." This was Mr. Gore's primary evidence that he he would be a more suitable Democratic candidate for the presidency than rival Senator Bill Bradley.
President Obama delivered his statements during an April 6 campaign speech to supporters at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, DC. The President said, "I believe in investing in basic research and science because I understand that all these extraordinary companies that are these enormous wealth generators -- many of them would have never been there -- Google, Facebook would not exist -- had it not been for investments that we made as a country in basic science and research."
This could be a bigger stretch than Leo Clauser's world record for shooting a rubber band. Considering the easily-assembled "same as the previous year" comparisons for important 2011 and 2012 speeches, White House speechwriters seem to be performing on par with the GSA employees who put together the lavish 2010 training conference at the M Resort in Henderson, Nevada. In no way was that conference an isolated incident. At a similar conference in Palm Springs, GSA interns were treated to prime rib and oysters designated "finger food" in order for them to keep their per-diem food allowances for other lavish meals.
On a serious level, those who've read Andy Kessler recognize the irony of this desperate attempt to take credit for internet-based economic powerhouses. Those aware of the SOPA and PIPA controversy know that the White House withdrew its support for those acts in January, but returned in April with new recommendations for the same type of restrictive internet legislation. The President does not have much evidence for any support of internet-based commerce.
There is a case to be made for investing in basic science and research. But "government tax dollars created Facebook and Google" isn't it.