He was trying to make the same point that Elizabeth Warren made a while back — that anyone who is successful in American is successful in part because of the work of others — building roads, providing a stable system of law and order, educating the people hired to work, etc. etc. At the core, we have a banal truth that everyone can agree with. But there are differences in emphasis and outright misstatement that can pop up and look horrible taken out of context.
Here's how Warren put it:
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.Now, that was really well put, a plain spoken statement of the truth, with a passionate edge that spins some listeners toward the idea of higher taxes for the rich and irritates the hell out of those who hear the power of these words and can't point to any actual misstatement.
And then there's Obama:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.The boldface part is a blunder. He couldn't have meant to say that, and he must be really sorry he did. He's got the core idea there: You got some help. Then, in the blunder, he needed a few more words: If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that alone. Somebody else must have helped you make that happen. Anyone who likes Obama can say, in context, you can tell these additional words are implied. Someone more neutral — me, perhaps! — would say, obviously those additional words were intended, but it was nevertheless revealing that he let it slip out in that form. We learn something about his orientation toward business, government, individual achievement, and the collective, and we should pay attention to that. And anyone who opposes Obama is going to nail him with these words, using them for humorous effect over and over again.
A Google search for "'you didn't build that' obama" turns up 485,000 results. An image search turns up many visual jokes.
Here's a useful website that somebody