The Importance of Pseudo-Plagiarism

Posted: Feb 19, 2008 12:25 PM
It's not so much that Obama actually plagiarized. It seems Deval Patrick and the advisers he shares with Obama sanctioned the use of similar language in the two candidates' "just words" speeches. So, Barack was, at worst, sloppy about borrowing the phrases without attribution or some sort of polite nod to his friend.

But what the story takes a whack at, effectively, is Obama's authenticity, which is his No. 1 selling point. Hillary's camp is smart to play up the fact that the supreme orator, the Messiah of American politics, the man of change above all else, could really just be another politician with a flair for speechifying, a calculating player with no compunction about inspiring with rehashed copy if it suits his purposes.

This incident will prompt much closer looks at Obama's words from here on out, which will naturally be rougher than the positively orgasmic reviews he's been getting up until now. This is good for Hillary and good for the GOP in the general if he ends up being the nominee.

Not only does the Messiah's bubble of political uplift get popped, sending him tumbling just a bit closer to the mere mortals he's campaigning against, but no one in the GOP has to be the bad guy who did it. The bottom line is, if you're selling inspiration, you better truly be inspired, Barack.

And here are the fruits of the closer look at Obama, already growing:
“In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Patrick said that he and Mr. Obama first talked about the attacks from their respective rivals last summer, when Mrs. Clinton was raising questions about Mr. Obama’s experience, and that they discussed them again last week," the Times' Jeff Zeleny wrote. "Patrick said he told Mr. Obama that he should respond to the criticism, and he shared language from his campaign with Mr. Obama's speechwriters.”

But Obama was quoted using Patrick's language before the Summer of 2007.

"'We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.’ Those are just words," Obama was quoted as saying in a March 19, 2007 New Republic story. " ‘I have a dream.’ Just words.”

So....the claim that Patrick an Obama "first" discussed this last Summer does not make sense.

And this:

Patrick in June 2006, at the Massachusetts Democratic party convention:  "I am not asking anybody to take a chance on me. I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

Obama one year later, as quoted in USA Today: "I am not asking anyone to take a chance on me. I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations."

Anyone notice that the "just words" speech was actually better delivered by Patrick? Could it be that Deval 2.0 isn't really an upgrade?