OMG! Barack Obama, the silver-tongued front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, lifted a couple of lines and an idea from the black governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. Patrick, himself something of a wordsmith, had been hit with the same attack by a wooden opponent, and responded by saying that words matter, and citing Martin Luther King's famous "I have a dream" line and the Declaration of Independence's ringing "all men are created equal."
Now, one could argue that Obama would have been better advised to give fair attribution to Gov. Patrick, but since when have politicians gone around putting footnotes on their public speeches? Most political speeches are excercises in cut and paste, full of regurgitated pablum and lifted quotes. If plagiarism were a political crime, 90 percent of members of Congress would be out on their ears.
Besides, come on now! We're not nominating an English professor, god knows. If we were, how in hell would we have had Bush for president for the last what seems like eternity, with his maddening use of the word "nukular," his drunken "sh" slurs all over the place, his grammatical attrocities, and his mangled quotes (remember "if you fool me once..."?)?
Excuse me, but we have a criminal $1-trillion war raging in Iraq that is sucking the lifeblood out of the American economy, killing American troops by the day and slaughtering innocent Iraqis by the hundred thousands, we have an economy that's racing for the toilet like a party-goer who ate too many bad shrimps, we have bridges collapsing, we have the North Pole ice vanishing faster than Bush's credibility, and the media are focussed laser-like on what? The momentious question of whether Obama lifted a quote from Gov. Patrick without acknowledgement?
We have Democrats trying to decide whether to select a woman senator who used insider information to make a killing in cattle futures, who has accepted massive donations from the healthcare industry and military contractors, who voted enthusiastically if cynically for George Bush's Iraq War, and whose husband wants nothing more than a new shot at some eager White House interns, or a black senator who spoke out against that war before it happened, when to do so was to risk being called a traitor by the Commander in Chief and his minions, and the best our vaunted "independent" media pundits can do is what? Accuse Obama of plagiarism?
Thank you, Fourth Estate, for making us a well-informed citizenry.
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This story was published on February 19, 2008.