Just (someone else’s) Words

A New York Times story today raises questions about whether Senator Barack Obama is guilty of plagiarism, because he is using lines from a speech previously given by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Patrick and Obama are friends, and Patrick says he previously discussed the lines with Obama.

Plaigarizing? Well the Merriam Webster dictionary says “plaigarizing” is “to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own.” By not citing Governor Patrick during the speech, he did pass off Patrick’s words and ideas as his own.

Indications of a catastrophic character flaw? I just don’t see it. It was dumb, but it was not Watergate or lying about reasons to go to war.

Bad strategic decision? Absolutely. Any politically savvy person should be able to see that using these lines without citing the original user would distract from the important “words matter” message.

This strikes me as a bit different from the Joe Biden plaigarism controversy of several years back, but it is wrong. And man is it a dumb and ill-timed stumble.

Obama should come out today and say something like this: “Governor Patrick shared his lines, and I’m glad I used them. They make a powerful and critically important point. But I obviously should have attributed them to him, because that’s what you do. In the mad rush of the campaign, I made a boneheaded mistake. I regret it, and I take complete responsibility for it. No “buts…” No “howevers…” No excuses. I made a mistake and I am very sorry for it.”

If you want to signal a change from the arrogant, unrepentant Clinton and W Administrations, that would signal a change.

– Loveland

grants for school kind

7 thoughts on “Just (someone else’s) Words

  1. Yes, that straight-up apology would indeed signal change. But we’re not interested in that. We’re interested in just using words about change. Words matter, you know. Somebody smart said that once.

  2. jloveland says:

    His response from today’s NYT:

    “Mr. Obama told reporters he should have credited Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, a friend, for a passage in a speech he delivered on Saturday in Milwaukee. But Mr. Obama said his rival was “carrying it too far.”

    “Let’s see,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve written two books. I wrote most of my speeches. I would add that I noticed Senator Clinton, on occasion, has used words of mine as well.”
    ….
    The exchange injected a fresh dose of contention into the bitter fight for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Obama said two of his standard lines — “It’s time to turn the page” and “Fired up and ready to go” — have made their way into Mrs. Clinton’s remarks in recent weeks.
    ….
    Mr. Patrick said he and Mr. Obama discussed the argument in advance and he encouraged his friend to defend himself the same way he did during his race in 2006.

  3. David Gergen last night called this “a dumb mistake,” and observed Obama hasn’t made many of them.

    Being a recovering pessimist, I fear it could hurt him — we’re about to see as Wisconsin votes come in.

    Admitting mistakes is indeed a sign of character. If I ever make one, I plan to admit it.

  4. What a waste of time (oops, I’m sure someone said that before). Let’s get somethiing straight (ops, someone said that before too). Now that I stop to think of it almost every word in the English language has been used by someone before and EVERY political speach uses some english. Heck, if all speakers were to give credit to someone else for having used the word before they would spend all there time wasting our time. Oh, they do that anyway.

    Ah hell, this is a waist of time too. Let’s move on to something important. I wonder if HGH is used by football players? Now that’s important and should be investigated.

    Let’s Put America First
    http://www.letsputamericafirst.com

  5. Dennis Lang says:

    Hmm…. Marty Cordova. A couple bright seasons as a Major League outfielder, including second in Rookie of the Year balloting to current Angel’s outfielder Garrett Anderson, about twelve years ago (I believe). And you did it without HGH. What the heck are you up to these days?

  6. Dennis Lang says:

    I take that back. Thought I might have reversed the order and it was bugging me. So a little research: Mr. Cordova WAS Rookie of the Year in 1995 for the hometown nine. Garrett Anderson second? So, where did you go, Marty Cordova?

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