Just Words, But Whose Words?

This must be "Barack Obama rebutting Hillary Clinton circa 2008?" At Saturday's night's Wisconsin Democratic party dinner?  

The charismatic, brilliant, inspiring black politician came to the stage to address the latest attack from his white female opponent.

"Her dismissive point, and I hear it a lot from her staff, is all I have to offer is words," he said. "Just words.

"'We holds these truths to be self-evident,'" he continued as the crowd began to cheer and applaud, "'that all men are created equal' -- just words. Just words."

The applause increased.

"'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,'" the pol said. "Just words. 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.' Just words,'" he said, switching effortlessly from our Founding Fathers to FDR to JFK.

And then, the piece de resistance: "'I have a dream' -- just words," he said.  (Report by ABC News' Jake Tapper)

Nope.  Not Barack Obama:

On the left: Deval Patrick, ultimately successful Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, responding to then-Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey in October 2006.

On the right: Barack Obama, speaking Saturday night at the Wisconsin Democratic party dinner following Hillary Clinton. Obama got great applause, although his enthused supporters had no clue he was just reviving a well-honed line not only NOT created by Obama but by another campaign, all engineered by guess who:

What do the 2006 and 2008 mimickers share in their quest to overcome their lack of substance with lofty rhetoric? The man who has the fix for just that kind of problem: "Since last year, observers have been noting that rhetorical similarities between the two candidates with vaguely similar biographies and campaign pitches -- who also share political guru David Axelrod,"writes Jake Tapper in today's ABC News Political Punch. That's right, it's David Axelrod, Obama's campaign manager who in 2006 was Deval's manager.

Who else is copying the lines? Obama disciple and former Sen. Bill Bradley on today's CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: "I mean, words are central to who we are as a people. I mean, we hold these truths to be self-evident, give me liberty, give me death, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." (It's darn sure that Bill Bradley got the internal memo on how to counter the charge of lack of specific substance in Obama's droning speeches.)

I guess it's kosher for Axelrod's two guys to lift each other's best material -- but it would have been more proper for Obama, delivering those lines as his own, heard supposedly for the first time as fresh rhetoric fluorishes to a large audience of rapt Democrats, to have acknowledged to his starry-eyed audience -- who thought those were Obama's OWN WORDS -- that they came from Deval Patrick in Massachusetts. Or, as Tapper points out, both lifted from Patrick, who was similarly challenged to show something more substantive than his lofty, empty rhetoric his opponent criticized him for.

And Axelrod says "Yes we can" was Obama's campaign slogan in 2004. (So Obama echoed Patrick who echoed Obama.)

Of course, all of it is an English pinch of the slogan Si Se Puede from the United Farm Workers from 1972! (Tapper)

And astute readers at NoQuarterpointed out that one phrase, "we are the ones we have been waiting for" actually was written by Alice Walker. Walker, an Obama supporter, should politely ask Obama to at least credit her by saying, "As Alice Walker wrote, 'We are the ones we have been waiting for'." [But such sourcing of materials apparently is left to lesser humans like bloggers and their readers.]

So that message of hope is pretty much about delivering other people's lines without telling his audience he's doing so? What else is he "cribbing"? Well, we know he cribbed Sen. Clinton's infrastructure plan, then had a hissy fit when she dared to point that out. And there's more more on other such cribbing here.

Taylor Marsh -- who the left used to love until she dared to support Sen. Clinton -- adds some fascinating tidbits, and some very astute insights in "Barack Obama's Presidential Con":

Taylor received an e-mail from a reader in Massachusetts, where Deval is governor:

... I live in Western Massachusetts. Guess what the lead-off story was on the local broadcast news tonight? Yes, "Plagiarism?" It was all about how Obama's "just words" riff was strikingly similar to Deval Patrick's speech from 2006. The story included a grainy video of Patrick delivering his speech, and then the clip from Obama's speech the other night. The reporter mentioned that the two shared campaign strategist, and that borrowing from others' campaigns wasn't that uncommon. ... it raises the idea that he may be just reading from a script. Then cut to the Hillary Clinton saying it's going to take more than speeches, it will take hard work.

Deval did issue a "rambling" statement but, as Taylor points out, "Tapper's comments afterwards are spot on."

Taylor then reflects on what the blind adoration of Obama, and his teleprompter-dependent speechifying.

The traditional media [except a few like ABC's Brian Ross and Jake Tapper, and even NBC Nightly News the other night, as well as the Chicago newspapers], cable talking heads, and quite a few large progressive blogs [ahem] have regurgitated the Obama story like ... nomads wandering in the political desert in search of sustenance; people bankrupt of political or factual integrity looking for the answer and refusing to see what was in front of their faces all along. The question is whether the journalists who bought into the Obama hype, along with the cable talking heads who propped his campaign up, and the Obama blogs who didn't care one whit about the facts or his record but were only interested in spreading their Hillary hatred, have got so much invested they won't have the honesty, the integrity, and the moral courage to back peddle on their craven cave in before it's not only too late for them, but too late for the Democratic party.

Barack Obama isn't an original. He's the first 21st century L. Ron Hubbard of politics, Elmer Gantry, name your huckster.

"I have a dream" just became "I have a con."

The con job has gotten so bad that, as another NoQuarter reader reported, Obama's besotted followers are even defending Obama with this kind of drivel -- this reportedly comes from David Lindal, via ThirdWorldState blog, run by a group of journalists:

“I think it is ridiculous not to acknowledge that a black candidate at this level is fundamentally different from all white candidates who have come before or who are now competing. the more so a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs, and who has relatives TODAY living in the Third World (Kenya).”

I leave you with this from New York magazine: "A Second Obama Plagiarism Scandal?"

Except to add this: When Obama goes "off script" or doesn't have a teleprompter, he gets in trouble.

At that same Wisconsin Saturday night speech, although his written remarks stated that he'd talked to "auto makers" about changing their ways, in his speech he said he'd talked to "auto workers about changing their ways." (Time's Halperin The Page blog has the written remarks provided to journalists before Obama spoke; C-Span has the actual video of what Obama said.) Nobody in the media picked up on that. But it'd be priceless to pass that quote around, and let the auto workers react! Update [2008-2-18 9:9:15 by SusanHu]: I'm willing to give Sen. Obama the benefit of the doubt -- I HOPE he was misspeaking.

Mr. Obama, keep that teleprompter in front of you at ALL times! And try to credit those from whom you "lift" your "inspiring" lines.

Tags: Barack Obama, David axelrod, Deval Patrick, Jake Tapper, Massachusetts media (all tags)



Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

This was already posted with almost the same title.

by beanbagz 2008-02-18 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

OrangeFur's piece is great.  Mine includes a lot of additional material, quotes, and observations.  Including more about Obama's speech Saturday night.  It is SIGNIFICANTLY different in content and informatin.

by susanhu 2008-02-18 04:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Agreed. Thanks for filling in many more details, Susan.

by KnowVox 2008-02-18 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Obamabots

Ahem.... Same worthless lying attacks on Clinton supporters. If you can't provide a shred of evidence, stop the personal attacks.

by KnowVox 2008-02-18 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: and making the

I clicked on the NYMag article titled - 'A Second Plagiarism Scandal'. The thing is a joke. Read it.

'Change Rocks!' - the most original combination of two words in the history of the English language. That is what the second 'plagiarism scandal' referred to. There was no way a campaign based on the slogan 'Change' was every going to combine that word with another oft-used word - 'rocks'. Ridiculous.

Susan Hu is just helping create another generation of Republicans by helping feed the worst possible interpretation of anything remotely associated with Obama. Mobilize the hate Susan!  

by crazymoloch 2008-02-18 10:30AM | 0 recs
exuse me?

this isn't an attack, it's a challenge. What has he done, what will he do first, on day one, what are his priorities, not in his speeches.  I'm sure he has plans, but why won't he debate her and bring them up? He's brought this on himself by choosing to go rhetoric and attracts pugs and indies who may not like his real plans but love his rhetoric?  

by anna shane 2008-02-18 01:45PM | 0 recs
Your tips and comments are welcome.

by susanhu 2008-02-18 04:11AM | 0 recs
This is exactly my concern...

With Obama. He's phenomenal when in front of a teleprompter... But when he's on his own, he doesn't sound so great. When he preaches to us the need for "fundamental change", he takes our breath away... But when asked to tell us what "change" means, we're suddenly holding our breath as we wait for an answer. This is Obama's biggest problem, and it doesn't help him when he can't solve it on his own. He can't just keep stealing other people's words and ideas to make up for it.

by atdleft 2008-02-18 04:44AM | 0 recs
I think Tapper also previously...

reported that the big O made a lot of flubs and was floundering at some other event where a teleprompter wasn't available.

by Shazone 2008-02-18 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Your tips and comments are welcome.

I have a question. Why do you hate Obama so much that every diary you post on here and at Daily Kos sounds as if you're ready to explode from the hate. Can you even still post this crap over there?

by TheFullBerry 2008-02-18 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Obama supporters who refuse to acknowledge the fraud and deception of Obama's utterly vapid campaign are so many easily duped drones devoid of political acumen and integrity.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-18 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?


   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.

   Both men had anticipated that Mr. Obama's rhetorical strength would provide a point of criticism. Mr. 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.

   Mr. Patrick said he did not believe Mr. Obama should give him credit.

   "Who knows who I am? The point is more important than whose argument it is," said Mr. Patrick, who telephoned The New York Times at the request of the Obama campaign. "It's a transcendent argument."

Nice try though..

by nogo war 2008-02-18 04:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Patrick's statement to the media was also scripted by the Obama campaign.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-18 04:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

THERE YOU GO AGAIN* -- telling the truth.


*Ronald Reagan, whenever

by susanhu 2008-02-18 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Is this truth kind of like the "truth" about 9-11.  Because the reasoning seems all too similar.

by Meng Bomin 2008-02-18 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

lol. Like I believe that.

by world dictator 2008-02-18 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Really? You think Deval was right on this? Nice try, indeed.

That was not borrowing words. That was using the exact same words, just rearranged. People really should be wondering if this wonderful, inspiring rhetoric is scripted.

Funny thing is, Deval should ask for credit...he delivered the speech far better than Obama did.

by americanincanada 2008-02-18 06:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

So, his millions of mindless supporters don't know the difference or don't care?  That must mean they're stupid and unmotivated.  I thought that Obama's supporters were supposed to be all college-educated, rich-people who are willing to spend hours attending caucuses?  I am confused.

by Dave 2008-02-18 04:48AM | 0 recs
Patrick already put this to rest

Take your anti-Obama bullshit elsewhere, Hillbot.

by prince georges for obama 2008-02-18 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Take Your Threats Elsewhere, ObamaBot

Listen, "prince georges for obama," this is the second time this morning, I've read a comment by you that sounds suspiciously like a THREAT.

The first one was in Andre's diary, where you parroted the threats against Tavis Smiley's family by responding to Andre that his family would be safe if he left Obama alone.


by Tennessean 2008-02-18 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Take Your Threats Elsewhere, ObamaBot

That is ridiculous on its face if you think that's a threat.  You first say its "suspiciously like"  then you say in "these are threats".  Make up your mind and stop trying to stop dissent with tactics like these.

by GobBluth 2008-02-18 06:36AM | 0 recs
BTW...Deval Patrick was the person...

Obama went to see during the 2006 trip when he refused to set foot in Connecticut because he knew he would be asked to say something nice about our DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, Ned Lamont.

(BO was in NY on one day - had a free day - and then was due in Mass for Patrick...but managed nicely to avoid CT and Ned Lamont - even though CT is directly between NY and Mass.  That was the first indication that he is not true to the will of the people - in this case, DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.

by Shazone 2008-02-18 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: BTW...Deval Patrick was the person...

that was awful.  then that nitwit Lamont endorses Obama.

And where is Obama's "mentor," who he supported against Laont?

Why, Joe Lieberman is standing beside John McCain these days.

by susanhu 2008-02-18 05:42AM | 0 recs
When Lamont endorsed Obama...

I unsubscribed to his page and wrote him a letter telling him how much he had betrayed those of us who worked (so) hard on his behalf.

He should have endorsed Edwards - who actually showed up in CT on his behalf.

by Shazone 2008-02-18 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

no surprise

by sepulvedaj3 2008-02-18 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

The best part of his campaign was his words. When everyone finds out that they're not really his, his campaign could be finished.

by HillaryKnight08 2008-02-18 06:27AM | 0 recs
Don't count on it.

The need to believe in a transcendental candidacy is too strong among his supporters at this point.

I've heard some leftists who now support Obama say that it doesn't matter whether Obama himself turns out to be an empty vessel--what matters is that he's coalesced a movement of AA voters and the young, a coalition that is needed if progressive change is to happen. I have severe doubts about how such a coalition can hold together when it is based on a charismatic personality rather than on a consensus about how to change things (aside from "changing the tone" in Washington). But if Obama wins the nomination, I'll just have to hope that I'm wrong.

by Inky 2008-02-18 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Thank god. Maybe now people will see Obama for who he is.

by americanincanada 2008-02-18 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Unfortunately for you the press will play it as a desperate attempt by HRC and will quote Deval Patrick. Remember, they don't like her anyway.

by illlaw1 2008-02-18 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Seems to me that Obama has spent FAR less time copying Patrick than Hillary has spent copying Obama in her stump speech.  "Yes she can?"  Of course, we allready knew that Hillary was nothing more than a garden variety hack willing to steal and cheat and say anything to get people to vote for her.  So I guess her serial plagiarism of Obama is par for the course for her.  

by davey jones 2008-02-18 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

There is a big difference between co-opting a commonly used word, like 'change' or prase like 'yes, she can'.

Besides, 'yes, we can' was a phrase used by Cesar Chavez and I believe Delores Huerta is a Clinton supporter. Not exactly stealing when the originator of the prase in poltical usage is on your side and saying it too.

by americanincanada 2008-02-18 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

"Besides, 'yes, we can' was a phrase used by Cesar Chavez and I believe Delores Huerta is a Clinton supporter. Not exactly stealing when the originator of the prase in poltical usage is on your side and saying it too."

So its not stealing when Clinton lifts supposedly with permission, but when Obama uses phrases with explicit permission, its a window into his absence of character?

I never cease to be struck by the complete and utter lack of substance of the Clinton campaign.  Oh, yes, she has a long laundry list of plans and proposals, but it has been clear for some time that she has no idea why she's running for president.  Other than the fact that she wants power.  Which is why her campaign so frequently devolves into this sort of gutter attack on Obama.  Because Clinton has no real message, or overarching theme to her candidacy.  She stands for nothing.  Other than dumping crap on the other guy's head to get people to vote for her.  

Which makes for a pretty stark contrast in this contest -- the campaign of inspiration versus the campaign of cynical calculation.  Not a hard choice for those of us without a vested interest.

by davey jones 2008-02-18 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Yeah thanks we all know it's si se puede but HRC wasn't using it until she started losing.

by illlaw1 2008-02-18 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

What you hear is desperation from the Hillary camp?   I remember her "Yes we can" chants about a week after the press made notice of Obama's.  This line of attack might work, but if that's the best that they can do then Clinton definitely shouldn't win on the Electability count.  

by GobBluth 2008-02-18 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

You missed the point of AmericaninCanada's post. "Yes we can" was not even Obama's line to begin with.

You speak of desperation. Obama Supporters are desperate to defend him all the time, yet when Hillary does a similar thing she is...wicked?

by HillaryKnight08 2008-02-18 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Hillary does what similar thing?

by illlaw1 2008-02-18 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Hillary uses negative ads. She is demonized fo it. Obama uses negative lines and he gets away with it?

by HillaryKnight08 2008-02-18 10:17AM | 0 recs
Patrick's Statement:

"Sen. Obama and I are long-time friends and allies. We often share ideas about politics, policy and language. The argument in question, on the value of words in the public square, is one about which he and I have spoken frequently before. Given the recent attacks from Sen. Clinton, I applaud him responding in just the way he did."

Plagarism?  Really?

by Brillobreaks 2008-02-18 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

This is about the most pathetic attack I've ever seen.

Obama uses Patrick's words which quoted core texts in American political history -- with Patrick's knowledge and permission.

This is so sad for Senator Clinton.  Doesn't she have anything to say for herself?

by mainelib 2008-02-18 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Another bullshit hit piece by Susan Hu.

by mikelewis68 2008-02-18 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Susan Hu's last vein is going to pop on her forehead pretty soon. So angry and bitter and full or rage. Towards a fellow Democrat? The lies and hatred and smears and libel and slander directed towards Obama will do her in if she she keeps this vitriol up.  

by TheFullBerry 2008-02-18 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Just stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

by Zeke12 2008-02-18 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

My god, how dare Obama quote "I have a dream" and the declaration of independence!! This makes Clinton look bad.

by mecarr 2008-02-18 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Why not just criticize Governor Patrick for plagiarizing Jefferson, Roosevelt, Kennedy and King without attribution?

by dmc2 2008-02-18 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Comedy. If this is all ya got you're going to lose.

When did Change and Yes We Can become part of HRC's stump speeches?

by illlaw1 2008-02-18 09:02AM | 0 recs
Some rare insight, thanks to Susan's update

Thanks to her "auto workers" line, we get a rare insight into the mind of a smear campaigner.

At that same Wisconsin Saturday night speech, although his written remarks stated that he'd talked to "auto makers" about changing their ways, in his speech he said he'd talked to "auto workers about changing their ways."  (Time's Halperin The Page blog has the written remarks provided to journalists before Obama spoke; C-Span has the actual video of what Obama said.) Nobody in the media picked up on that.  But it'd be priceless to pass that quote around, and let the auto workers react!

So, in your world, you are so determined to have Hillary be president, that you would encourage and delight in the media shoveling this down the public's throat because it helps your candidate. Who cares if it is wrong? Who cares if it does not accurately reflect Obama's ideas or the actual speech? And damn the auto workers who you are willing to lie to in order to prop up your candidate.  That's where I call bullshit.

I like Hillary, but you and your ilk are a poison to political discourse.

by dannyinla 2008-02-18 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

This is the thing about the Clinton's making a big deal of this.  The "plagarism" angle doesn't really matter.  It's clear that Axelrod ties the two and they probably share a lot of the same ideas and staff and even speech writers and whatnot.  I believe Patrick when he asys they actually discussed this and he said Obama should use the same lines.  That, in iteself, is a nonstarter, but it's not the point of this criticism, either.

The important thing for the Clintons is to tie Obama to Patrick because Patrick ran the same kind of campaign and has been seen as ineffective since taking office.  This isn't about plagarism, it's about pointing out that there was another candidate with the same handlers and message that captivated a constituency with the hope speeches and "words", and he has been an ineffective leader since taking office.  That is playing into Hillary's strength of "ready on day one", and that is what they are trying to accomplish.

by NJIndependent 2008-02-18 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

If there is any fairness in the world, Obama's presidential campaign will be finished over this. Joe Biden got trashed for borrowing only a few lines from John Kinnock (sp??) the British labor leader for which Kinnock did not have any objections. May be the lazy beltway reporters will now do their job and actually find out what else Obama has been borrowing/stealing in his rhetoric.

by ScottinNJ 2008-02-18 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

BTW, Biden also shared a lot philosophically with Kinnock and may the two even spoke on occasions.

by ScottinNJ 2008-02-18 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

It's not like he stole the words -- more like a loan from a friend.

And Obama admitted this afternoon that he should have given attribution. That's how it should be done to prevent a major issue -- Say you make a mistake and then move on.

Personally, I think we need a president who can say when he should have done something different.

Why can't Hillary do the same with her mistakes?

by mainelib 2008-02-18 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

So he took out a loan eh ?

What was the interest rate.  Was it a sub-prime loan ??  Will he default and go into foreclosure now ???

by SevenStrings 2008-02-18 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?


My favorite candidate in this race was Sen. Biden (because he was the only one who spoke out about Darfur).

As I recall, he once ran for President, and his campaign got derailed for a lot less

by SevenStrings 2008-02-18 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

Biden's campaign was never about words, even though he got derailed by words.

Obama's campaign is all about words, and how they inspire people, and how the rest is small change.

by SevenStrings 2008-02-18 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

This is funny--it just goes to show that the Hillary meme that Obama has not been vetted enough is a rather meaningless threat.  If this is the best Wolfson can come up with, wow, McCain is in trouble when Obama gets the nomination.

Now as far as plagiarism goes, and plagiarism theory, this wouldn't qualify for plagiarism.  "Just words" is too short to be plagiarized.

Obama was countering Hillary's idea that rhetoric is empty with a few choice quotes from the past where rhetoric was quite powerful.  

Hillary is not debating the merits of her claim that rhetoric is empty--she's just trying to muddy the waters and tear Obama down.

IF she keeps this up, she will go down in history with a few unflattering footnotes.

by foxsucks81 2008-02-18 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Just Words, But Whose Words?

We can debate whether or not Obama's reuse of Patrick's words is appropriate or not. I can see arguments either way.

What's not appropriate are the personal insults hurled at SusanHu for expressing her point of view. It doesn't help your candidate in the slightest, and makes others assume you can't debate her on the merits.

I hope the folks doing that are not the same ones who took exception to Paul Krugman's contention last week that there's too much venom coming from Obama supporters, or to andrewalker's same point in another diary.

by OrangeFur 2008-02-18 11:20AM | 0 recs


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