Back in February, Barack Obama sounded a familiar note in defending himself against charges that his campaign was “just words” – in fact, a note taken almost verbatim from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, also a client of David Axelrod:
In June, Obama tried a different inspiration on for size, swiping the structure of Mario Cuomo’s famous 1984 Convention speech:
Just yesterday, Obama’s “lipstick” remark came at the end of a riff he swiped from Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles. Obama has now admitted that he took the line from a friend but didn’t know where it had originally come from.
If you followed the John Edwards campaign, you may have heard this Edwards riff on education:
Edwards criticized . . . the 5-year-old [No Child Left Behind] law, calling it a bad measure of how much children are learning. Children don’t learn anything from taking tests, like those mandated by the law, he said. “I borrowed this line from a friend of mine who’s from the South, but the way he says it is, ‘a hog doesn’t get fatter by weighing it,’ ” Edwards said.
Well, here’s what Obama said yesterday:
Obama made another porcine reference in Lebanon, Va., last night, speaking about education reform. “You don’t fatten a hog by weighing it,” he said. “The same thing is true with children’s minds — you have to feed them with knowledge.”
Less pithy than Edwards’ usage, but I’m guessing that this wasn’t a phrase Obama picked up in Hawaii or Chicago, but rather from listening to John Edwards.Now, nobody really believes that most politicians write their own stuff, but remember that this is the same Obama campaign that thought it important to redirect attention away from Sarah Palin to her speechwriter. But of course, Obama has his own speechwriting team, and that apparently still doesn’t stop him from serially recycling other people’s words, which is pretty ironic given that Obama’s words and “change” are supposed to be his big selling points.
I suppose it would be unfair to compare him to that other famous plagiarist, Joe Biden, since if you recall the 1988 race, what got Biden in trouble wasn’t the comparitively venial sin (by politician standards) of plagiarism but the more serious one of fabulism – claiming details about himself from other people’s lives (Ace and Dan Spencer explain this point in some detail).
But clearly, for all of Obama’s famous eloquence in delivering speeches, original thought is not his forte. But I guess some people enjoy watching reruns and pretending it’s something new.