Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign communications director, today accused Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of committing â€œplagiarismâ€ in a speech in Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Wolfson made the explosive charge in an interview in Politico, after suggesting as much in a conference call with reporters.
On the call, Wolfson said: â€œSenator Obama is running on the strength of his rhetoric and the strength of his promises and as we have seen in the last couple of days, heâ€™s breaking his promises and his rhetoric isnâ€™t his own.â€
Obama closely echoed a passage from a speech that Deval Patrick, now the Massachusetts governor, used at a campaign rally when he was running for that office in 2006.
Here’s Deval Patrick…
Well, what does Deval Patrick think?
The Massachusetts governor said in a statement: â€œSen. Obama and I are longtime 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.â€
Obama has been hit with the plagiarism charge before (and first) here at Donklephant for using the phrase “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,”…
When Obama said â€œWe are the ones weâ€™ve been waiting for,â€ he should have prefaced it with â€œIn the words of the poet June Jordan.â€ Then I would have been moved instead of angry that heâ€™s uttering those powerful words out of context (also the title of an Alice Walker book, and a Sweet Honey in the Rock song, but June Jordan originally wrote them in her â€œPoem for South African Women.â€)
But it was ultimately discovered that Obama didn’t copy the author in question, but echoed a Hopi Elders creed.
So did June Jordan and Alice Walker and Sweet Honey all plagiarize originally when they used those words as their own and didn’t credit the entire Hopi Nation?
Here’s more from Deval Patrick:
Mr. Patrick said he did not believe Mr. Obama should give him credit.
â€œWho knows who I am? The point is more important than whose argument it is,â€ said Mr. Patrick, who telephoned The New York Times at the request of the Obama campaign. â€œItâ€™s a transcendent argument.â€
David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Mr. Obama who also advised Mr. Patrick, said Sunday that Mr. Obama adapted the words from Mr. Patrick. Mr. Axelrod said that he did not write the words for either candidate.
â€œThey often riff off one another. They share a world view,â€ Mr. Axelrod said. â€œBoth of them are effective speakers whose words tend to get requoted and arguments tend to be embraced widely.â€
Again, a non issue, but watch for Drudge and Hillary to be pushing this like crazy.
Oh, this is rich. If Clinton had done something similar, which she inevitably has, it wouldn’t be as big a deal.
I asked Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson and Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass, if they could assure the public that neither Clinton nor McGovern has ever done what Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, did when he used the rhetoric of Gov. Deval Patrick without footnoting him.
They would not.
In fact, Wolfson seemed to say it wouldn’t be as big a deal if it were discovered that Clinton had “lifted” such language.
“Sen. Clinton is not running on the strength of her rhetoric,” Wolfson said.
How dumb do these people think we are? This is literally some of the worst messaging I’ve ever seen.
“I was on the stump, and, you know, he had suggested that we use these lines,” Obama said at a news conference a few minutes ago. “I thought they were good lines. I’m sure I should have [given him credit], didn’t this time.”
Obama became a bit defensive when asked by a reporter whether his words were his own.
“Now hold on a second. I mean, look here, I’ve written two books. Wrote most of my speeches,” he said. “So, I think putting aside the question you just raised in terms of whether my words are my own, I think that would be carrying it too far. Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and, you know, he’s occasionally used lines of mine. I was at a [Jefferson-Jackson] dinner in Wisconsin used some words of his. And, you know, I would add that I know Sen. Clinton on occasion has used words of mine as well.”
Obama said he frequently gives credit to others for ideas or language he has gotten from others. “I’m happy to give Deval credit, as I give to a lot of people for spurring all kinds of ideas,” he said.
Obama downplayed the matter and said it is something most voters likely do not care about. “I really don’t think this is too big a deal,” he said.
Hopefully this will put this all to rest and demonstrates that Deval did give him permission to use similar language. A lot of people over at Reddit have reminded me that Hillary used the refrain “Yes We Will” after Obama introduced “Yes We Can.” This is just what happens folks, and to accuse anybody of plagiarizing a piece of a speech here or there is pretty weak when Clinton’s own surrogates say they can’t ensure she’s never done the same thing.
Done and done.