Since the media seems to have developed a sudden interest in plagiarism, an interest that it lacked when it came to the likes of Barack Obama or Joe Biden, let's revisit a funny little incident in the past.
Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign's communications director, today accused Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of committing “plagiarism” in a speech in Milwaukee on Saturday night.
Wolfson made the explosive charge in an interview with Politico after suggesting as much in a conference call with reporters.
On the call, Wolfson said: “Sen. 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, he’s breaking his promises and his rhetoric isn’t his own.”
"When an author plagiarizes from another author there is damage done to two different parties. One is to the person he plagiarized from. The other is to the reader," said Wolfson.
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 Patrick at a rally for his gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 15, 2006, during the final stretch of his successful campaign against then-Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R):
“But her dismissive point, and I hear it a lot from her staff, is that all I have to offer is words — just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, [applause and cheers] that all men are created equal.’ [Sustained applause and cheers.] Just words – just words! ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words! ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ Just words! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words!”
Here’s Obama on Saturday night at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Founders Day Gala in Milwaukee:
“Don’t tell me words don’t matter! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words! [Applause.] ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words — just speeches!”
Obama's plagiarism is of course fairly notorious and rarely discussed. He's ripped off everyone right down to Jimmy Carter. But this was one of the few times that someone from his party called him out on it.