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Are Politicians Big Plagiarizers? Does Originality Count?

It's a war of words, and the fight is over who owns them. Barack Obama's campaign, known for its slinky, silken rhetoric, may be borrowing those golden terms. Obama gave an awesome speech in front of Wisconsin Democrats this week, quoting lines from great inspirational speeches, like, "all we have to fear, is fear itself," and slamming the notion that words don't matter.

Fantastic. Except, um, Obama's words already had a little debut.

The entire section of that powerful speech was used, almost verbatim, by Deval Patrick, the ultimately successful Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, in October 2006. Oh. Obama and Patrick are friends, and do share a political adviser, but... does it cheapen the words for you?

And Hillary may not be completely innocent of heisting words herself. Her campaign would not confirm that Senator Clinton's rhetoric is entirely original. In fact, her Communications Director Howard Wolfson said, "Senator Clinton is not running on the strength of her rhetoric." Hmm.

Do we lose an opportunity to learn about the candidates if they're using other's words? Is it all a big deal over nothing?

Here is the matching Patrick video, read more. Judge for yourself.

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