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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,

. Judge for yourself.

Join The Conversation
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
Collegegirl - plagiarism is defined as unauthorized use. So it wasn't plagiarism by any twisting of the definition.
CollegeGirl CollegeGirl 9 years
IMO, Plagiarism is a big deal. If you (or your speechwriters) can't express your viewpoint without "borrowing" someone else's words, why even bother?
Zahara-Pitt Zahara-Pitt 9 years
YES WE CAN- Cesar Chavez, the new messiah is so unorginal
legalbeagle legalbeagle 9 years
Im from MA and I honestly do not mind him using Deval's speech. They are close friends and whose to say that Deval didnt get some of his ideas from speaking with Obama at some point in time? He had permission to use parts of the speech... they are taking something that works and are going with it... Kind of like a theme for progressive Americans.. Im not sure Im expressing what I mean in the right way... but oh well.. I dont think its a big deal. btw.. You think Clinton comes up with everything on her own? These politicians have a team of people writing speeches for them for every single event in which they have a microphone in front of them. None of their speeches are penned by the politician him/herself.
foxie foxie 9 years
If words are so powerful and important, he should have had the sense to conjure up some powerful words of his own. Duh.
bethany21 bethany21 9 years
Um, popgoestheworld is amazing and I completely agree. That is all. And I would also like to point out that McCain and Clinton have recently appropriated Obama's cutesy campaign slogans, and no one has taken them to task for that!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"The dictionary definition uses the key phrase of "unauthorized use". If the user is authorized, then how is it plagiarism?" Amen.
hvnly34 hvnly34 9 years
I don't consider it plagarism because he did have permission. It would have been prudent for him to mention his friend knowing that every single step or mis-step he takes are being closely scrutinized. None of the major candidates write all of their own speeches without assistance - that is why I don't think this is a big deal...
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
Again, we should all be able to have different opinions, also if you are a minority of those who choose to write on this link. It is especially easy to get feisty if one are. But what you what you say can and will be used against you, in the order of internet, so it can get a little personal every once in a while. But let's all roll out our yoga mats and start chanting.
tibs457 tibs457 9 years
haha, i appreciate the comment about no attacking. also, he is "quitting" and yet he still hasn't. there are words, and then there are actions. finally, my comment about him smoking and being a bad role model because of that, was only a side note. i'm done with this conversation though, it has gotten a bit ugly and pointless... (i'm sure my decision to stop here will be seen as me ceding to the argument, but i'm fine with that.) again, have a nice day everyone!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
:ROTFL: tresjolie!!!
indielove indielove 9 years
tresjolie: haha. touche.
indielove indielove 9 years
Contrary to popular belief, I have no problem with difference of opinion, it's all about how it's approached. I am definitely someone who has strong opinions about certain topics, so do many other people and I can respect that. Just be diplomatic and make SENSE when you're talking. If I can understand what your points, even if it doesn't mirror my thoughts, I will still be ok with it. I'm not trying to convert anyone but I have a voice and I will speak, no question about that.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
On smoking; Bill Clinton has had his fair share of cigars..
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
*** There
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Indie, not everyone has to like him, and people have the right to call him whatever they want. Their is a difference between passion and rudeness among others who do not share the same beliefs.
indielove indielove 9 years
Jude C: I very much agree with your last statements. Very petty indeed. Hillary's lucky he's not as tactless as some of her managers and advisors. She has much more to cover up.
indielove indielove 9 years
*your Seriously though, I'll fight tooth and nail for Obama, he deserves to be heard....he is highly capable of being one of the best Presidents this WORLD has ever seen, not just this country. Yes, I BELIEVE in him THAT much.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
This is like a rodeo!
Community-Manager Community-Manager 9 years
Good to see everyone's perspective but please no direct attacks at any user who has a difference of opinion. Thanks!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
(I would also say that if one is questioning Obama's qualifications/credibility as a potential world leader based on the fact that he is a smoker, then Obama really doesn't have anything to worry about as far as anyone digging up substantial dirt on him to disqualify him from the position.)
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I doubt that any of the candidates are at this point writing their own speeches, so for me the main question here, of originality of every single word used in every single speech, is pretty much moot--as is the question of how much that relates to the integrity of each candidate. Popgoestheworld pretty much said all I was thinking of saying on the topic, only better than I would have said it :) To me this is definitely a case of straw-grasping and mudslinging blown far out of proportion. I'm disappointed (but not surprised at all) that the debate should have descended to this level. It's obviously an attempt to attack Obama's integrity, and clearly there are no substantial integrity issues to latch on to, or else this would not have become a "controversy." It's a case of choosing to debate style rather than substance. Sad.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
:ROTFL: popgoesthe world! My understanding is using, in this case a speech, and taking credit for it with out recognizing the source. I could be wrong however, but that is what I was taught. Even if it is not plagiarism, I still think reflects poorly on his speech, and that his writers should have come up with original material.
tibs457 tibs457 9 years
a lack of intelligence does not result in complete idiocy perhaps i should have stated, "a temporary lack of judgment or intelligence" and that would have made it more clear. indielove, you continue to dodge the real issue here, which is plagiarism. whether or not it was intentional, it happened. p.s. i believe that obama has a continuing lack of intelligence in that he smokes, and has made no valid effort to quit. what kind of role model is that?
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
Popgoestheworld; LMAO!
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