Well, the political world is all afire about Barack Obama using several phrases and notions from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and I thought I would offer my thoughts on the matter.
First up, I am absolute death on plagiarism. I have personally hounded off the net several sites that stole my pieces, and have a special level and type of hatred for those who do so.
That being said, and as someone who’s been quietly observing the parallels between Obama and Patrick for some time, I think it’s no big deal.
The remarks being cited as being lifted are empty rhetorical flourishes, and not even very good ones. The gist of them is to take the criticisms against Obama and Patrick — that they’re all pretty words and no substance — and rebut them with some powerful quotes from American political history. As one commenter observed, “there are only so many ways to say nothing.”
More importantly, Obama and Patrick are allies. This is no great surprise. They’re both charismatic black men who’ve built their political careers not on any accomplishments or lofty ideas, but appeals to vague terms as “change” and the like. And in Patrick, he’s turning into an unmitigated disaster as governor.
As allies, they have fairly close ties. It’s been reported that they have swapped staffers back and forth, and offered assistance to each other. It seems likely that in this case, Patrick “gave” the language to Obama, who tweaked it a little before using it publicly.
You can’t steal a gift. If someone gives you something, they can do whatever they want with it they want unless you put conditions on the gift beforehand.
I’ve used that principle to my benefit on numerous occasions. One time, a guy sent me some paparazzi photos, along with a note telling me how I could buy them. I had no use for them, but I wrote back saying that I didn’t have to buy them from him — he’d already given them to me. That got him thoroughly riled up, and we exchanged several nasty e-mails over the subject. I must confess that I was partly fueled by my loathing of the paparazzi.
In the end, the photos ended up in the trash. Pity the photographer and the idiot who sent me the photos couldn’t be so easily disposed of.
Another time, in line at a supermarket, another customer saw my medical bracelet and offered me their business card — they were one of those “herbal remedies/holistic health” dipshits. I thanked them for their card and used it to blow my nose.
So did Barack Obama use some phrases first used by Deval Patrick? Yup. But big deal. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter in the least. And even in the hypersensitive day-to-day world of political campaigning, it’s not even small potatoes.
There’s plenty of reasons to criticize Obama. This is one of the dumber ones.
Hell, just look at his plan to give about eight billion dollars every year to the UN to “fight global poverty.” That, alone, ought to disqualify the guy from the presidency.
But this “plagiarism?” It’s not just petty, it’s stupid. Let it go.