Monday, February 18, 2008

Clinton, Obama, and "Lifted"

From today's WP:

Yesterday, key Clinton supporters accused Obama of "lifting" a passage of the rousing speech he delivered to a party gathering in Milwaukee on Saturday night from Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick, a longtime friend and supporter. Side-by-side YouTube videos distributed to reporters by the Clinton campaign show Obama repeating, almost verbatim, lines from a speech Patrick gave two years earlier.

As you may be aware, Obama's stump speech has a section that states that the phrases "I have a dream" and "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" were also "just words"--powerful words that mobilized a nation. This was similar to a section of a speech by Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts and a close Obama friend and supporter.


From the Times:

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Patrick said that he and Mr. Obama first talked about the attacks from their respective rivals last summer, when Mrs. Clinton was raising questions about Mr. Obama’s experience, and that they discussed them again last week.

Both men had anticipated that Mr. Obama’s rhetorical strength would provide a point of criticism. Mr. Patrick said he told Mr. Obama that he should respond to the criticism, and he shared language from his campaign with Mr. Obama’s speechwriters.

Mr. Patrick said he did not believe Mr. Obama should give him credit.

“Who knows who I am? The point is more important than whose argument it is,” said Mr. Patrick, who telephoned The New York Times at the request of the Obama campaign. “It’s a transcendent argument.”

"Lifted" is a word with powerful psychological resonance. "The pickpocket lifted the wallet from the passenger", say; or " The reporter lifted the phrase from another article."

To use a word such as "lifted" here--where the information was given from one close friend to another, is simply false. Would the Clinton camp say that a candidate "lifted" phrases from a speechwriter who offered words for the campaign?

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman

Words have power. When discussing Obama's, the Clinton campaign should also give equal careful consideration to their own.