Fresh accusations of plagiarism are being hurled at Barack Obama for his use of language on the stump that directly mirrors speeches given by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. But there is no fresh news here: in fact, this rhetorical connection between the two pols was noted by the Boston Globe way back in April of 2007.
In an article titled, "Patrick, Obama campaigns share language of 'hope,'" Globe reporter Scott Helman noted that the "just words" theme of Deval Patrick's speech were born out of accusations that mirror the ones Obama is facing now, and that Obama was present on one occasion when Patrick deployed the language:
Of all the things Deval Patrick's Republican opponent threw at him in last year's governor's race, one charge that stuck in his craw was that his speeches were more fluff than substance -- that they were, in Patrick's telling, "just words." So he devised an artful response.
" 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal' -- just words," Patrick said at a rally in Roxbury right before Election Day. " 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' -- just words. . . . 'I have a dream' -- just words. They're all just words."
The crowd erupted as it got Patrick's point about the power of language. But perhaps no one at the rally understood the point better than Barack Obama, who had joined him on stage that night.
Similarly, the article from April 2007 specifically mentioned that the Obama campaign had every intention of studying the success of his friend, Patrick, as a model for his own Presidential run:
In the midst of his improbable run for office, Obama and his advisers have evidently studied Patrick's up-from-nowhere victory in Massachusetts and are borrowing themes, messages, and even specific lines for the presidential campaign.
Both men were said by the Globe to be -- at the time -- "learning from and feeding off each other." The root of their shared rhetoric was identified as David Axelrod, who advised both campaigns. And while Patrick did notably back away from using Obama's "Yes we can" refrain -- Patrick campaign advisor Dan Payne said at the time, "We definitely didn't want to copy him, Deval takes pride in his words and he wants to use them uniquely" -- there's no indication that either man objected to sharing rhetorical flourishes.
Similarly, there wasn't any indication back in April of last year that this matter was any cause for concern or complaint. State Democratic Party chair Phillip W. Johnston spoke of the two men with admiration: "We all said that we could have closed our eyes when Obama spoke [and] it could have been Deval. To us it was a similar kind of message. It's a message that transcends partisan politics."
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