A Huge, Huge, Mistake Obama Made in His Wonderful, Wonderful Speech

09/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama brought us a wonderful speech. Obama's speech produced "a bump" that polls alone couldn't possibly measure. I got choked up and a jump in my diaphragm that is, for me, a completely unfamiliar physical response to any event - except the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

But, I am mystified why Obama would use in his speech two lines reminiscent of Aaron Sorkin's dialogue in "The American President," which as of this moment, MSNBC, the most supportive network for Obama, has already pointed out. If the Republicans aren't completely asleep at the wheel, Obama has given them a huge opening. They will explain the "lift" and then their line will be, "we were wrong. Barack Obama is not a celebrity, he's an actor - pretending to be a leader." And, it plays right into the Hillary zinger, "a speech." And they'll say, "he's only a speech, and it's not even his!" Why, in a speech full of soaring oratory would those lines be included? Why was it remotely necessary? Wasn't there another way to say what was said? Surely there was.

The lines were, "Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it" and Obama, "it's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it." The other: "you want a character debate? Fine..." and Obama, ""If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and the judgment..." Not identical, but...

And perhaps more difficult, because Sorkin knows the cadence of a great speech, and Obama does even more so, the line produced a similar - forceful, necessary - moment. In fact, if the Republican are smart, they will run an ad with Michael Douglas as Alan Shepherd side by side with Barack Obama. It will be that one opening - Dukakis in the tank, Kerry windsurfing. One. After this tremendous speech it will be not be enough, but something they'll sorely need and why give them anything? He might even open up the ancient issue of Joe Biden lifting speeches from Kennedy and Neil Kinnock (sometime credited, sometimes not.)

And, it was more or less intentional. According to an interview with Sorkin, Obama said, "My intention is to steal a lot of your lines." Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - that would be fine if Sorkin was lifting from Obama, but not the other way around.

I'm moved, inspired, ready to work my butt off for this once in my lifetime man, I'll probably get slaughtered for this blog and I hope I'm wrong... but I'm mystified.

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