03/28/2008 02:46 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ex-Clinton Speechwriter: "So Silly To Accuse Obama Of Plagiarism"

We asked former Bill Clinton speechwriter David Kusnet if today's plagiarism accusations against Barack Obama were justified. In his mind, was what Obama did acceptable, or a violation of speechmaking ethics? Here are his thoughts ...

Barack Obama's greatest strength is the originality of his rhetoric. Sometimes he talks like a regular person, as in his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when he introduced himself as "a skinny kid with a funny name." Sometimes, he sounds like a president from an earlier, more historically literate era, as when he situates his campaign in a tradition that includes the American Revolution, the abolitionists, and the emergence of the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and other social struggles. But only rarely, if ever, does he use the familiar freeze-dried phrases that most current politicians favor. To borrow a phrase from the UAW, the "domestic content" of his speeches is unusually high.

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