Monday, February 18, 2008

Prediciting Plagiarism - If it is not the first time, it is not the last.

Barack plagiarizes supermanThe story of the moment is Barack Obama "borrowing" phrasing from ally and supporter Governor Deval Patrick in a recent speech. Justin Gardner at Donklephant has video of both speeches for comparison. The story was pumped by Clinton campaign communications director Howard Wolfson in an interview at Politico, and now has been picked up all over the blogosphere and mainstream media, including: New York Times, The Swamp, Weekly Standard, Taylor Marsh, Confederate Yankee, MSNBC, Don Surber, Hot Air, Flopping Aces, TownHall Blog, Faithful Progressive, Sister Toldjah et. al.

Frankly, I tend to agree with Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters who asks and answers "Is This Really Plagiarism? No". This episode by itself, is understandable, explainable, not that egregious, and not that meaningful.

Problem being - this was strike two. As DWSUWF readers know, strike one occurred a few weeks ago. In our February 6 post "Powerful Plagiarism" we noted another "borrowed" phrase - "we are the ones we are waiting for..." - that Barack used effectively in his Super Tuesday victory speech. That episode is again - by itself - understandable, explainable, not that egregious, not that meaningful. But...

Take both items together, and it looks like a pattern of speechifying without attribution. Obama is looking like a serial "borrower" as are many lovers of language, including more than a few bloggers. This is not really a problem, unless you are running for president - ask Joe Biden. My take - This still has not risen to the level that it will cost him support. But..

It ain't over. What happens with strike three?

As we speak, you know that anyone who has an interest in seeing him fail (including strange bedfellows "right wing attack machine" and the Clinton campaign) are poring over all of his senatorial campaign speeches, all of his Illinois state senate speeches, and anything he has ever written in college.

And guess what? There will be more examples. When that college paper with another "borrowed" phrase shows up - He'll get the full Joe Biden treatment. You heard it here first.

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