Past Rant I

“Where Did I Plagiarize?”

If my friend were running for President of the United States I hope I could give him/her the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn’t deliberately try to plagiarize my past words. To be totally truthful, I might let it happen, then make a stink about it so I could get some free press. That said, I can’t believe that Obama’s usage of his friend’s past words was a deliberate act of plagiarism. I can’t believe that this is a common practice for him either. Barack Obama is a Harvard Law School graduate. I will go out on a limb and say he probably understands how to write a speech, and cite sources. Does that mean in the heat of a nomination process he won’t ever make a mistake? Not likely. He is human, and like all of us is subject to a momentary lapse of reason (or two). I don’t think he meant any malice, or tried to pass off his friend’s words as his. The words he spoke sounded like something he would say anyway. So I wonder, what is next for the Obama naysayers? What other negative attacks are they going to use to try and take him down?

First, there was the argument that naive hope will not be enough to run the United States. Spread with pepperings about not enough experience the attack on hope continued, and still does, in many ways. Then, there was (and still is) talk about not enough detailed policy plans. I’ve heard and read people say, “He gives great speeches, but ask him a question about policy and let’s hear is answer…?” Last time I checked, wasn’t Obama a past editor for the Harvard Law Review? I’m not a lawyer, but I will go out on another limb and say – to hold that position takes some kind of skill and depth of knowledge. You don’t just correct grammar mistakes, I’m sure of that. I think he understands policy details.

Now, it’s a plagiarism accusation. Did he plagiarize? If you follow the letter of the definition, yes. But, let us think for a moment – if we followed the Constitution to its exact meaning life would be very very different. So in order to fit the times we have adjusted our understanding of the Constitution. I’m sure we can do that in this current political situation. Is this plagiarism accusation a big deal? Absolutely Not. Reason? I’ve heard a lot of politicians, academics, and just common folk use words like, “I have a dream…”, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but…”, and the list goes on, with no reference to who said them. Let’s face it, this is just another attack from people who fear a loss of power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We are seeing this acted out before our very eyes.

The amazing thing about all of this is that Barack seems to be able to travel the high road. He was called out, and didn’t stood his ground. He admitted his mistake and apologized. He also gave a zinger or two by saying Governor Patrick was his friend, and they’ve traded words before. Also, Gov. Deval Patrick seems to have brushed this off as well. Through this whole campaign Barack has tried to stay above the fray. There were a few times I thought he might have gotten pulled down, but he was able to keep himself above it all.

Here’s a tip for the competition – Don’t attack the strength. Attack the weakness. If Barack can’t give a detailed answer then ask him real policy questions. Don’t attack his character because as far as we all know, it’s solid as a rock. If I were the opposition I would focus on the issues and not the rhetoric. Ask him a question and wait for an answer. When he’s done, ask him another question, and wait for an answer. Keep doing this and I’m sure the details everyone wants will come out. If they don’t, people will see and he will lose support. If it was good enough for Socrates, I’m sure it is good enough for us.

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