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.
Not five months later, Obama, his presidential campaign gaining steam, had this to say about legendary Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky in The New Republic: “Sometimes the tendency in community organizing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and of ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.’ Those are just words. ‘I have a dream.’ Just words.”
Aha! So Obama didn’t exactly plagiarize Deval Patrick last week in Wisconsin — he plagiarized himself in The New Republic, plagiarizing Deval Patrick. Glad we’ve got that cleared up! 😉