YouTube Clips are Weapons in Democratic War of Words

As another example of Obama’s speech borrowing surfaces (the video above shows Obama using the same exact language as Deval Patrick used in an earlier speech), the mud is really starting to fly from both the Clinton and Obama camps.

David Axelrod, one of Obama’s speechwriters, worked on Deval Patrick’s campaign for governor, and Patrick has recently said that he authorized the use of his speeches. However, Merriam Webster’s definition of plagiarism (“to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source; to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source”) seems to fit these circumstances.

The questions the Clinton camp wants answered is, if you are an inspirational speaker, does it matter if the words you use are your own? Thus far, any semantic betrayal has not resonated with voters, as evidenced by Obama’s resounding wins in yesterday’s primaries.

The AP reports: “Hillary Rodham Clinton says reporters, not her campaign, uncovered evidence of Democratic rival Barack Obama sharing speech lines with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. She made the claim Tuesday despite the fact her campaign posted video clips on YouTube illustrating similarities in the speeches and has suggested in several instances that the shared lines amount to plagiarism. THE SPIN: ‘It’s not us making this charge, it’s the media,’ Clinton told Honolulu television station KITV Tuesday. ‘The media is finally examining my opponent which I think is important. We’re trying to pick a president, someone for the toughest job in the world.'”

The Obama camp is quickly trying to refocus the media’s energy on Clinton’s apparently inaccurate claim that it was the media, and not her campaign, that fueled the allegations of plagiarism.

“…on Monday, the Clinton campaign announced a conference call ‘to discuss a recent speech delivered by Sen. Obama’ and included a YouTube link that showed Obama remarks side by side with similar comments by his friend, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. On the call, Howard Wolfson, the campaign’s communications director, said: ‘When an author plagiarizes from another author there is damage done to two different parties. One is to the person he plagiarized from. The other is to the reader.’ Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mailed statement: ‘Senator Clinton knows full well that her campaign held a conference call with reporters to fan these flames and the fact that she suggested her campaign had nothing to do with it is exactly the kind of evasive tactic voters are rejecting.'”

The anger of Obama’s speechwriter finally set him off against Wolfson’s sweater: “Without naming him, Axelrod then took a shot at Wolfson: ‘Our buddy in the ugly sweater will show up on your show and try to make this and other things an issue. Anything they can grab on to now.'”

The following debate video of Bill Clinton has also surfaced as a response by Obama supporters to Hillary Clinton’s claims that experience is more important than rhetoric. In it, the former President claims that experience is important, but isn’t everything.

It really has become a YouTube election.

Obama turns tables on Clinton [politico]
“Just Words”, “Just Words” – Is that the Obama Story? [huffington post]
Clinton Fingerprints on Plagiarism Flap [ap]