It’s no surprise to anybody that Deval Patrick and Barack Obama have borrowed riffs and language from each other for the past several years. Their tremendous similarity is one reason, I believe, Obama lost both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Here’s what I wrote in January on the subject. I started my column with a Deval Patrick riff that could have been Obama: “This was not a victory just for me. This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope.”
For this reason, the Clinton attack of Obama carries little weight. It seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for a candidate who is essentially being advised, in part, by Deval Patrick, to use this language. It’s a transparent relationship, and everyone following politics is aware of it. It’s also well-known that Patrick and Obama share the same campaign strategist, David Axelrod, which puts the charge of “plagiarism” in a different and less damaging light.
Here’s my take on the fracas: “The saddest thing about the Clinton campaign’s attack on Mr. Obama’s oratory is that her team should have been ready for it. President Clinton came to Massachusetts on October 16, 2006, to campaign for Mr. Patrick, when he was making his “just words” speech. Mr. Clinton hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Patrick, whose own campaign was filled with rhetoric of hope. If anyone should have been prepared for and ready to counter such a campaign, it is Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Patrick’s language was so similar to that of Mr. Clinton during the 1992 campaign that the Boston Globe published a story about their similarities, ‘In Patrick, A Clinton Echo.’ The article quoted a key passage of a speech given by Mr. Clinton in 1992: ‘This election is a race between hope and fear, between division and community, between responsibility and blame, between whether we have the courage to change, to stay young forever, or whether we stay with the comfort of the status quo.’ The language was, in fact, so similar that Mr. Patrick could not tell if the words were his or Mr. Clinton’s.
Later that same day, Mr. Clinton praised his former appointee, Mr. Patrick, calling him “magnificent.” There is no record of him criticizing Mr. Patrick’s language as too similar to his own. Mrs. Clinton has a sliver of a chance in this presidential race. But yesterday’s tired trick will likely do more to hasten the end of her national political career than sustain it.”