February 17, 2008


Obama's rhetoric getting some friendly help? (Mike Allen, Feb 17, 2008, Politico)

A rival campaign circulated a pair of YouTube links on Sunday that make the point vividly.

Here's Patrick at a rally for his gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 15, 2006, during the final stretch of his successful campaign against then-Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R):

“But her dismissive point, and I hear it a lot from her staff, is that all I have to offer is words — just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, [applause and cheers] that all men are created equal.’ [Sustained applause and cheers.] Just words – just words! ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words! ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ Just words! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words!”

Here’s Obama on Saturday night at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Founders Day Gala in Milwaukee:

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words! [Applause.] ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words — just speeches!”

Patrick, Obama campaigns share language of 'hope' (Scott Helman, April 16, 2007, Boston Globe)
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."

In the midst of his improbable run for office, Obama and his advisers have evidently studied Patrick's up-from-nowhere victory in Massachusetts and are borrowing themes, messages, and even specific lines for the presidential campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2008 11:30 PM

And Patrick has been a zero since being elected, with even some scandal involving decorations in his office and his wife. Does Obama want to emulate that as well?

Posted by: ratbert at February 18, 2008 1:48 AM

There are other 'moving' speeches these guys could have quoted, if they chose.

"You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold!"

Anything with the word malaise in it.

"I will raise your taxes"

"I did not have sex with that woman!"

"Save Social Security first!"

"Ein Reich, ein Fuhrer, ein Volk!"

"You will be as God, knowing good and evil"

It's just speech, after all.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 18, 2008 7:38 AM

I can't believe they overlooked the most obvious similarity between Deval and Barak. The former's campaign slogan was "Together, We Can." The latter's is Yes, We Can." Seems like a Doris Kearns Goodwin moment for Obama.

Posted by: Ed Bush at February 18, 2008 8:28 AM

"Borrowing" themes, messages and lines?

"I know a good joke when I steal one."

-Milton Berle

Posted by: Bartman at February 18, 2008 9:20 AM

Joe Biden must be jealous (in more ways than one).

Posted by: ratbert at February 18, 2008 10:33 AM

"A rival campaign circulated" - Can't they just say the Clintons?

Posted by: D. Woolwine at February 18, 2008 10:05 PM