Thursday, February 21, 2008

In The Same Debate, Clinton Accuses Obama of Plagiarism -- Then Commits Plagiarism

Those stirring final words of Hillary Clinton's at tonight's debate in Texas? Straight from the mouth of John Edwards.

Clinton in tonight's debate: "You know, whatever happens, we're going to be fine. You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends. I just hope that we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people. And that's what this election should be about."

Edwards in a December debate with Clinton: "What's not at stake are any of us. All of us are going to be just fine no matter what happens in this election. But what's at stake is whether America is going to be fine."

(Disclosure: I cut-and-pasted those quotes from the WaPo FactChecker. Don't want to be accused of plagiarism.)

Is cribbing a good passage from another politician a bad thing? Let's ask Hillary -- again, from tonight's debate:

"Lifting whole passages from other peoples speeches is not change you can believe in, but change that you can xerox."

(Disclosure: I corrected FactChecker's spelling of "xerox" in the line above.)

And Edwards' aren't the only lines Hillary "borrowed" tonight: her "the hits I've taken in life" line (a good one) came from Primary Colors, the anonymous, scandalous book about her husband's 1992 campaign that turned out to be written by campaign insider Joe Klein. She didn't attribute that plagiarism, either. (Obligatory anti-plagiarism-accusation disclosure: I found the above nugget in a comment by C Watson on FactChecker. C Watson got it from Megan McArdle, who got it from Dan Drezner.) UPDATE, FEB. 22 12:19 AM Pacific: And Klein apparently cribbed it directly from one of Bill Clinton's stump speeches -- so it's hard to tell whether Hillary took it from Bill or from Klein. (h/t insomnia.)

And there are numerous other examples from Hil's speeches and debates -- just Google "hillary clinton plagiarism" and watch the numbers grow hour by hour tonight.

Not everyone gets it, of course. The Washington Post reported Clinton's soundbites without noting their provenance (let's see how long it takes them to catch it from "non-professional-journalist bloggers). And Clinton partisan Taylor Marsh, who turns somersaults in order to somehow blame Obama for this brouhaha, is either deeply disingenuous or deeply confused about the point, which is NOT plagiarism.

Is it terrible that Clinton borrowed Edwards' words, or Bill's, or Klein's? Not really. But neither was Obama's use of a line that a friend of his offered to let him use. The issue is that Clinton tried to smear Obama with a discredited and essentially irrelevant plagiarism accusation while doing the same thing herself at least twice in the same debate. Clinton's "primary" sin isn't plagiarism; it's hypocrisy, dishonesty, and disingenuity -- which, as I've been telling you, has been her campaign M.O. all along. This is just more tangible proof than usual.

To put it more succinctly -- and for the record I am quoting Maureen Dowd, who in turn is quoting Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) -- If your whole candidacy is about words, they should be your own words.

The issue isn't plagiarism any more; it's integrity. Hillary's playing negative politics while failing to live up to her own standards, which is what integrity is all about. So I ask again what I keep asking: is this really the kind of nominee you want, one you honestly believe can both win the voters' trust in November and go on to rehabilitate our own -- and the world's -- faith in America's essential goodness after the last eight years of Presidential lies and distortions?

I didn't think so.


Anonymous said...

It also featured a "plagiarized" line by Bill Clinton!

Please pass the info on...

Anonymous said...

First, hello and nice blog for plagiarism, it was such a trivial issue, so clearly part of the clinton's "swarm of gnats" strategy that i don't care to make anything of her borrowing...besides that it makes her look kind of like a hypocrite...

MM said...


I just posted a new video on YouTube with a side-by-side comparison between Edwards' and Hillary's closing lines. Here's the link:

Please check it out and spread the word!

Btw, I don't really care that she used Edwards' lines, but it's certainly pretty ironic that she fell in her own trap...