In a conference call with reporters today, Clinton campaign officials said that Barack Obama exhibits a “pattern” of plagiarizing the words of other politicians, most notably Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
This strikes me as very lame, but also as emblematic of the hole the Clinton campaign finds itself in. Those who find Obama’s speeches inspiring will hardly be offended to learn that he is not the first to say things like “I am asking you to take a chance on your own aspirations.” After all, the English language allows only so many ways to utter meaningless platitudes.
But there is a reason why Clinton is flailing like this, rather than going after Obama on the issues. In the Democratic primaries, Obama’s lack of experience, which translates into lack of a voting record, is an advantage. In her years in the Senate, Clinton has sometimes had to bow to reality in casting her votes. Obama’s record, more a tabula rasa, allows him to get to Hillary’s left not just on Iraq, but on just about any issue–and in the Democratic primaries, there is no such thing as too far left. To the extent that Clinton tries to get behind Obama’s generalities and draw distinctions between his positions and hers, she is more likely to lose votes than to gain them.
Hence her willingness to talk about her experience, take Obama’s Chance the Gardener act at face value, and complain that he plagiarized it.
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