Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Pieces of Nonsense Yesterday about Bill Clinton and Barack Obama

As primary voting is underway today in Wisconsin and Hawaii, I wanted to comment briefly on two campaign issues which received considerable media coverage yesterday.

1. Bill Clinton's heated lecture to a person at a Hillary Clinton rally waving a big anti-abortion sign has been cited - by Fox News and others - as a return to his self-centered aggressive campaigning, which may be hurting more than helping Hillary.

My take on this
: Nonsense - it's good and helpful for a former President to take a strong stand on this issue, whenever possible, whether or not he's campaigning for his wife. More specifically, it was not Clinton's aggressive style, or his insertion of himself into Hillary Clinton's campaign, that caused problems for Hillary a few weeks ago, and received criticism from lots of people, including me. It was the nature of Bill Clinton's attacks on Obama.

And, clearly, a verbal exchange with an anti-abortion protester is not at all the same as an attack on Hillary Clinton's rival. This is an issue upon which most Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, agree. Bill Clinton deserves our praise not criticism for standing up on this.

2. The Clinton campaign accused Obama of "plagiarism" because Obama used a passage in a speech about the power of words first used, almost word for word, by Obama's friend and campaign ally Deval Patrick (from a speech Patrick made in 2006, in his successful run for Massachusetts governor).

My take on this
: Pretty close to nonsense. The slim part that's legitimate is, ideally, Obama should have said in his speech, "as my friend Deval Patrick aptly says..." and then gone ahead with the passage. But calling this "plagiarism" is ridiculous. (The very word comes from the Latin: to kidnap.) You cannot steal something which is voluntarily given to you. Clinton's campaign must know this. They only make themselves look petty by grossly mislabeling this minor misstep.

And I'll be back tonight after the returns are in.
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