Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, February 22, 2008

Xeroxing Foolishness

Campaigns of late have seized at silliness and whipped it in their jaws like pitt bulls.

First (well, not first by any means, but first for this post), there was McCain's vacuous but oft-repeated claim that Romney support hard and fast milestones for departing Iraq. Anyone who read the Romney quote knew McCain was wrong, McCain knew he was wrong, but he refused to let it out of his grip.

Then, and on-going, there's Obama's mischaracterization of McCain's "100 years in Iraq" statement, which McCain should shut down by saying, "If a person can't tell the difference between having troops in combat and having an ongoing troop presence, they don't have the credentials to be commander in chief."

Now Hillary's at it again; her latest pitt bull moment a growl about plagiarism. Again, anyone who has heard Obama's explanation knows he wins the argument and has been winning it for a couple days now, but that didn't stop Hillary from raising it again last night.

As you look at the debate transcript below, you'll probably immediately be amazed at how much time was devoted to this non-issue. I certainly was.
MS. BROWN: I think -- I think one of the points that John King was alluding to in talking about some of Senator Clinton's comments is there has been a lot of attention lately on some of your speeches, that they're very similar to some of the speeches by your friend and supporter, Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. And Senator Clinton's campaign has made a big issue of this. To be blunt, they've accused you of plagiarism.

SEN. OBAMA: Right.

MS. BROWN: How do you respond?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, look, the -- first of all, it's not a lot of speeches. There are two lines in speeches that I've been giving over the last couple of weeks. I've been campaigning now for the last two years. Deval is a national co-chairman of my campaign and suggested an argument that I share, that words are important, words matter, and the implication that they don't, I think, diminishes how important it is to speak to the American people directly about making America as good as its promise. And Barbara Jordan understood this as well as anybody.

Now, the notion that I had plagiarized from somebody who's one of my national co-chairs -- (laughter) -- who gave me the line and suggested that I use it, I think is silly. (Cheers, applause.)

And -- you know, but -- but -- but this is where we start getting into silly season in politics, and I think people start getting discouraged about it. (Cheers, applause.) They don't want -- what they want is, how are we going to create good jobs at good wages? How are we going to provide health care to the American people? How are we going to make sure that college is affordable?

So what I have been talking about in these speeches -- and I got to admit, some of them are pretty good -- (laughter, cheers, applause) ...

Terrific line there, BTW. Without sounding the least bit nasty, Obama drives home a spike to the heart: "Hillary, this is really about the fact that I can speak circles around you, isn't it?"
-- what I've been talking about is not just hope and not just inspiration; it's a $4,000 tuition credit for every student every year -- (cheers, applause) -- in exchange for national service so that college becomes more affordable. I've been talking about making sure that we change our tax code so that working families actually get relief. I have been talking about making sure that we bring an end to this war in Iraq so that we can start bringing our troops home and invest money here in the United States. (Applause.)

And so just to finish up, these are very specific, concrete, detailed proposals, many of them which I've been working on for years now. Senator Clinton has a fine record.

So do I. And I'm happy to have a debate on the issues, but what we shouldn't be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up. (Cheers, applause.)

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton, is it the silly season?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That's, I think, a very simple proposition. (Applause.) And you know -- you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in; it's change you can Xerox. And I just don't think --

SEN. OBAMA: Oh, but that -- that's not what happened there --

SEN. CLINTON: No, but -- you know, but Barack, it is, because if -- you know, if you look -- (jeers from the audience) -- if you look -- if you look -- if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions.

Clinton clearly lost the point, despite her well rehearsed and carefully crafted "Xerox" money line. You don't want your killer statement greeted by groans and boos, but that's what happened to her last night.

Perhaps Hillary has conceded that her campaign is not about words, because she's just been caught doing the same thing she's accusing Obama of, but in her non-verbal case, it's apparently OK. Talking Points Memo posted this gem last night:

[Bill] Clinton, 92: "The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."

Hillary Clinton, tonight: "You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

I don't think she'll be raising the issue again.

Despite the stink of Clinton politics that Hillary just can't shake from her campaign, she won the debate in the last minutes, proving without mentioning Xerox that she is undoubtedly the better of the two candidates to turn to in troubled times. (Not as good as McCain, but better by far than Obama.)

MS. BROWN: We have time for just one final question and we thought we'd sort of end on a more philosophical question.

You've both spent a lot of time talking about leadership, about who's ready and who has the right judgment to lead if elected president.

And a leader's judgment is -- is most tested at times of crisis. And I'm wondering if both of you will describe what was a moment -- what was THE moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis?

Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I -- I wouldn't point to a single moment, and what I look at is the trajectory of my life, because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. And there were rocky periods during my youth when I made mistakes and was off course. And what was most important in my life was learning to take responsibility for my own -- my own actions -- learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions, but how I can bring people together to actually have an impact on the world. And so working as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago with ordinary people, bringing them together and organizing them to provide jobs and health care and economic security to people who didn't have it, then working as a civil rights attorney and rejecting the jobs on Wall Street to fight for those who were being discriminated against on the job, that cumulative experience I think is the judgment that I now bring. It's the reason that I have the capacity to bring people together, and it's the reason why I am determined to make sure that the American people get a government that is worthy of their decency and their generosity. (Applause.)

What a lackluster answer! We are really supposed to think that a couple years as a community organizer is all the holder of the world's most important, demanding and stressful job needs to pull it off? That "bringing people together" is all we need? That it can be accomplished with the people who need to be brought together or forever separated -- the Islamist terrorists -- because you helped some Chicago guy who claimed job discrimination?

MS. BROWN: Senator Clinton.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think everybody here knows I have lived through some crises and some challenging -- (laughter) -- moments in my life, and -- (interrupted by cheers, applause).

And I am grateful for the support and the prayers of countless Americans. But people often ask me, how do you do it, you know, how do you keep going, and I just have to shake my head in wonderment because with all of the challenges that I've had, they are nothing compared to what I see happening in the lives of Americans every single day.

You know, a few months ago I was honored to be asked, along with Senator McCain, as the only two elected officials to speak at the opening of the Intrepid Center at Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio, a center designed to take care of and provide rehabilitation for our brave young men and women who have been injured in war. And I remember sitting up there and watching them come in: those who could walk were walking; those who had lost limbs were trying with great courage to get themselves in without the help of others; some were in wheelchairs and some were on gurneys. And the speaker representing these wounded warriors had had most of his face disfigured by the results of fire from a roadside bomb.

You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country. And I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed, and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted. That's what gets me up in the morning. That's what motivates me in this campaign. (Cheers, applause.) And -- and you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored. I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored. (Cheers, applause.)

SEN. OBAMA: (Off mike.)

SEN. CLINTON: And 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. Thanks. (Cheers, applause.)

That got a standing ovation. It may not have been as beautifully delivered as lines turned by Obama, but those were the words of a leader, never mind that her Iraq policy would dishonor the veterans she is honoring.

She didn't speak about herself, as Obama did ("I can do it! I'm the anointed one!") but about the President's larger role, how decisions impact others, and how faith, prayer and a sharp perception of the lives of others and the bigger picture are what needs to be in a president's mind and heart.

I don't believe that's Hillary, but it was Hillary for a moment last night. I'd be surprised if it will carry her to victory in the Texas primary because the Dems are stinking hot with Obama fever, but it reconfirmed what I feel: GOP voters should vote for Clinton in the upcoming open primaries.

She'll be easier to beat in November, and will be less awful for America if she wins.

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