A Republican Official Comes to Obama’s Defense

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 18, 2008 4:03pm

Unsolicited, a big GOP muckety-muck I know, and with whom I frequently talk, emailed me today to defend Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, from the Clinton attacks that he lifted rhetoric improperly from Gov. Deval Patrick.

"It figures it would take the Clintons to get me to defend a Democrat! " the GOP official quips.  “And perhaps someone should note that Hillary sounds a lot like then Lt. Governor Kerry Healey who originally prompted Deval Patrick’s remarks when she said in 2006, ‘Well, he can make a good speech’… Is Hillary cribbing from Kerry Healey?”

But on a more serious note, the official says if Republicans "footnoted every time we use a Reaganesque phrase or saying – a Republican couldn’t give a speech. We know Joe Biden; Joe Biden was a plagiarist; Barack Obama is no Joe Biden."

The issue, the official says, is "I just know this could happen easily to any candidate or any staffer preparing a speech or a line for a candidate."

The official says this from experience. "Often if I came up with a good line for a candidate I would worry it might be something Reagan said that I had somehow incorporated in my head since I’ve read so many of his speeches and have so many quips and sayings of his in my subconscious, and DNA!  And certainly copying the construction of some line was very easy to do. You say something similar to someone when you are in a similar situation – which is the case here," with Obama in the same position as was Patrick.

And speaking of Reagan, the official writes, "Ronald Reagan didn’t note the film that the ‘I paid for this microphone’  line came from when he said it – he just reacted with it. Who knows if he even recalled it from the movies or if it just came subconsciously. (Per Yahoo answers — It was a line of Spencer Tracy’s from the movie “State of the Union”.  His character was going to be cut off at a debate and he said the line)."

"It’s pretty hard to come up with something new," the GOPer writes. "Politics is all about everyone reworking everyone else’s lines and sentiments – particularly for Republicans since we like to harken back to the Founders and our heroes, like Reagan.  But the bottom line is that there’s not much new in what we do.   Every time you come up with a slogan – you can go back and find out that Al Smith said it in 1928 or what you thought was your thought was actually an oft heard Lincoln line or something like that."

And for those Democratic conspiracy theorists out there, who think maybe this Republican is trying to build up Obama because of a theory Obama would be weaker, this conversation was part of an off-the-record one via email, and I asked if I could share the official’s thoughts.

And, for what it’s worth, this Republican thinks Obama will actually prove "the tougher candidate and will make Republicans get back to basics and talk about issues and philosophy rather than Clinton scandals and the psychodrama of Bill and Hillary and all that pathology that is sooooo 90s – all those distractions that the press loves but most of us are sick of – and to borrow a phrase – want to turn the page on!  And Obama brushing it off and saying, ‘Hey, maybe I should have credited Deval,’ and moving on shows perhaps he’s focused on the race and unlike the Clintons understands that it’s not about him."

Very interesting —

What say you?

- jpt

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