Are we really taking this nonsense seriously?
President George W. Bush's former speech writer said that President Barack Obama plagiarized his former boss in Tuesday's State of the Union address.Of course, it turns out that the word "plagiarized" doesn't exactly mean to Thiessen what it means to you and me and all other users of the English language:
Speaking to Fox News's Megyn Kelly, Marc Thiessen, the lead writer on Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, said he found Obama's speech Tuesday night "eerily familiar."
"Barack Obama has gone from blaming George W. Bush to plagiarizing George W. Bush," Thiessen said.
Thiessen then read phrases from the 2007 speech which focused on the theme "hope and opportunity."
"It was eerily familiar. There were lines like 'Our job is to help Americans build a future of hope and opportunity, a future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy, a future of hope and opportunity requires that all citizens have affordable and available healthcare, extending opportunity and hope depends on a stable supply of energy,' all of that came from the 2007 State of the Union from George W. Bush," Thiessen said.
A quick text compare shows that no lines were directly lifted from Bush's 2007 speech in the one Obama gave on Tuesday. There are some minor similarities between the two: Obama use a version of the word "opportunity" more than ten times in his speech, Bush used the word at least eight times. Both speeches also ended with a moving story about a wounded veteran.So no passages were copied? Then it's not plagiarism. No one has a copyright or trademark on the word "opportunity." Bush doesn't have a patent on the word "hope" (which, by the way, appears ten times in Bush's 2007 speech and only once, pluralized, in the speech Obama delivered last night).
But if we're going to follow Thiessen's standard -- that State of the Union addresses are "plagiarized" if they merely contain the same words or ideas -- then I think there's a pretty good case to be made that Bush's '07 speech was plagiarized ... from Jimmy Carter's 1978 State of the Union address.
BUSH, 2007: "The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour -- when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies -- and the wisdom to face them together."
CARTER, 1978: "Each generation of Americans has to face circumstances not of its own choosing, but by which its character is measured and its spirit is tested.... There are ... times when there is no single overwhelming crisis, yet profound national interests are at stake.... It becomes the task of leaders to call forth the vast and restless energies of our people to build for the future.... We live in such times now, and we face such duties."
BUSH, 2007: "A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy -- and that is what we have. We're now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs -- so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government, but with more enterprise."
CARTER, 1978: "Last year was a good one for the United States. We reached all of our major economic goals for 1977. Four million new jobs were created -- an all time record and the number of unemployed dropped by more than a million. Unemployment right now is the lowest it has been since 1974, and not since World War II has such a high percentage of American people been employed.... private business and not the Government must lead the expansion in the future."
BUSH, 2007: "For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil.... It's in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply -- the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power.... Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years.... as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must step up domestic oil production..."See? Plagiarism, by Thiessen's standards.
CARTER, 1978: "Every day we spend more than $120 million for foreign oil. This slows our economic growth, it lowers the value of the dollar overseas, and it aggravates unemployment and inflation here at home. Now we know what we must do -- increase production. We must cut down on waste. And we must use more of those fuels which are plentiful and more permanent."
Or maybe we talk about the same damn things year after year (and president after president) in the State of the Union address because the same problems keep coming back, or never go away?