Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The highest form of praise

At some point, charges of plagiarism get silly. Rare is a direct lifting of one person's paragraphs, word for word, and presentation as one's own, although there are politicians who'll try that. But when ideas travel as swiftly as they do now, there's a much vaguer line as to when borrowing gets a bit too liberal. So maybe Barack Obama was a tad proprietorial about stuff that belongs to Deval Patrick. But here's Hillary, having levied the charge against Obama, speaking to her own supporters today --

Others might be joining a movement, but I’m joining you on the night shift.

Nicolas Sarkozy had a clever slogan when he was running for President last year: that he was the candidate for "the France that gets up early". Clever because it cut into the perception of the Socialists as the presumed candidate of the working class. Indeed, Sarkozy's whole campaign is a case study in how to get elected when the voters aren't even sure they like you that much, although if the voters knew then what they know now, maybe that feat would have been impossible.

Of course, Hillary's catchphrase differs quite a bit from Sarko's, and there's no evidence that she or her campaign team knew of his before coming up with hers. But ideas get around -- especially ideas for a candidate whom the voters may not especially like when up against a more glamorous alternative. If there are going to be plagiarism hunts, someone should ask Hillary's team where that sentence came from.

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