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A Smidgen of the Bloom Comes off the Rose

As detailed here, the Clinton team has turned up the heat on Barack Obama for beginning to weave and dodge on his agreement to accept public campaign financing (and the spending restrictions that go with it) and for appropriating without attribution the words of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (who made the point, by way of quoting great historical phrases, that words do really matter).

As to the first, team Clinton, as we pointed out here, got a nice assist from John McCain. Both Clinton and McCain recognize the value in diminishing Obama’s image as a “different kind of politician.” (The fact that Clinton isn’t different and would not accept public financing herself does not apparently deter her from making the point that Obama is no better than the average pol.)

As to the latter issue, this is not exactly a replay of Joe Biden’s plagiarism of Neil Kinnock. In that case, Biden was in essence cribbing someone else’s life story. In the case, however, the slip seems potentially more damaging and does make Clinton’s point for her: anyone can (and many do) give nice speeches, but that doesn’t make them presidential material. It is, on its face, a small matter, but it goes to the heart of one of her main criticisms of Obama. If she can begin to expand on this theme (i.e. What has he really done? And are clever rock videos and soaring rhetoric the right measure by which we assess candidates?) without looking mean or petty she has an opening–albeit a small one.



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