The president's State of the Union address may not have been an entirely original piece of work, says presidential scholar Alvin Felzenberg at U.S. News & World Report. The columnist accuses President Obama of "cutting and pasting" moments from speeches by Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and others. The address "contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince," says Felzenberg. Does he have a case? (Hear radio host Mark Levin echo the charges)
Yes. Obama is running out of rhetorical steam: Whatever you think of Obama's politics, says Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner, you have to admit that his speeches have shown "genuine rhetorical greatness." But now the president is "cribbing" bits of that rhetoric from others. Perhaps it's "difficult not to lean on others for inspiration" when writing such "rhetorical bloat" as a State of the Union address — but it is a "bit sad" to do it so blatantly.
"Was Obama's State of the Union address plagiarism?"
No, it was just bland: "Paraphrasing is not plagiarism," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Presidents make strikingly similar, generalized calls for greatness every year. If Obama is a plagiarist, then "so is practically everyone else in politics, especially in the Tea Party." Yes, the speech was "rather dull." But plagiarized? Certainly not.
"Plagiarism in the SOTU"
All political quotes sound the same: The "striking coincidences" and "parallel constructions" Felzenberg points out amount to nothing, says Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times. "No patent exists on such common, trite phrases as 'the time for action is now!'" or the "ever annoying 'moving forward.'" Given our political history, "there are likely few words or combinations of words that remain truly original."
"Was that plagiarism in Obama's State of the Union?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- Don't change a thing: 8 inventions that never needed updating
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
Subscribe to the Week