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Friday, February 22, 2008

Barbara Jordan's true legacy

Last night both Obama and Clinton invoked the late Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan's legacy of deep conviction. Then the two candidates declared their shared commitment to the idea that open borders are the best borders. Barbara Jordan would have been appalled. Over a decade ago she called for eliminating chain migration, ending the nonsensical Visa Lottery program, and enforcing tight deportation policies for all border/visa violators, not just illegal aliens convicted of aggravated felonies and other crimes. Jordan also opposed welfare payments to illegals, and fought hard for employer sanctions. Here's how she put it:
"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; those who should not be here will be required to leave."
The Democratic Party of Barbara Jordan was not the Democratic Party of Obama and Clinton.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Obama's Oratory

Hillary's accusation that Obama stole key phrases from speeches by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is significant because it has the potential to strike at the heart of Obama's central political asset, namely the widespread perception (held even by those who don't share his views) that he's a "man of integrity."
Is it acceptable to borrow language from another politician, without attribution, and then, when called out, explain it by saying that the guy who first spoke the words said I could use it? The fact that Deval himself laughs off the accusation and supports Obama's use of the material takes a lot of the edge off Clinton's charge. Will some black voters view Hillary's accusation as yet another playing of the race card? ("Tell the white girl to leave the two brothers alone.")
The key political question is whether Hillary's punch will resonate with upper income, well educated white voters who comprise a significant portion of Obama's coalition. On the eve of Wisconsin's pivotal primary, will Madison liberals with masters and doctoral degrees view Obama's use of Patrick's words as "plagiarism" or as a matter of rhetorical resonance between two articulate African American politicians? Much will depend on how both campaigns spin the issue in the hours before Wisconsin voters go to the polls. And on whether the mainstream media sides with Obama or Clinton. 
As usual, Clinton's argument comes with no small degree of hypocrisy. She shamelessly lifted these phrases from Obama: "It's time to turn the page," "I'm fired up and ready to go," and "Yes we can!" 
UPDATE: Obama has acknowledged he "should have" credited Patrick. Will Hillary make the same concession to Obama? Put your overcoat on when that happens. It will be a frigid day in hell.