Obama's rhetoric recycling

What's really remarkable about the ongoing Barack Obama "plagiarism" scandal is this: Obama's campaign had ample reason to think his channeling of Deval Patrick would be an issue--and they kept doing it anyway.

Let's recap. The New York Times Magazine discussed the rhetorical resemblance between Obama and Patrick in April 2007. The Boston Globe picked up the subject a couple weeks later--starting with an example that anticipates, to an eerie degree, what just got Obama into trouble. (Prescient stuff, Scott Helman!)

Then, last month, the Globe broached the subject again. So did the Associated Press (I'm still looking for the link.) And after itemizing seven specific Obama-Patrick parallels, I warned that this striking resemblance could erode the electorate's faith in Obama's authenticity.

But Obama kept right on going--either because he didn't think this issue would blow up, or because he literally couldn't stop.

Which brings us to the question of just how important political consultant David Axelrod is. Because both Patrick and Obama are Axelrod clients, the Clinton camp's plagiarism charge rings false. The real question, I think, is where Axelrod's thoughts and convictions end and Obama's and Patrick's begin.

Or, to put it differently: could Obama not sound like Patrick if he wanted to?

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