Prosecute the torture.

February 2, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

I guess I have to ask it again:
Doesn't anyone at the P-G fact-check Jack Kelly?
Why am I asking this, yet again?

Because this showed up in today's column:
But his small ball, recycled initiatives — he even plagiarized lines from Mr. Bush’s 2007 SOTU, according to former Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen...
Except he didn't.  Thiessen was wrong and Jack is wrong for passing it along.

Let me show you why.

According to David Weigel of
This one comes from Fox News, which hosted former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen after he claimed that President Obama's speech had been lifted from the 2007 State of the Union.
The link above leads to this Breitbart page. Here's what it says:
Following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, former George W. Bush speechwriter Mark Thiessen told Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” host Megyn Kelly that Obama’s speech plagiarized lines from Bush’s 2007 speech, for which he said he was the lead speechwriter.

“It was eerily familiar,” Thiessen said. “There were lines like, ‘Our job is to help Americans build a future of hope and opportunity. A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy. A future of hope and opportunity requires our citizens have affordable and available health care.’ ‘Extending opportunity and hope depends on a stable supply of energy.’ All of that came from the 2007 State of the Union address by George W. Bush. So, Barack Obama has gone from blaming George W. bush to plagiarizing George W. Bush.”[Emphasis added.]
Ok, so let's go to Obama's State of The Union Address to see if those lines are actually in there.

Guess what?  They're not.

Weigel's done almost all of the heavy lifting here, so I'll just add a few details of my own.

Asserted plagiarism #1 ("Our job is to help Americans build a future of hope and opportunity.")  And to that Weigel writes:
This appears in the Bush speech: "Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them to build a future of hope and opportunity—and this is the business before us tonight." Nothing like it appears in the Obama speech—the closest is "Opportunity is who we are."
In fact, the only time the phrase "our job" shows up in Obama's SOTU is in response to this passage:
Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.
To which the President follows:
Our job is to reverse these trends. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.[Emphasis added.]
That's it.  That's the overlap - and it's hardly plagiarism.  No mention of "hope" in that section Bush's SOTU, by the way.  How telling.

Asserted plagiarism #2 ("A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy -- and that is what we have.").  And to that Weigel writes:
That's the next line in the Bush speech. Nothing like it appears in the Obama speech. He doesn't even use the phrase "growing economy."
In fact there's only one use of the word "hope" and it's in this sentence:
That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.  [Emphasis added.]
No overlap here at all.

Asserted plagiarism #3 ("Extending opportunity and hope depends on a stable supply of energy.").  And to that, Weigel writes:
Also in the Bush speech. Obama—see the pattern?—does not repeat this. He says instead that "one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy," which is a similar sentiment. In fact there's no usage of the phrase "extending opportunity" or "stable supply of energy."  In fact the word "stable" shows up only once in Obama's speech at all.  Here:
But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.
Again, no overlap, no plagiarism.

Now if you wanna talk about something far closer to actual plagiarism, I bring up something I wrote five and a half years ago.  The P-G's Jack Kelly wrote this about then-Governor Sarah Palin:
When she was leading her underdog Wasilla high school basketball team to the state championship in 1982, her teammates called her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her fierce competitiveness. Two years later, when she won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, she was also voted Miss Congeniality by the other contestants.
Compare that to something Fred Barnes wrote a year or so before:
Gov. Palin grew up in Wasilla, where as star of her high school basketball team she got the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for her fierce competitiveness. She led her underdog team to the state basketball championship. Palin also won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest, in which she was named Miss Congeniality, and went on to compete in the Miss Alaska pageant.
Jack, that's far closer to actual plagiarism than anything Marc Theissen alleged.  And you did that.

I'll ask it again:
Doesn't anyone at the P-G fact-check Jack Kelly?
I guess the answer is, "no, not so much."

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