Video: Did Obama really crib SOTU passages from … George W. Bush?

posted at 12:41 pm on January 29, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Has Barack Obama gone from blaming Bush to stealing from him? Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, now a Washington Post columnist, told Megyn Kelly that Obama’s State of the Union speech sounded oddly familiar to him — and then realized it’s because he wrote some of its best lines. Only Thiessen says he wrote them in 2007, for Bush’s SOTU. But does the record actually reflect that? Er, not exactly (via Jeff Dunetz):

Kelly: Our next guest says he liked the president’s speech in some ways – because he wrote something very similar for President Bush back in 2007. Former presidential speechwriter Marc Thiessen, now with AEI, joins me now from Washington. Did the president crib off of George W. Bush, is that what you’re saying?​

Thiessen: Yeah, it was eerily familiar. 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 that all our citizens have affordable and available healthcare. 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.

Kelly: Did you the write that speech? Is that why it was familiar to you?

Thiessen: I was the lead writer on that, yeah. That was the first state of the union that I was the lead writer on, and I was listening to Obama today, and I was like, “Good grief, that’s uh, that’s awfully familiar.”

Kelly: “This is great stuff! This is brilliant! He’s selling me!” [laughs]

Well, let’s check the record with the transcript. Obama’s speech contains twelve instances of the word “opportunity,” with one in particular sounding a similar theme. “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,” Obama said. That shares the theme from Bush’s speech, in which the then-President stated: “ 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.”

Other instances of “opportunity” in Obama’s speech don’t really align well with Thiessen’s other notes. For instance, there is no mention of “opportunity” in conjunction with health care or energy. Nor is there any mention at all of a “future of hope,” only one mention of “a future of greater security and prosperity” in relation to our foreign policy in the Pacific Rim. Two others relate to Iran’s “opportunity” to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

I think Thiessen, who wrote excellent speeches in his time at the White House, might be too attuned to his own work here and heard similarities where none really existed. To a large extent, his sensitivity to the emphasis on “opportunity” is understandable; Bush made opportunity one of his major themes, especially when Thiessen was his main speechwriter, although the “ownership society” was a more prominent projection of that theme. But Bush is hardly the first President to have highlighted opportunity as a theme, and as we saw last night, he won’t be the last.

A better observation would be just how little of last night’s speech was novel at all. Presidents often borrow from predecessors for themes, and National Journal’s George Condon noted on Monday that Obama’s “year of action” comes directly from Richard Nixon, and borrow from themselves to develop a narrative arc. Obama, though, just repeated his same old policy prescriptions ad infinitum, as if we’d never heard them before and as if he hasn’t been President for the last five years of failure. He’s cribbing from himself.

Update: Minor edit to correct grammar in last paragraph.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Yeah, this is much ado about nothing.

GOPRanknFile on January 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Who cares? He was more down-trodden than chimpey could ever be.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:43 PM

(which I missed due to an schedule conflict intentional long and arduous walk)

I did see the last 10 mins., because the pretending Bill Clinton hadn’t shut up yet.

A few thoughts:

1. He looked tired and beaten, like an exhausted child, who’s way in over his head.

2. The lady who gave the R rebuttal was a disaster, with the best intentions.

3. obama honored the super-rich and old gay player, ahead of honoring the blind Veteran, a disgusting move, intended to force the House to clap interminably, so as to cover up the tiny pajama-obama.

4. Michelle looked like an inverted open parachute. Who dresses this fat child? They have it all wrong.

5. From assessments this morning obama lied or omitted the huuuuge disaster all of his foreign policy, or nonexistence of it is.

6. From assessments this morning he lied about obama’care’ or omitted the disaster.

Hence, while no one said so “YOU lie” is the truest thing ever told about tiny obama.

Two more of these, God willing.

p.s. obama the swine, and all in the chamber, clapped and clapped and clapped, the faux “we love the military and our Veterans”, while the oaf in chief talked about “we need to help them find jobs”, Ryan, Reid and him having just cut the monthly income of Veterans, and being in the process of down-sizing the Military, due to social engineering and wasting your taxes on more welfare queens.

This was the biiiiig elephant in the room, at the end, Michelle’s butt/parachute/dress notwithstanding.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM

proves obama never had an original thought

ConservativePartyNow on January 29, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Not to miss this national travesty.

The father/son should not have appeared with such. It diminishes the Veterans, dead and alive, and the Soldiers too.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:47 PM

This just in:

Paul Ryan all in with Dems on Amnesty!!

HOORAY!!!!!!!!!

Boy, I’ll tell you what!

That Romney braintrust suuuuuuure did their homework
when they made their VP pick, unlike McCain…
What say you Wisconsin about this man??

ToddPA on January 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

This just in:

Paul Ryan all in with Dems on Amnesty!!

HOORAY!!!!!!!!!

ToddPA on January 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

To Hades with all the amnesty and ins. co. bailout traitors. Go ahead, punks.

Pelosi will be Speaker, deservedly, in Jan. 2015.

The leftist, whoever they are, will be president in 2017.

The GOP will be dust, for good.

You can buy lottery tickets based on this, fools.

You need to learn the hard way.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:50 PM

It’s not that his speech is the same as W’s speech, it’s that all SotU speeches (and most political speeches in general) are just rehashing the same material ad infinitum

The Schaef on January 29, 2014 at 12:52 PM

ToddPA on January 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Funny how the news items of actual interest are no longer posted on this site, ain’t it? Might be comin’ up on time to look elsewhere….

ElectricPhase on January 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Hot Air is now officially “Hot Air From The Left”.

bgibbs1000 on January 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM

OT, or on, as all things add up these days…not reported by anyone – The Baltic Dry Index fell by 50% in the last 6 weeks. It’s an indicator of goods being moved around the world, by ships.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Well, eventually it’s hard to say nothing.

Cindy Munford on January 29, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Might be comin’ up on time to look elsewhere….

ElectricPhase on January 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Read this. Now it’s here. Don’t mope, just do something about what’s missing. You’re still a free American.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Mike Lee tea party response: Barack Obama at fault for inequality

…and it has nothing to do with Bush-chimpey.

obama lamented a lot of things, missing the fact that he was talking about his own presidency…kindergarten in America, or America-the-kindergarten.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Obama, though, just repeated his same old policy prescriptions ad infinitum, as if we’d never heard them before and as if he hasn’t been President for the last five years of failure. He’s cribbing from himself.

State of the Union speeches used to be the opportunity to lay out policy decisions. Last night we heard the same old policy decisions that have never come to fruition. Closing Gitmo and giving amnesty to illegals are hardly new ideas.

State of the Union speeches used to be about seeking common cause with Congress and the American people for some shared vision. Last night we saw the rat-eared wonder dare Congress to defy his will and gave the middle finger to the American public.

State of the Union speeches were never designed to use military heroes as props even as Obama is looting military pensions, cutting military health programs, and otherwise abusing servicemen and veterans.

State of the Union speeches of the past would never have the criminals known as illegal aliens sitting in the gallery as honored guests of the FLOTUS.

Bottom line, last night’s SOTU was as small and pathetic as the worthless human being standing before TOTUS. It was a speech beneath the prestige of the office but what else is new?

Happy Nomad on January 29, 2014 at 1:00 PM

ToddPA on January 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Funny how the news items of actual interest are no longer posted on this site, ain’t it? Might be comin’ up on time to look elsewhere….

ElectricPhase on January 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Bingo.

Which is why I posted this on this thread…the time is coming
where we, the Average Republican in the land, are being laughed
at for what we feel is important….yeah I know, novel thought.

ToddPA on January 29, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 12:58 PM

You are a worthy asset here at HA, and you are right, we all can add what is missing and talk about it!

Thanks for the many many quality links you provide for our discourse :)

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM

The near future

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Today in the WH

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Thank you, Scrumps…minor stuff…whining is for sissies :)

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Probably. I’d expect nothing less from Trayvon’s “dad” and role model.

viking01 on January 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Nothing surprises me any more Schad, can you remind me where it is exactly I am living? Is this America? (rhetorical) :)

Mike Lees’ response was a breath of fresh air.

The LSM will not cover it except to pick it apart and not detail the whole thing, the times we live in are becoming more and more perilous day by day…

I pray for more souls to come forth and SPEAK OUT and UP!

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM

It is the small things that contribute to seeing the big picture!

People have a hard time discerning anything these days, myself included, so I am grateful for the snippets that you find :)

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Video: Did Obama really crib SOTU passages from … George W. Bush?

Not enough to claim plagiarism, far too much to claim originality.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 29, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Nothing surprises me any more Schad, can you remind me where it is exactly I am living? Is this America? (rhetorical) :)

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Even if it was rhetorical, you now live in the USSA.

“Third world” will soon be a compliment.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Coming from the EU/UK I SEE the handwriting on the wall my friend. I do not like it, and feel helpless and so, unfortunately, I choose to not ‘see’ it all happening, it is in our faces all the time, and when someone tries to say/do somthing, the left shoots them down and the sheeple, who know not what they voted for, just go along to get along, and it is frightening.
In the long run, the America I grew up to know is fading fast…

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Putting all the pieces together is a task, it is there for all to see, but who bothers nowadays, not many, sad to say…

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Moving on :)

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Putting all the pieces together is a task, it is there for all to see, but who bothers nowadays, not many, sad to say…

Scrumpy on January 29, 2014 at 1:34 PM

The land of the free sheep!

…in the majority, from both sides :(

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Well, again, you’re underestimating the president. Bold prediction: this will be one of the most interesting, passionate and debated state of the union addresses in history.

People mistake Obama’s coolness for apathy. And they’re always wrong.

Tom_Shipley on January 28, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2014 at 2:34 PM