February 18, 2008

Obama's Familiar Quotations

With apologies to Bartlett's.

Video removed after the 2008 primaries

This set of videoclip comparisons begins with words used often by Obama when he's speaking in the South, including in Mississippi, where Obama explained his understandable reactions to the premature but strategically superdelegate-targeted idea of a duo-run, when Clinton said that the crowd "may" be able to get the two of them someday, depending on how things turn out.  My early dating of this entry is to place it with the Alice Walker entry, above.  She writes that she borrowed
"We are the ones we've been waiting for"  from June Jordan's (1980 poem), with attribution, and Maria Shriver draws attention to the Hopi Indians'  use of the phrase in Yr2000.

When I first heard the words, I thought they were especially apt, speaking to a sense of one's own power and responsibility to make change.  I was surprised to see that they had an interesting history but hadn't been attributed to anyone.

The opening words of the videoclip (and those same words in Mississippi in March '08)  echo Spike Lee's portrait of Malcolm X, as spoken by Denzel Washington, in the powerful movie from 1992.   Obama enjoys cautioning these groups that "they're" trying to "hoodwink you ... bamboozle you" - not my own idea of 'new' politicking, and it actually plays with identity politics.

My sense of Obama has been that his politics tend to be "old," although he would like to shift into a form of  'better'  politics.  While much was made of the "Just words"  borrowing or emulation of Deval Patrick's older speech, which had been a response to similar criticism received in Massachusetts by Patrick, less familiar is the almost exact wording of the "your aspirations" passage, which Obama reads haltingly.  I've been bothered by his seldom attributing material he borrows from others.  The videoclip also compares his overall effect on crowds to evangelistic dynamics.  Even avid Obama supporters have enjoyed that send-up page.


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