In 2008, when then candidate Barack Obama was caught up in a plagiarism scandal for using the words of Deval Patrick, his opponent Hillary Clinton’s chief criticism of him at the time was that he was “just words.”
His critics, even of the Left, seized upon the theme, “But if Obama’s words are somebody else’s, and do not spring from his own inspirational story, then they become as irrelevant and hollow as a Super Bowl Budweiser feel-good commercial.”
Fast-forward to today and Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post seems to be all but admitting the same thing – though somehow, it’s almost a virtue and not a vice?
Remember that his political power was built on speech-giving. All of the most important moments in his political career were speeches: his “dumb wars” speech in 2002, his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, his Iowa Jefferson-Jackson dinner speech in late 2007, his Jeremiah Wright speech in spring 2008 — and so on and so forth.
And now we’re told Obama is about “deeds,” and not “words.” Would that be deeds, as in backing away from executive action on immigration due to political concerns, or having absolutely no strategy to combat the ongoing dangerous rise of Islamic extremism?
For many of his most ardent supporters, Obama’s unwillingness to play the game of politics endears him. He believes in deeds not words, they argue. Fine. But, as even Obama said on Sunday, how things look can — and often does — influence how things are.
Somehow not even Obama’s defenders seem to be able to find the words to detail the deeds which is supposed to be about. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for Obama himself to find and deliver the right words, instead.