Monday, February 18, 2008

Obama plagiarism allegations... Do we deserve this from Hillary?

When does it end?

Seriously, I want to know. When does it fucking end? My patience is short and my optimism wanes. When are we going to be better?

When does it end?

When do we stop lying about those with whom we compete? When do we take pause consider our means as well as our ends? When do we stop pandering to simplicity and stupidity? When do we decide to treat each other decently and to plan without intellectual dishonesty?


Obviously, today isn't the day. Today, Hillary Clinton pulled the assassin's trigger. Her target? Her opponent's character.

Today, Barack Obama is a plagiarist. Hillary's people said so. Today, he's a fucking scumbag who's been dealing the drug of false hope while Senator Clinton's been worried about the "real problems" facing this country. That's today's headline, as designed by Camp Clinton.

Today, the media dutifully reports the bullshit accusations of a Hillary loyalist. They turned over their gate-keeping responsibilities long ago, opting instead to parrot the press releases and conference call comments of surrogates. They played their everyday game. They did just what the campaign maestros undoubtedly predicted as Wisconsin got colder. The media is amusing us and itself to death by inspiring rhetorical, but all too gladiatorial, bloodlettings.

Today, Hillary's supporters are serving up heaping helpings of "I told you so" pie to anyone who might support Barack Obama's candidacy. They're feigning shock and explaining why a baseless accusation from a campaign tool proves that only Hillary can save the country, using the most superficial of logic and throwing all pretense of intellectual honesty aside. They're doing the wrong thing, some knowingly, others stupidly.

Today, we're indulging our old vices. We're calling names. We're pretending to be infallible. We're conjuring up moral outrage without introspection, examination or evidence that would actually support our accusations. We're triangulating and denigrating. We're fighting and bickering. We're doing our usual thing.

Today, we suck. It's shameful.

We deserve what we get. As a nation, we really do. We like to complain about everything while taking responsibility for nothing. It's time to admit the responsibility. It's time to cop to our offenses and recognize that our multiple punishments stem from our pathetic behavior.

We've worked hard to transform reality into a game. We like to keep the rules simple. It's "gotcha". It's quick strikes. It's immediacy over legitimacy and convenience over honesty. We've reduced the process of self-government to pure entertainment. We aren't citizen-governors. We aren't informed electors. We're TV viewers who get upset when a debate doesn't result in rage, calling it a "Love Fest" and making jokes about singing refrains of Kumbaya. We're consumers, not participants.

I can't wait to see Wolf Blitzer's national delegate chart again. I love the zoom feature. I can't wait to see another focus group twist dials so I know what people like instead of learning what might be true.

We have "political junkies", people who've abandoned skin flicks on Cinemax, preferring to be fucked over and over again by Bill O'Reilly to watching actors copulate.

Political junkies. Think about that. We're not talking about policy junkies. Political junkies. People hooked on watching the process because it gives them a rush. Not a rush of pride or a glorious embrace from freedom. No, we're talking about a love of conflict.

We reduce campaigns to wrestling pay per view events, don't we? In this corner, from Little Rock Arkansas, wearing the yellow and black pantsuit, the Shrew, the Bitch, the Cold calculator, the one who's ready on day one, HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON.... In this corner, training in Chicago but from all over the world, wearing the standard suit and tie, the Orator, the Silver Tongued Devil, the hopemonger who believes he can, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA!!!!!

Is anyone else disgusted? Or are you just thinking about what snacks to eat while you watch the Wisconsin returns tomorrow?

When does it end?

Today is President's Day. How's that for a bit of irony? We're marking the occasion by watching a candidate who would rather sacrifice her own integrity and the integrity of the process pursue the Presidency with a reckless abandon that defies imagination. We're watching desperate quick-score lashouts in the form of degrading allegations. That's where we are today.

Today we deserve Hillary Clinton. We deserve to be far removed from a place called Hope. We deserve what's coming to us. We continue to play the bullshit game and we deserve to take the eventual beating it inevitably produces. We deserve someone who accuses their opponent of plagiarism while defending her own similar acts because she never claimed to be a good speaker. Seriously, this is where we are.

I'm not going to discuss the plagiarism allegation at length today. I don't have the energy. Maybe I'll do it some other time. Today, I'm just going to ask that anyone who might stumble across this entry who actually believes Barack Obama is a plagiarist in any real sense to take some time to actually research the subject. That doesn't mean reading fifty variations of the same half-assed news story. That doesn't mean listening to campaign surrogates snip and yell at each other on a cable news network. It means developing a firm understanding of plagiarism, what it really is and why it really matters. I invite those who are currently believing the Lie of the Day to do better.

They won't. Hell, I wouldn't. I just happen to have some expertise in this topic. Past professional experiences have given me a certain level of expertise. I've (quite literally) written the book on matters of copyright and plagiarism. I know that most people don't understand key concepts and won't be bothered to learn them. They'll base their decisions on theater and gut.

And they'll deserve what they get. We all will, really.

When does it end? How long are we going to play the same twisted game--a game that only benefits singular winners and that actually harms most of its participants? When are we going to try harder and do better?

When will we set aside bullshit point-scoring and misinformed righteous indignation just long enough to really examine an issue? When will we finally get to the point where we can expect the unholy alliance that creates, packages, recites and interprets our news to do better?

When? It sure as fuck isn't today.

I'm disgusted.

Yet I think there is a small chance of something valuable and meaningful coming out of this otherwise squandered day in politics. There's a chance, albeit not a very big one, that the aggrieved party in this silly tale of plagiarism might be able to live up to his bargain and his goals. If he does, tomorrow can be a good day.

I'll be watching Barack Obama carefully. I want to see if he can do better.

If he doesn't, I'll understand. I'll be disappointed, but I'll understand.

Here's a great test of hope for you, Barack. Here's a great opportunity to display your commitment to an alternative to all of this bullshit.

The ball's in your court. You got next. My fingers are crossed.


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1 comment:

  1. Dude, your posts have been awesome. I just haven't known where to start responding.

    This is a completely bullshit story if you read up anything on it. The guy he's accused of borrowing lines from initiates the suggestion that he uses the lines. It's complete bullshit. Bill Clinton and I'm sure Hillary Clinton give a million speeches written entirely by others (one of those speechwriters was our dear ol' speech and debate coach, Chris Leland). Barack Obama uses a couple lines written by a guy who suggests he uses them and the Clinton's play this bullshit game.

    You are so right, dude. If people fall for this shit, they deserve the consequences it produces. I've watched really smart academics I respect support the Clinton campaign despite all of this bullshit and I hardly believe it when I see this kind of stinkiness making the headlines.

    And the big question that you get at is, "At what point will we begin talking about substantive matters seriously and end this bullshit as if it is more honest a discussion than it really is? At what point will we expect better?"

    It's a lot of smart people who have decided that most people are too stupid to make the big decisions, anyway, so we're just going to play games until we can get in office and make the decisions for them. Which is the condescension that sums up Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Presidency.

    It's disgustingly high and mighty - literally. And, of course, it's bad for us.

    And the idea that dumbasses in America would drink this bullshit elixir and call it clean and healthy is a sign of just how distorted our notions of what is good in politics and life is.

    If Democrats elect Hillary Clinton, they deserve her and all of the various ills that will follow hence.

    I have a feeling they won't. The tide is slowly but surely shifting. And the Clinton strategy smells of desperation, and that's just not a strategy that can survive for very long. Even if it survives a primary cycle, it can't survive much longer than that, I don't think. Maybe Democrats need to lose, if that is the case. Or maybe the country needs to deal with the consequences until they/we wisen up.

    But something tells me, given our tragectory and the trendlines, that that isn't going to happen. That Obama campaign has already overcome far more than I ever would have anticipated 6 months or a year ago.

    Hillary's in trouble. Today's tactic demonstrates that weakness.

    And the weak can only fuck over the more genuinely strong for so long before more honest strength bears its fruit.

    I better get to bed, dude. I'll try to respond to your other comments as soon as I get a chance.