I’m a big fan of Alexander Hamilton — though there is an article on the top of my reading pile that takes on some of us Hamilton-huggers. I was amazed by how prolific, articulate, pragmatic and sensible Hamilton was. Indeed, there is an old adage: “Washington Reigned. Hamilton Ruled. And Jefferson complained.”
But there was a phase in American history when lots of folks purloined Hamiltonisms and used them as their own in early 20th century American politics.
But that said, I wanted to share this odd little YouTube item that a friend just sent. I guess the moment that I left for Japan, this Deval Patrick/Barack Obama battle over “borrowed words” broke out — and I haven’t followed it closely. I will ‘try’ to see whether there is any there there when I get back to town — but it’s not the kind of thing that interest me.
Here is the video clip though:
I want to be fair and balanced in this not too deep critique of the current battles over whether Obama has stolen Deval’s politicking material. Maybe Obama’s campaign really is gathering and adopting style, tone, and veneer from other campaigns. Not sure why it matters — other than showing he is less authentic than the marketers would like all to believe.
But Hillary Clinton also borrowed an idea from me once without attribution — but that’s supposed to be what we think tank types hope happens.
But the odd thing about this is that after my original article appeared and was written about and referenced in lead editorials of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and (I think) the Wall Street Journal, and literally mentioned in dozens of other editorials around the country and in many follow up opeds — and House and Senate hearings with Colin Powell and mentioned as well by Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer and UN Iraq Chief Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Oh wait, and yes — Senators Mary Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski offered a non-binding resolution that passed in the Senate right after my New York Times article appeared — referencing it in their speeches on the subject — and on which Hillary Clinton voted affirmatively.
If one even googles “Alaska Permanent Fund” and Iraq, my stuff is the first referenced.
Despite all this, Clinton and Senator John Ensign co-authored a Wall Street Journal oped making a point similar to mine that we needed an “Alaska Permanent Fund” approach to helping to build a set of new winners and new stakeholders among the citizens of Iraq. There was no acknowledgment of the New America Foundation’s efforts — but more importantly within the Senate chambers, no acknowledgment that Mary Landrieu and Lisa Murkowski had already hatched that baby.
This was one of my more vain moments actually — and I couldn’t believe that someone I liked in the Senate was launching something that had a preceding history in the world of think tankism and in the Senate. I spoke to someone in her office who said “Sorry. . .but Hillary really thought it was her own idea. . .”
So basically, I’m glad she borrowed the concept in any case — but I think both sides need to be careful about how deep the accusations of intellectual property “borrowing without acknowledgment” go.
And yes I know — borrowing rhetoric for a national campaign — “stealing words as some want to say” — is a much higher priority than a revenue-sharing scheme that might have altered the way Iraqi citizens felt about their ‘temporary’ Occupiers and their own stakes in taking their country forward.
— Steve Clemons