With controversy surrounding Melania Trump being accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic Convention for her own speech last night at the Cleveland RNC, it’s important to note there was a moment when President Obama plagiarized former President George W. Bush.
President George W. Bush’s former speech writer said that President Barack Obama plagiarized his former boss in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
Speaking to Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, Marc Thiessen, the lead writer on Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address, said he found Obama’s speech Tuesday night “eerily familiar.”
“Barack Obama has gone from blaming George W. Bush to plagiarizing George W. Bush,” Thiessen said.
Thiessen then read phrases from the 2007 speech which focused on the theme “hope and opportunity.”
“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 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 from George W. Bush,” Thiessen said.
A quick text compare shows that no lines were directly lifted from Bush’s 2007 speech in the one Obama gave on Tuesday. There are some minor similarities between the two: Obama use a version of the word “opportunity” more than ten times in his speech, Bush used the word at least eight times. Both speeches also ended with a moving story about a wounded veteran.
In an email, Thiessen said Obama pivoted from the liberal theme of income inequality to a conservative theme of opportunity.
“Of course, [Obama] has a very different understanding of opportunity. He believes the path to opportunity is through more government; conservatives believe the path to opportunity is more enterprise,” Thiessen wrote.
Asked if he was actually accusing the president of plagiarism, Thiessen replied, “Seriously? Get some sleep” and linked to a column he wrote in the Washington Post from September, where he said Obama lifted much of a speech about Syria from Bush.
State of the Union speeches often follow similar themes. As our colleague Reid Epstein wrote ahead of Tuesday’s speech, “[Obama’s] State of the Union remarks, like those of his presidential predecessors over the past two decades or so, have all followed roughly the same template.”