SMASHMOUTH POLITICS: The ‘Silly Season’ Begins

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NEW YORK TIMES: Senator Barack Obama adapted one of his signature arguments — that his oratory amounts to more than inspiring words — from speeches given by Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts during his 2006 campaign. At a Democratic Party dinner Saturday in Wisconsin, Mr. Obama, of Illinois, responded to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who has criticized him for delivering smooth speeches but says they do not amount to solutions to the nation’s problems, byhillaryhitler.jpg ticking through a string of historic references.

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” Mr. Obama said, to applause. “ ‘I have a dream’ — just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — just words? ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’ — just words? Just speeches?” Mr. Patrick employed similar language during his 2006 governor’s race when his Republican rival, Kerry Healey, criticized him as offering lofty rhetoric over specifics. Mr. Patrick has endorsed Mr. Obama, and the two men are close friends. “ ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — just words? Just words?” Mr. Patrick said one month before his election. “ ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’ — just words? ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ Just words? ‘I have a dream’ — just words?”

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Patrick said that he and Mr. Obama first talked about the attacks from their respective rivals last summer, when Mrs. Clinton was raising questions about Mr. Obama’s experience, and that they discussed them again last week. Both men had anticipated that Mr. Obama’s rhetorical strength would provide a point of criticism. Mr. Patrick said he told Mr. Obama that he should respond to the criticism, and he shared language from his campaign with Mr. Obama’s speechwriters. MORE

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RELATED: Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass. In a conference call Saturday, the longtime Democratic Party member contended the DNC should reconsider its tough sanctions on the two states, which held early contests in violation of party rules. He said millions of voters in Michigan and Florida would be otherwise disenfranchised – before acknowledging moments later that he had weasel.giffavored the sanctions. Ickes explained that his different position essentially is due to the different hats he wears as both a DNC member and a Clinton adviser in charge of delegate counting. Clinton won the primary vote in Michigan and Florida, and now she wants those votes to count.

In response, the Obama campaign said Ickes’ viewpoint runs counter to democratic principles. “The Clinton campaign just said they have two options for trying to win the nomination – attempt to have superdelegates overturn the will of the Democratic voters or change the rules they agreed to at the 11th hour in order to seat nonexistent delegates from Florida and Michigan,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “The Clinton campaign should focus on winning pledged delegates as a result of elections, not these say-or-do-anything-to-win tactics that could undermine Democrats’ ability to win the general election.”

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