On the Daily Show today they played clips from Obama’s speech followed by clips from Bush’s speech(es?), showing that some of Obama’s wording was taken, in some cases exactly, in others very closely, from some passages from the Bush speech(es?)
My question is, exactly how does this happen? They don’t share speechwriters I’m assuming. Do all of Obama’s words in these speeches come directly from his speechwriters, or do his writers serve sometimes as filters for words written by adminstrative agencies? Or what?
No idea, but I’d guess that it’s largely a matter that the job itself requires you to approach things in a particular way. A president doesn’t make decrees so much he mediates conflict among the hundreds (or hundreds of millions) of people all tugging on him. There’s a specific envelope in which he has freedom of movement, but outside of it, his latitude disappears sizably.
Or perhaps there are legal reasons to phrase things in certain ways. Obama is working in the same legal environment that Bush is, so that might drive certain ways of stating things. The ubiquity of the “Immanent Threat” phrase from the leadup to the Iraq War was because of that.
Also much harder to accuse Obama of the change from Bush’s policies that he promised during the campaign when he’s using the exact same language to state them. As an Obama voter, I find this disappointing.
Probably because Obama and Bush are talking about the same sorts of things, and share most of their values. Not because the Republican and Democratic parties aren’t different. They are. They value the same things, and have different beliefs about the best way to achieve them.
Plus, American political rhetoric uses a number of stock phrases and ideas. They are always going to talk about the bravery of our men and women in uniform, point with pride to our history, condemn terrorism, etc. That’s standard-issue boilerplate.
Bush and Obama are both graduates of the elite universities, both Christian, they are part (now) of the Washington culture, and are doing the same job. Of course they are going to give speeches that have a lot of the same phrases and content.
Also, the excerpts were all from different speeches. Bush has said a lot of stuff over the years, comb through enough old footage and you can generally find something that sounds similar to something else.