Of all the things Deval Patrick's Republican opponent threw at him in last year's governor's race, one charge that stuck in his craw was that his speeches were more fluff than substance -- that they were, in Patrick's telling, "just words." So he devised an artful response.The most important thing isn't whether Obama took some words from Patrick.But,the ideas.When you hear from a candidate about Saul Alinsky in a positive way,you know there's more radicalism to come.Here's a quote from Obama about himself in college:
" 'We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal' -- just words," Patrick said at a rally in Roxbury right before Election Day. " 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' -- just words. . . . 'I have a dream' -- just words. They're all just words."
The crowd erupted as it got Patrick's point about the power of language. But perhaps no one at the rally understood the point better than Barack Obama, who had joined him on stage that night.
Not five months later, Obama, his presidential campaign gaining steam, had this to say about legendary Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky in The New Republic: "Sometimes the tendency in community organizing of the sort done by Alinsky was to downplay the power of words and of ideas when in fact ideas and words are pretty powerful. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, all men are created equal.' Those are just words. 'I have a dream.' Just words."
In the midst of his improbable run for office, Obama and his advisers have evidently studied Patrick's up-from-nowhere victory in Massachusetts and are borrowing themes, messages, and even specific lines for the presidential campaign.
It's the latest chapter in a symbiotic friendship between Obama and Patrick
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully.The more politically active black students.The foreign students.The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets.At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism,Franz Fanon,Eurocentrism,and patriarchy.When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake,we were resisting bourgeois society's stifling constraints.We weren't indifferent or careless or insecure.We were alienated.Obama sure knows a lot about being radical.