Official Blog of Bannon Leadership Consulting Founder Shawn Bannon

Stealing Style and Substance … Plagiarism or Just Politics?

A lot of comparisons have been made between 2020 presidential hopeful, former North Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former President Barack Obama. Their youth. Questions of whether or not they had the requisite experience to be president. A Washington Post story a few weeks ago took a deep dive into the similarities and the degree to which it seems Mayor Pete is attempting to run the Obama playbook despite his protestations to presidential competitor and former Vice President Joe Biden that the Obama (with Joe Biden in tow) was right for 2008 but that the country has moved on and he is the answer to what ails America in 2020.

Then, in the last day or so, The Recount published this video mash-up of Mayor Pete parroting Obama virtually verbatim as he makes his way along the campaign trail:

It begs many questions. Is Mayor Pete plagiarizing a politician he admires in the hopes that we won’t notice (an act that virtually ended Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential bid)? Is he simply borrowing a bit of style and some winning language from the last great orator to hold the post to which he now aspires? In the era of social media and a world in which retweeting and sharing others’ thoughts, ideas, pictures and more without any sense of responsibility to credit the creators of that content has become commonplace, do audiences even care any more where the message comes from?

That last question should be especially troubling for any of us — citizens who will elect the next president and certainly communications professionals such as myself — who value authenticity in our leaders.

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