Barack Obama's claim at the Austin debate with Hillary Clinton last night that accusations of plagiarism against him are "silly" and invoke images of politics' "silly season" are disingenuous at best and slick at worst.
All one has to do is watch the YouTube comparisons of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's delivery of his speech in October 2006 with the same lines delivered (less well, I might add) by Obama this month, and it becomes clear that the lines were taken directly.
Last night Obama said he reused the Patrick speech with his good friend's permission. Well, then, that should have been stated at the time he delivered them rather than after the charges of plagiarism were made.
That way he would have been more upfront and inoculated himself against those charges.
But his claim that the charges were silly and the fact that he glibly sidestepped them and moved quickly on to other topics display a dangerous slickness about the senator that could easily come back to haunt him in the future.
Can one expect that the exchange last night will slow down Obama's now seemingly inevitable march to the nomination? Judging by the boos Clinton drew when asked about the plagiarism charge and the cheers for Obama's response, of course not.
But is his attitude on this point a harbinger of slick responses to serious questions that undoubtedly occur in the future? Yes, it is.