Pop quiz time. Why are politicians different from reporters? (No jokes about the penchant for junk food and odds hours, please).

Turns out with one group, plagiarism is rewarded — or at least the most flagrant practitioners hope so.

John Edwards is stealing Howard Dean’s tagline “you have the power,” and John Kerry is helping himself to another Dean-ism about “breaking the grip of powerful interests in this country,” according to a careful listen by Knight Ridder’s Thomas Fitzgerald.

Dean is willing to forgive and forget. “That’s part of politics, and it’s not all bad,” he said, when informed of the heists; “Certainly we’ve changed the message of the Democratic Party.”

But what about the voters? With all the tagline theft, will they possibly remember who stands for what?


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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.