Flashback: Bill Clinton Stole Lines From Catholic Priest For 1993 Inauguration Address

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On his first day as President of the United States, Bill Clinton used the work of a Baptist pastor and a recently-deceased Catholic priest without any attribution.

Clinton kicked off his 1993 Inaugural Address by saying, “Today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter. But, by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring. A spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy, that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America.”

As pointed out by The New York Times in 2008, Clinton “borrowed” the work of both the late Rev. Tim Healy, former president of Georgetown University, and the work of Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, a Baptist pastor.

Rev. Healy, a friend of Clinton, had passed away a couple weeks after the 1992 election. An unfinished letter to Clinton was found in Healy’s typewriter. Clinton lifted language from the letter but never once mentioned the source. In fact, Clinton didn’t mention Healy once in the address.

As noted by the Times, a few days after Clinton’s address, Newsday’s Jimmy Breslin wrote: “When Healy sent Clinton that phrase it was with the idea that he would be alive and that he would hear Clinton say, ‘In the words of the Rev. Tim Healy.”

In his Inaugural Address, Clinton also borrowed springtime references from a sermon Taylor gave earlier that day. “On this fateful day, we enter a springtime, we believe, of a new beginnings. There may be spring rains and storms, but it is springtime in America,” Taylor had said, according to the Times.

Breslin’s column noted that Rev. Taylor “was unknowingly providing more thoughts and phrases for the speech.” Like that of Healy, Taylor’s name didn’t appear once in the address.

Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson