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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

 

Lying Plagiarists for President!

posted by Nonpartisan at Wednesday, January 10, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
[Note: This is my first post at Nation-Building, and I'm proud to be the newest part of the team here. This post is crossposted at my community site, ProgressiveHistorians, as well as at Daily Kos, MyDD, and My Left Wing. I promise not all my posts will be as hard-hitting as this one.]

Greetings! I'm Nonpartisan, proprietor of ProgressiveHistorians and longtime liberal blogger. I'm here to tell you about a new project I'm heading up, a new grassroots movement that will sweep the country with its brilliance: Lying Plagiarists for President.

Much in the same way Unity08 is a front group for Michael Bloomberg, Lying Plagiarists for President is organized as a platform for 2008 Presidential candidate Joseph Biden. Co-chaired by former Columbia University professor Joseph Ellis, former New York Times columnist Jayson Blair, and former Washington Post blogger Ben Domenech, who crossed parties to back Biden, the group's long-term goals include providing resources and support to lying plagiarists everywhere and transforming plagiarism reputation from a crime into the bold and courageous act we know it to be.
 
As you may or may not know, I'm a historian. And historians as a profession have been effusive in our praise for plagiarism. For instance, here's what our most influential professional organization, the American Historical Association, has to say on the subject:

The word plagiarism derives from Latin roots: plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal. The expropriation of another author’s work, and the presentation of it as one’s own, constitutes plagiarism and is a serious violation of the ethics of scholarship. It seriously undermines the credibility of the plagiarist, and can do irreparable harm to a historian’s career. ...

Plagiarism, then, takes many forms. The clearest abuse is the use of another’s language without quotation marks and citation. More subtle abuses include the appropriation of concepts, data, or notes all disguised in newly crafted sentences, or reference to a borrowed work in an early note and then extensive further use without subsequent attribution. Borrowing unexamined primary source references from a secondary work without citing that work is likewise inappropriate. All such tactics reflect an unworthy disregard for the contributions of others.


And prominent historian and blogger Johnathan Dresner has this to say about the unfairly maligned art:

Definition: Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another person without proper acknowledgement.

Policy: Plagiarism is intellectual theft: it is not acceptable in any endeavor, but in an educational setting it is particularly repugnant.


As you can see, the historical community truly understands the critical significance of plagiarism to American life. But one prominent politician understands it even better -- for he martyred his career in its defense eighteen years ago.

In 1987, Joe Biden was well on his way to becoming the next President of the United States. According to reporter Lawrence I. Barrett, writing in TIME Magazine, Biden was a particularly strong contender in the large field:

Biden remains at the bottom of polls, but party donors, who know that ! preliminary surveys are not critical, have put his campaign treasury in the penthouse with more than $2 million in contributions. Says Republican Analyst John Sears: "Biden, on paper, has more to work with in putting together a broadly based candidacy than any of the other Democrats."


But then the bottom fell out of Biden's campaign, as an "attack video" put together by the campaign of eventual nominee Michael Dukakis (likely without Dukakis' knowledge) proved that Biden was, in fact, a lying plagiarist. Michael Harvey explains:

In 1987, for instance, Senator Joe Biden, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was accused of plagiarizing passages in speeches and interviews from the oratory of a British politician, Neil Kinnock. Here are some of the passages in question:

Kinnock (original)

Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?

Was it because our predecessors were thick? Does anybody really think that they didn't get what we had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.

Biden

I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college?

Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? . . . No, it's not because they weren't as smart. It's not because they didn't work as hard. It's because they didn't have a platform upon which to stand . . .


It turned out Biden had also borrowed passages from old campaign speeches by Robert Kennedy and had inflated his academic record. But oratory has a long tradition of borrowing and even "heavy lifting," as speechwriters call it, so Biden stayed alive in the presidential race. The last straw, however, came when it turned out that twenty years earlier Biden had received a failing grade in a law school course for plagiarizing a legal article (he'd given a single footnote while lifting five full pages from the article). Biden said he'd been unaware of the appropriate standards for legal briefs, but the public was unimpressed. His campaign collapsed and he withdrew from the race.


TIME reporter George J. Church wrote that the video, of which I was unable to obtain a copy, was even worse:

The tapes of the two speakers, which were eventually aired on U.S. television, show Biden not only echoing Kinnock's words but aping his gestures.


Joe Biden learned the hard way that standing up for the lost art of plagiarism is killer for one's political career. But he's hoping that eighteen years have broadened the public's tolerance for the oppressed minority of proud plagiarists. Biden's running for President again, and Lying Plagiarists for President is thrilled to support his Presidential run. Our slogan is: Lying Plagiarists for President -- Because That's What The Other Guy Said. And we're proud to support our guy, the next President of the United States -- Joe Biden.


Discussion

wow, man, that was fun :)

I think that Biden knows he isn't going to get elected. I think his aim is to shift the debate. Then again, maybe he really believes he can win, but as far as I am concerned his role as a debate shifter is why I am glad to see him run. I think that Biden was pro-hawk in the 2000 season and would likely reprise that role. I am still wavering on withdrawal and it woudl be nice to see someone articulate the liberal interventionism angle from the liberal side rather than the tired stay the course routine.

 

Aziz, I think Biden's actually angling for a Secretary of State nod. There was talk that he had a deal with Kerry for that job in 2004; now, with most of the leading candidates for the Presidency people who don't know him that well (except for Hillary), Biden feels he needs to campaign actively for that position.

He's got competition, though. There are better-qualified candidates for that job: George Mitchell, Richard Holbrooke (who was reportedly Gore's choice in 2000), Wesley Clark, and the man who is currently making the best case for himself, Bill Richardson. My personal pick would still be Holbrooke, who's the most naturally talented diplomat of the bunch -- but Richardson is doing one heck of a job of making his case.

 

Bill Richardson? Are you kidding? He's the one who was involved in outing the investigation into a possible at Los Alamos under Clinton while he was Sec. Energy. Biden would be by far, the better choice. As for Holbrooke, I think Biden also has him beat.

 

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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.