Tag Archives: plagiarism

Former VP Biden looks like he’s in . . . sigh

Joe Biden is sounding increasingly like someone who’s decided to make yet another run for the presidency of the United States.

Oh . . . my. This situation fills me with great emotional conflict.

I admire the former vice president greatly. He has served in public life with distinction. He has occupied a large spot on the national stage, starting with his election to the U.S. Senate in 1972.

Have there been missteps, hiccups, embarrassing moments along the way? Yes. He was caught plagiarizing remarks from a British politician; he has been prone to assorted verbal gaffes throughout his public life.

He ran for president in 1988 and again in 2008. The plagiarism rap torpedoed his earlier run. He lost to Sen. Barack Obama two decades later and then ran with the future president to two historic election victories.

Biden also has endured tragedy. His wife and daughter were killed in that horrific traffic accident prior to his taking office in the Senate. His elder son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. The VP wore his emotions on his sleeve. He endured and has carved out a largely successful public service career.

He’s now 77 years of age. I want a fresher face to run for president and to challenge Donald Trump in 2020.

That all said, if it comes down to a Trump-Biden contest next year, there’s no doubt who would get my support.

I just want someone else to go for the gusto.

Trump’s campaign machinery is broken

melania and michelle

Donald J. Trump keeps telling us about his business acumen, his ability to craft “great deals,” his no-nonsense approach to just about everything he has ever done in his entire life.

If he is a man of his word, then he’s got to fire someone — or several someones — over the embarrassment they have brought to his campaign and to his wife, Melania.

The Republican presidential nominee’s wife gave what had been hailed initially as a fine campaign speech on behalf of her husband.

Then came news of an entirely different kind. Melania Trump lifted passages of her speech from a 2008 speech delivered by none other than Michelle Obama, the wife of the man every Republican in the Cleveland convention seems to hate.

Now comes the quarrel over whether she plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said she didn’t, that “93 percent” of Trump’s speech was her own. Others have quibbled over Barack Obama’s lifting of remarks from then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s speech.

Look, Mrs. Trump got embarrassed. So did her husband, whose campaign has shrugged off the criticism. That’s the campaign’s call to make.

But it does reveal a fundamental flaw in the Trump campaign apparatus, which is that no one looked over nominee’s wife’s shoulder to protect her and her husband from the kind of gaffe that occurred.

Melania Trump in many ways is an accomplished individual. She speaks several languages. She is not, however, a polished political spouse.

I have zero clues as to how this situation developed. I have a better idea, though, about how it could have been prevented. That responsibility belonged to the individuals in charge of Donald Trump’s campaign.

They let him and his wife down.

Donald Trump will boast all he wants about how he plans to win this election. It starts, though, with building a campaign┬áorganization run by people who know what they’re doing.

Melania channels Michelle? Oops!


When journalists copy material and pass it off as their original reporting, well, they get into a lot of trouble.

Same for, say, doctoral students who write theses to earn their university degrees. No can do.

Politicians, too, can get themselves into trouble when the swipe others’ profound thoughts and present them as their own brilliant rhetoric. Isn’t that right, Vice President Joe Biden?

Now, do politicians’ spouses face the same scrutiny? Must they endure the ridicule that comes to journalists and pols?

Melania Trump delivered a speech last night at the Republican National Convention that some dialed-in watchers thought they’d heard before. Turns out a good bit of Trump’s comments originated from another well-known political spouse, one Michelle Obama.

Melania channeling Michelle? Who’d have thunk that?

This link contains some fascinating evidence of plagiarism. Check out the bold-faced type references in both women’s speeches.


Trump’s speech — I listened to most of it Monday night — contained a passage about growing up in Slovenia and mentioned the values imbued in her by her parents. Someone out here in TV Land remembered Obama making strikingly similar references when she spoke at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver.

There were other passages that seemed quite similar in character.

Vice President Biden ran for president a couple of times before getting the call to run with Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. The first time was in 1988. Then-Sen. Biden’s campaign flew into the ditch when it was revealed that he copied extended passages from an earlier speech delivered by Neil Kinnock, who was a British Labor Party leader.

News networks played the two men’s speeches side by side. The ridicule was loud and sustained. It’s interesting to me as well that much of what Biden lifted from Kinnock’s speech also had to do with personal history, upbringing and values.

Biden pulled out of the Democratic Party primary race and skulked back into the Senate cloakroom shadows … at least briefly.

Melania Trump has said she wrote the speech she delivered last night with “as little help” as possible.

Hmmm. Really?

Suffice to say she seems to have needed some help with this one — and now she’ll need help explaining what appears to be so painfully obvious.

War College revokes senator's degree

Here’s a welcomed post script to an embarrassing political story.

The Army War College has yanked the master’s degree from U.S. Sen. John Walsh after determining that the Montana Democrat plagiarized the paper for which he was awarded the degree.


This is the final blow to a political career that was on the ropes to begin with, but which now has been dealt a knockout.

Walsh was running for election to the seat to which he was appointed after former Sen. Max Baucus became U.S. ambassador to China. It would have been a tough pull for Walsh to hold the seat in a Republican year running in a state that tilts toward the GOP.

Then came the revelation that he copied much of the master’s thesis he wrote while attending the War College. He pulled out of the race after receiving a torrent of criticism.

Honor and integrity have to count when one portrays oneself as a proud member of the military; Walsh is an Army reserve officer who served combat tours in Iraq.

Walsh blamed his transgression on PTSD, to which the Army College review board responded, according to ABC.com: “The board said in its findings that other students have had similar or more serious issues during their time at the war college, but they were able to do the work ‘without resorting to plagiarism or other cheating.'”

There you have it.

So long, senator.

Good luck, Montana Democrats

Montana’s Democratic Party has a tough choice to make.

Who will the party kingmakers select to replace U.S. Sen. John Walsh, who quit his election campaign over the scandal involving his plagiarizing his master’s thesis at the Army War College?


They’ll make the pick on Aug. 16 and then, more than likely, send the new nominee to his or her defeat this November.

I was thinking about a situation that occurred in my home state of Oregon back in 1974.

U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood, the Republican, was set to face a rematch against the man he defeated six years earlier, former Democratic Sen. Wayne Morse. Then ol’ Wayne up and died after winning the primary that spring.

The Oregon Democratic Party then turned to a veteran state senator, Betty Roberts, to run against Packwood.

This, of course, was well before Packwood got into all that trouble relating to his womanizing habits. Back in the old days, Packwood was known as a rapid-fire pol well-versed on policy. He was engaging, smart, glib and quite moderate on many social issues — such as abortion rights.

Morse likely would have lost his rematch with Packwood. So, it fell to Roberts — well-known around the Portland area but virtually unknown everywhere else — to defeat the young incumbent.

She fell about 10 percentage points short that year.

Whoever the Montana Democrats pick this year will have an even steeper hill to climb. Montana tilts Republican. This looks like a Republican year. Walsh was appointed to replace Max Baucus, who took a job as U.S. ambassador to China.

It’s good Walsh has exited the race. He squandered voters’ trust with the plagiarism.

My bet now is that whoever Montana’s Democrats choose will fall far short of where Betty Roberts finished in her last-minute effort so many years ago.

Sen. Cheater drops out

Sen. John Walsh has dropped out of his race to be elected to the seat to which he was appointed.

Good bye, senator.


Walsh, D-Mont., was running for election and faced an uphill fight to keep a seat in a Republican state that is trending more GOP than ever this year. He faced long odds.

Then it was revealed that the guy plagiarized large sections of his master’s thesis at the Army War College. Walsh at first said he “inadvertently” lifted some passages from other people’s work, which is a serious no-no on its face. Then he admitted more or less to what the Washington Post uncovered, which was that large sections of copy came directly from other writings — and were added to his thesis without attribution.

Walsh then blamed the plagiarism on post-traumatic stress disorder, which to my mind is more than a bit of a stretch.

To borrow Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s infamous quip: Oops.

Walsh was facing intense criticism in Montana. His fellow Democrats ran for the tall grass.

What he did, of course, didn’t involve the standard scandal stuff of sexual immorality or theft of money. Instead, it involved lack of character and honesty.

Most of us understand that public officials aren’t perfect. But some of us — including me — expect them to be closer to perfection than the average Joe.

Sen. Walsh has been revealed to be untrustworthy, given that he based much of his campaign on his military record, which implicitly includes his academic credentials.

Now those credentials are known to be fraudulent. The next step should be for the War College to pull back his master’s degree.

Honesty should go far in public life

Must we demand our public officials be perfect in every way?

Of course not. Scripture tells us we’ve had one perfect man walk among us. The rest of us are sinners … pure and simple.

The question is worth asking, though, in the wake of a scandal involving a member of the U.S. Senate running for election to a seat to which he was appointed.

John Walsh, D-Mont., was caught plagiarizing a master’s thesis at the Army War College. He didn’t just copy a sentence of two without attributing their source. Oh no. Walsh lifted huge sections of his thesis from other people’s work and then sought to pass it off as his own.


He blamed the act initially on post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered from combat duty in Iraq. Now he’s backing off. The criticism has been intense, as it should be. The plagiarism likely will doom his election effort; Walsh had been selected to fill the rest of the term of Max Baucus, who quit to become U.S. ambassador to China.

The point about perfection among public officials is key here.

I don’t expect politicians to be perfect. I do expect them — to paraphrase a common saying — to be better than the average bear.

By that I mean we should expect them to live up to the manner in which they sell themselves to voters. Walsh held his military record up as a reason to vote for him. Now that record has come under attack by virtue of the plagiarism to which Walsh has admitted.

Politicians run on morality all the time, only to have it revealed that they’ve cheated on their spouse, or broken the law along the way, or done something in their past that some would consider to be immoral.

John Walsh’s transgression isn’t the worst improper act ever committed. It does, however, betray a hypocrisy that voters shouldn’t tolerate. No one is perfect. Voters, though, should demand that the people who represent their interests just be better than the rest of us.

That’s not too high a bar to cross.

Plagiarism is a firing offense

Journalists know this to be true: Plagiarism arguably is Rule No. 1 that never should be broken.

To do so is to commit a firing offense.

Is it the same for political figures seeking the trust of the voters? I think so.

U.S. Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., is running for election to the seat to which he was appointed when Max Baucus left the Senate to become U.S. ambassador to China.


Now comes a report from the New York Times that Walsh plagiarized his master’s thesis.

Oops. Can’t do that, senator.

The Times reports that Walsh, who was an Army officer attending the War College, lifted material without attributing it for his thesis, which he wrote in order to graduate from the War College.

Walsh has denied any “intentional” plagiarism.

Whatever. As the Hill reported about a portion of the thesis Walsh submitted for review, “The 800-word section is copied nearly verbatim from a paper from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.”

The question now is this: Should voters in Montana “fire” Walsh for this kind of transgression? He has, after all, trumpeted his War College credentials and his experience as an Army officer to the voters. If he failed to complete the requirements needed to obtain that degree by copying large segments from other writings, isn’t that tantamount to falsifying his background?

Yes it is.

Walsh has an uphill fight as it is. Montana is leaning Republican this year. His opponent, GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, at one time commanded a big lead. Walsh reportedly had cut into that lead.

This report is likely to hurt his standing with voters. As it should.