That there are plagiarists in Washington is not new, nor is it news unless the plagiarists are from political camps one opposes.
Bill Clinton is an alleged plagiarizer. George W. Bush (43) is an alleged plagiarizer. Hillary Clinton was accused of plagiarizing Bill Clinton (of all things!). Joe Biden was accused of it (OK…he admitted his, crediting “youthful mistakes”) President Obama was accused of plagiarizing former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Now, Senator Rand Paul is accused of various and sundry plagiarisms. There will be others. One can be a plagiarist and still continue to be promoted in public office. The people’s memories are short and what politicians say is seldom remembered for more than a few years. We expect to hear untruths. Why should we be indignant when we get a bit of plagiarism sprinkled about to spice up our rhetoric diet?
My verdict: I suspect they are all guilty. I suspect we are all guilty. We read and hear so much, being constantly bombarded with the wit and wisdom of every pundit, right and left, and every “expert” who has ever written a book, no matter how bad, on every subject, no matter how unworthy. We don’t live in a vacuum. Few of us have completely original thoughts and if we did, the words of others have made an indelible stamp. If I am lucky, someone will plagiarize this in just a day or two.
Rand Paul is the latest of the bad form plagiarists. He whiningly blames his speechwriters (Why do Senators have speech writers? Why does anyone have speechwriters?). He says, like Al Haig, “Mistakes were made.” Or did he really say that? If taking the words of others as ones own is plagiarism, what do you call projecting your own words into the mouths of others? Whimsicalism? Justfoolinism? Fraterinventionism? He then goes on to threaten to quit politics, saying, “If you don’t stop I’m taking my toys and going home to practice opthalmology.” Oops! Another justfoolinism. I’d rather have Paul’s plagiarism than his diversionism. Seemingly, he says it’s the media’s fault that I have lost quite a bit of respect for him. He has himself to blame for that. Rand….get rid of your speechwriters! Don’t hire new ones, either. In the long run, I think I respect him no less than the aforementioned politicians, but certainly less than I did. Perhaps because his plagiarism and the way he has handled its revelation reveals a vacuousness I had not noticed before.
“Mistakes were made,” said Al Haig.
“Mistakes were made,” said Joe Biden.
“Mistakes were made,” says Rand Paul.
“I did not have plagiarism with that woman,” said Bill Clinton. OK! He didn’t say that. I couldn’t resist another justfoolinism.
And while there are many things I might accuse Hillary Clinton of, plagiarizing her husband of 38 years is not one of them. Which of them knows where their own thoughts stop and their spouse’s begins? OK. Bill has clearly had some thoughts that were not Hillary’s. And Hillary may have wondered what Bill was up to as Bill was wondering if Hillary was wondering what he was up to, but that is very nearly the same thought. My own wife has planted so many ideas in my head over the last 33 years, most of them good ones, I suspect every idea I have that you also think is a good one actually came from her. If I credited her on everything I’d sound like Jimmy Carter, who regularly gave credit for ideas and national policy decisions to Rosalyn, Miss Lillian, Ruth Carter Stapleton, and Amy. AMY!!! Maybe he should have listened to Brother Billy.
“Jimmy, you a momma’s boy. You oughta kick those Eye-raineeyun’s asses. That place has gone to hell over there ever since they up and run that Shaw off,” observed Billy, eating boiled peanuts as he chugged a few not-quite-cold Billy Beers (I still have an unopened can!) at his Plains service station on a hot South-Georgia summer day.
“Well, at least I’ve never plagiarized,” replied Jimmy.
“Naw. And, you don’t never say nothin’ worth hearin’, neither. Always quotin’ Momma like somebody somewhere besides here gives a rat’s butt about what Momma thinks about anything, and you, the President of these here United States,” said Billy in disgust, raising his hand to whomp Jimmy a good one until he saw about fifteen Secret Service agents draw their pistols. He promptly lowered his hand.
“I’m afraid you can’t bully me anymore, Billy,” said Jimmy.
“Afraid is right. Shut up and have a beer. Y’all boys all put t’em guns up and have a beer, too,” said Billy, pointing to the ice chest with the Billy Beers submerged in the tepid water, “And some peanuts.”
The reader may decide for himself if that was truthful or another justfoolinism.
I often wonder about the news media itself, a marvel of multiple plagiarisms. Have you ever wondered why something becomes a news media topic all of a sudden, and a Google search turns up even major news outlets with a string of articles on the suddenly hot topic that all look suspiciously the same while also wondering why there are no credits? Ahhh! The work of publicists, public relations consultants, and the magic of press releases. Some publicists even freelance as speechwriters.
Many times, newspapers, trade magazines, online magazines, and blogs pick up press releases and run then exactly as written, especially on a slow news day when they must have copy to fill pages otherwise devoid of content. I seldom see credits or see sources footnoted…I just see the copy. Not only is this plagiarism, it is the worst kind, since it is plagiarism that never gets to the truth of the matter, but reveals only what paid publicists want revealed. Typically these types of press releases reveal nothing because diversion and concealment are their very purpose.
At the very least, I’d like a little truth with my plagiarism, please. It is so bland without it.
So that I will not be accused of plagiarism, I will offer the following credits for this brief editorial:
1. Gautier Elementary School, Gautier, Mississippi (I learned to read and write there. Many of the words I used I got from various teachers and textbooks.)
2. Mrs. Gambil, my first grade teacher
3. Mrs. Myers, my second grade teacher
4. Mrs. Gibson, my third grade teacher
5. The rest of my teachers
6. The Oxford English Dictionary
7. Mrs. Poole, my 8th grade English teacher who gave me a big fat zero on a book report and promptly introduced me to the word “plagiarism” by way of accusing me of plagiarizing from Cliff’s Notes rather than having actually read Tom Sawyer. (How did she know?)
8. I learned about the alleged plagiarisms above from various and sundry sources. I did not just magically know of their alleged plagiarisms. I had to get the news from somewhere…but I have no clue as to where the news originally came from, but cluelessness and the work of others is credited here.
9. Every writer, producer, newscaster, news analyst, editor, pundit, publisher, whose work I ever read or heard.
10. Myself, since I frequently borrow previously recycled ideas and rhetoric from myself
11. My mother
12. My grandmother
13. My grandfather
14. My brother
15. My wife
16. Aunt Ann
17. My nanny, Lela
18. Unnamed and unknowable others
19. World Book Encyclopedia
20. McGuffey’s Reader
21. ___________________ (insert other in blank)
22. Everyone who ever told me anything that I remembered
23. Any memory of what someone else may have said that actually informed my opinion
24. Oh! And history teachers.
25. Will and Ariel Durant’s The History of Civilization
26. The Weekly Reader
27. National Geographic
28. Anything liable to turn up in a Google search on any of the words contained herein
29. My ghost writers
30. My editors
31. et cetera
32. ad infinitum
33. in saecula saeculorum
34. gettum in tedium monotonus
That should cover it. I hope. If not, and the plagiarism accusations begin to fly, then I can take some comfort knowing that history indicates I most likely have not damaged any future political aspirations. To be accused of plagiarism means that someone actually read what you wrote or listened to what you said.
It could be worse.