It looks like Rand Paul is a serial plagiarizer.
Rachel Maddow was the first to publicize Paul’s word piracy. On her MSNBC TV program, she showed Kentucky’s junior giving a speech in which he lifted lines verbatim, or close to it, from the Wikipedia entry about the movie Gattaca.
“Paul said repeatedly that he didn't claim credit for writing ‘Gattaca’ -- although that sidesteps the real issue, which is whether his speech plagiarized Wikipedia, not the movie,” wrote Scott Collins, who covers the TV beat for the Los Angeles Times.
Ask any teacher. It is plagiarism when you pass off somebody else’s words as your own, as Paul did in his speech.
The senator responded to Maddow with predictable self-righteousness. He told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos that she was one of those liberal “haters” out to get him.
But people who live in glass houses…well, you know the rest.
After Maddow caught Paul purloining, BuzzFeed reported that in another speech, he evidently copied – again without attribution -- from the Wikipedia entry for the film Stand and Deliver. “When Paul likes a movie, we evidently know where he goes for research,” Collins suggested.
Anyway, not to be outdone, news hounds at Politico dug up more examples of Paul’s plagiarism in other speeches – one from an Associated Press story and another from a magazine put out by Focus on the Family, a religious right group.
Maddow rounded on Paul again in a subsequent show. “So Wikipedia multiple times, the Associated Press, now this conservative group…that’s the tally so far that we know of,” she said, adding that the senator “seems to have a penchant for plagiarizing from all sorts of different places.”
Oh, Paul talks a lot about honesty and how we all should take more personal responsibility for what we say and do. So the senator had his staffers do the honorable thing and fall on his sword.
Paul hasn’t admitted guilt. But his acolytes promise the boss will “be more cautious in presenting and attributing sources,” according to Maddow.
If I were Maddow, I wouldn’t waste my time on a victory lap. Liberals should have long ago realized that it’s well-nigh mission impossible to shame right wing politicians in the eyes of their followers.
Paul is still a tea party darling. His base – mostly white folks of the Obama’s-a-Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist persuasion – doesn’t care if he swipes from Wikipedia or anyplace else, or if he just makes stuff up.
Almost all teahadists are of the Jesus-said-it-I-believe-it-that-settles-it persuasion. You could substitute the name of the Prince of Peace with “Michelle Bachmann,” “Ted Cruz,” “Louie Gohmert,” “Sarah Palin,” “Rand Paul” and the other tea party denizens.
Yet ashore from the tea party fantasy island, Paul’s plagiarism is adding more to his image as an intellectual lightweight -- a rich, clueless college frat rat way out of his league in Washington.
Anyway, I remember liberal pundits of the Ronald Reagan era who were ever-catching the gaffe-a-minute Gipper in whoppers. Mark Green and Gail MacColl wrote a book called There He Goes Again: Ronald Reagan’s Reign of Error. Paul Slansky penned The Clothes Have No Emperor.
Liberals guffawed when Reagan said nutty stuff, like when he cited a Reader’s Digest article as “proof” that Soviet agents had infiltrated the nuclear freeze movement.
Reader’s Digest was famous for its shallow, right-wing Republican propaganda. It was Fox News in print. But legions of Reagan loyalists doted on the magazine. They said it, like the president, “made common sense,” meaning both reinforced their prejudices.
So it goes with panderers Paul and Ted Cruz, the latter a real deal demagogue; he even looks like Joe McCarthy. Paul is Cruz’s big time rival for tea party hearts and minds and the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
Anyway, plagiarism is the height of intellectual dishonesty. It is a last resort for lazy thinkers for whom deep thought is too taxing. It is also an example of the ancient Greeks’ great sin: “hubris,” meaning overweening pride. Plagiarizers from high school kids to U.S. senators, think they’ll never get caught in the act, but they almost always do.
In nabbing Paul, Maddow may have unwittingly opened up a giant economy size can of worms: the National Board of Ophthalmology, a sore subject to the senator, who is also an eye doctor.
Paul, according to Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier Journal, has yet to answer “questions about the group he and a handful of other doctors founded more than a dozen years ago in an effort to avoid taking the American Board of Ophthalmology exam for a second time.”
Gerth explained, “The American Board of Ophthalmology had decided that doctors needed to be periodically retested to insure they were keeping their skills up to date. Paul and some of other eye doctors objected when the group decided to not make older doctors, who had been promised lifetime certifications, take the retests.
“Paul was initially certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology but beginning in 2005, was certified by his own National Board of Ophthalmology alone. He is properly licensed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.
“But Paul has said precious little about the organization he formed or if its certification provides any sort of real assurance to patients that doctors certified by it are qualified.
“At the time Paul was elected to the Senate, he was president of the National Board of Ophthalmology, his wife was vice president and his father-in-law was secretary. The group is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
“The NBO, three years ago, operated out of a post office box at a UPS Store in Bowling Green.”
In 2010, The Courier-Journal, the Bluegrass State’s biggest paper, popped some questions to him, Gerth wrote:
“What did the National Board of Ophthalmology certification process require? Did it require additional continuing medical education classes — over and above what is required by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure — like the American Board of Ophthalmology requires?
“Did doctors have to take a proctored exam to earn or maintain their certification? If so, what did that exam entail and who wrote it?
“The American Board of Ophthalmology re-certification process costs about $1,500 every 10 years. How much did the National Board of Ophthalmology charge, and where did any proceeds from the organization go?”
Mum’s still the word from Paul.
“We probably now also need to ask Paul, who conducts eye surgery on the poor and elderly for free while the Senate is out of session, whether he still holds himself out to be board certified since the Kentucky Secretary of State dissolved the National Board of Ophthalmology in 2011 after Paul didn’t file required paperwork,” Gerth proposed.
He reported that “An internet search didn’t find any indication the National Board of Ophthalmology had been reborn somewhere else.
“If he does run for president in 2016, rest assured we won’t be the only ones asking these questions. Paul might as well get them out of the way now.”
I guess Paul has put Gerth on his list of “haters,” if the scribe wasn’t there already.
Sunday, 3 November 2013