early and awkward

Rand Paul Promises to Stop Plagiarizing, Still Doesn’t Understand What That Means

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

When the media pointed out two instances in which Rand Paul’s speeches included lines lifted directly from Wikipedia entries for Gattaca and Stand and Deliver, the senator decided to play dumb. So Politico kept going. After the outlet confronted the senator’s website with two new examples of plagiarism on Thursday, this time from news reports, one of Paul’s top advisers vowed that they would be “more cautious in presenting and attributing sources” going forward – though he still thinks the idea that politicians shouldn’t repeat things other people write word-for-word is just something cooked up by the haters.

In the first example discovered by Politico, Paul said “the ranks of America’s poor swelled to almost 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans struggling and out of work,” in a 2013 speech, without mentioning that the exact phrase appeared in a report from the Associated Press. In the other case, the speechwriter did alter the words a bit. Paul said at Howard University:

By sixth grade, Ronald Holassie was failing most of his classes, but through school choice he was able to attend a Catholic school in the D.C. area. There, he learned that he had a natural gift for composing music, but before that, his reading level was so low that he had struggled to write lyrics.

CitizenLink, Focus on the Family’s magazine, wrote in 2010:

[Holassie] described public schools where fighting was more common than learning. By the sixth grade, Ronald was failing most of his classes. He has a natural gift for composing music, but was so far behind in reading that he struggled to write lyrics.

Just as Paul weirdly suggested that he was being accused of claiming he wrote an Ethan Hawke film in his spare time, his staffers admitted no wrongdoing and said no reasonable person would think Paul single-handedly uncovered all of the information in his public statements. Paul adviser Doug Stafford, his former chief of staff, told Politico:

In the course of lengthy speeches, Sen. Paul has described facts and relayed examples that, of course, had been reported first elsewhere – in no way insinuating they were his own thoughts or ideas. If the text had been submitted for academic publication, of course it would have been footnoted. Only in Washington is something this trivial a source for liberal media angst.

If everything these sources say is true, then why would they have a problem with Paul reciting their writing verbatim with no attribution?

Rand Paul Stops Plagiarizing, Remains Confused