Sunday, June 19, 2005

Biden run for president?

Consistent with the final outcome of the Tribe matter, Biden's possible candidacy suggests plagiarism is not that big of a deal.

from AP on June 19, 2005:

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., said Sunday he intends to run for president in 2008.
But Biden, who also sought the nomination in 1988, said he would give himself until the end of this year to determine if he really can raise enough money and attract enough support.

Going after the nomination "is a real possibility," he said on CBS' Face the Nation.

"My intention, as I sit here now, is, as I've proceeded since last November as if I were going to run. I'm quite frankly going out, seeing whether I can gather the kind of support," Biden said.

Biden said he was taking his "game on the road, letting people know what I think."

He added, "If, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination."

Biden dropped out of the 1988 presidential race after a series of disclosures that he had liberally borrowed from other politicians in his stump speeches [LBE note: charges of plagiarism] and after questions about his law school records.

from Brian Martin, Journal of Information Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 2, Fall 1994, pp. 36-47:

...most studies of plagiarism focus exclusively on the competitive variety and ignore its institutionalized forms. The example of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. illustrates this. Biden was a U.S. presidential aspirant who in 1987 was exposed for having plagiarized the speeches of some other politicians, such as British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. This caused much moralizing in the media (some of it ghostwritten) and contributed to Biden dropping out of the race for president. Yet the dependence of almost all leading politicians on speechwriters was little remarked. Biden was caught out in the sin of plagiarizing from other politicians (a type of competitive plagiarism), whereas plagiarizing from speechwriters was treated as acceptable because it was plagiarism of workers in a subordinate position (institutionalized plagiarism) [LBE note: possibly very similar to the Laurence Tribe matter]. Indeed, when Biden plagiarized from Robert Kennedy's speeches, it was actually the words of Kennedy's speechwriter Adam Walinsky that both used (Posner, Ari. 1988. "The culture of plagiarism." The New Republic, 18 April:19-24.).

A closer examination of the competitive and institutionalized types of plagiarism would show many overlaps and inconsistencies rather than a uniformly clear distinction. For example, some heads of university laboratories demand their name on every publication (institutionalized plagiarism in a competitive setting) and some corporate and government bureaucracies allow or even foster conventional individual authorship. Nonetheless, the generalization that most studies of plagiarism focus on violations of competitive etiquette and downplay misattributions in hierarchical organizational settings still applies.


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