Monday, August 25, 2008

Googling --plagiarism and joe biden--

At about 11:30pm on Monday, August 25, googling --plagiarism and joe biden-- produces 87,500 hits, with one IPBiz post, IPBiz: More on the plagiarism of Joe Biden, showing up #8 on the first page. Famousplagiarists was #1, and wikipedia was #2 and #3.

The fourth hit is somewhat interesting, to a WashingtonPost page under the general rubric "Clinton Accused," but with the following text:

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden's withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator's boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden's speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.

The controversy became two frenzies in one when it was disclosed that the campaign of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis had earlier secretly distributed to several news media outlets an "attack video" juxtaposing the Biden and Kinnock speeches and revealing Biden's word theft. The Dukakis campaign at first stonewalled and denied any part in the tape's distribution, but when the truth emerged Dukakis was forced to fire his campaign manager, John Sasso, and political director, Paul Tully – the two who had orchestrated the maneuver. Dukakis himself insisted he had no prior knowledge of their actions, and though wounded, his candidacy survived the incident.

The first paragraph of the Post piece quickly summarizes the plagiarism charges against Biden. Curiously, it does not note that the "factual" aspects of the Kinnock speech appropriated by Biden, when applied to Biden, were NOT true. Probably the more troubling aspect of Biden's act wasn't the copying, it was the untruthfulness (eg, Biden's father and grandfather were NOT coal miners, and the image conveyed by Biden was completely false).

The second paragraph brings out that it was Biden's opponent, Dukakis (or agents thereof), who created the Kinnock incident.

Hit #5 on Google reveals the historical significance that Biden's plagiarism has achieved. From the Nuts and Bolts of College Writing:

Plagiarism can have catastrophic consequences for one's career as a student and even later on in life—and the higher one's ambition takes one, the higher the stakes. In 1987, for instance, Senator Joe Biden, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, was accused of plagiarizing passages in speeches and interviews from the oratory of a British politician, Neil Kinnock. Here are some of the passages in question: (...)

IPBiz wonders whether this preface has to be re-written [?]

See also
Professional Board Clears Biden In Two Allegations of Plagiarism
IPBiz notes that the issue, on applying for membership in a state bar, would be full disclosure of past infractions (traffic violations, etc.) and analysis of whether said infractions, disclosed, would adversely impact bar membership. Typically, a state bar would not re-adjudicate past issues that were decided by a different body. Thus, the text that Biden was cleared of allegations that he committed plagiarism in law school by a panel under the authority of the Delaware Supreme Court doesn't, on its face, sound correct. The Delaware Supreme Court would lack jurisdiction to pass judgment on an offense committed within the Syracuse Law School. A body of the Supreme Court of Delaware could say that "what happened at Syracuse did not render Biden unfit to practice law in Delaware." How they could say Biden did, or did not, plagiarize at Syracuse in the 1960's is a mystery.

To fully appreciate that plagiarism DOES VIOLATE disciplinary rules, recall the IPBiz post:
A lawyer who plagiarizes violates disciplinary rules

See also

Joe Biden Plagiarism

***Of google traffic, there seems to be a marked decrease in biden + plagiarism traffic since its high point on Saturday, 23 Aug 2008.


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