Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) ran into some trouble last week when The Rachel Maddow Show, BuzzFeed, and Politico uncovered several instances in which the senator delivered public remarks presenting others’ work as his own. The Kentucky Republican’s original response suggested he wasn’t sure what “plagiarism” means.
The story has taken several twists and turns since, including Paul’s Senate office starting to make it harder to get the text of the senator’s speeches. Andrew Kaczynski advanced the story on Saturday, discovering that Paul’s 2013 book “borrowed” several hundred words of text from other sources, including reports from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. Kaczynski reported, “Paul included a link to the Heritage case study in the book’s footnotes, though he made no effort to indicate that not just the source, but the words themselves, had been taken from Heritage.” On the Cato portions, “The text was once again cited in the footnotes but the words were passed off as Sen. Paul’s.”
Paul talked to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos yesterday, who asked about the controversy. The entire transcript of the interview is online here, but to briefly summarize, the senator complained about “the footnote police,” complained some more about “the standard” he’s being held to, and added this rather striking conclusion:
“[U]nder thousands of things I’ve written, yeah, there are times when they’ve been sloppy or not correct or we’ve made an error. But the difference is I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never intentionally done so.
“And like I say, if – you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it’d be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”
Moments later, Paul added, “I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters.”
There seems to be some ongoing confusion on the senator’s part about the nature of the controversy, which may be causing him to lose his cool. Perhaps I can help by highlighting the basics:
1. Rand Paul presented others’ work as his own several times.
2. Rand Paul got caught.
3. Rand Paul has not yet explained how or why he presented others’ work as his own.
I’m at a loss as to why this is proving to be so difficult for the senator. The issue shouldn’t have anything to do with his personal feelings towards those who uncovered his missteps. Whether or not he’d like to shoot – or shoot at – journalists who uncovered his wrongdoing shouldn’t matter, either.
As for Paul complaining about the “standard” he’s “going to be held to,” the sitting U.S. senator is facing the same scrutiny routinely applied to 14 year olds, who’ve been taught that copying and pasting text from Wikipedia without attribution is a big no-no.
What is it, specifically, that Rand Paul considers “unfair”?