The plagiarism scandal is starting to get to Sen. Rand Paul. When asked about it on ABC’s This Week, Paul went on a rambling and incoherent discussion about footnotes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what’s the fix?
PAUL: Well, we’re going to have to footnote things, like I say. But here’s the problem, George. Ninety-eight percent of my speeches are extemporaneous. I spoke for 13 hours on the floor extemporaneous. And so it is a little bit hard to footnote things accurately. And I will give you an example.
I love the quote from Niall Ferguson, you know, referring to the president, saying, the deficit is declining, and now Ferguson says, yes, from super-enormous to really, really gigantic. And I love the quote.
But is that enough or do I have to say, as I heard or read on an AP story about Niall Ferguson, or as I heard when he was on with George Stephanopoulos? I mean, there is a sort of a certain degree when we’re going to say, is that nitpicking?
So is referring to the person enough or do I have to refer to the original source, where I got the quote from, the person? In an academic paper, even if you paraphrase something, don’t even use the same words, anything paraphrased has to be sourced.
So when I wrote scientific papers, I sometimes had statements with eight footnotes for one sentence. Is that what you want me to do for my speeches? If it’s required, I’ll do it. But I think I’m being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters. And I’m just not going to put up with people casting aspersions on my character.
Sen Paul’s entire babbling about footnotes response went on for about 600 mostly incoherent words. It is almost as if Paul is thinking that if he can bury his plagiarism problem under mini-filibusters about footnotes, people will eventually lose interest and this will all blow over.
Sen. Paul is still trying to confuse the issue. This isn’t about proper citation. It is about Sen. Paul stealing the work of others in his speeches, but it goes beyond his speeches. It turns out that Sen. Paul plagiarized an entire section of his book Government Bullies. Rand Paul is not an ideas person. His political career is based on his last name and his father’s political operation, but Paul can’t seem to describe the plotline of a movie in his own words.
What this scandal has done is to confirm everything that was already suspected about Sen. Paul. He will still run for president in two years. He will raise lots of money. The people who voted for his dad will come out again and vote for him, but Rand Paul isn’t presidential material. A serious presidential contender doesn’t try to dig his way out of trouble by rambling on about footnotes on national television.
Paul is trying to change the subject and bury the story under an endless discussion of footnoting. Plagarism will get the headlines. Footnoting is boring. Paul’s use of the term footnoting makes me question how long it has been since he wrote an academic paper, because footnoting isn’t used anymore.
His whining about hacks and haters reveals how weak his defense is. People are going to keep digging into his speeches and past. The odds are that they are going to find more plagiarism. Since the Republican Party is so anti-intellectual, I doubt that they will care about plagiarism. But in terms of the rest of the country, Sen. Paul’s goose is cooked.