Obama’s Veep Pick: Famous Plagiarist Joe Biden?! Bwa Ha Ha!!

by Gina Cobb | August 23, 2008 5:03 am

Well, this should be a hoot!

If Obama has indeed picked Joseph Biden as his vice presidential running mate[1], what a gift to punditry!

Let’s see . . .

Biden’s claims to fame include repeated plagiarism[2] AND being rude and condescending AND being a bit of a gaffe machine[3] AND being prone to logorrhea[4] (or, as put more succinctly as Dr. Melissa Clouthier[5], he’s a "bloviating, self-important wind-bag.")  Biden also said that Obama lacked the experience to be president and strongly opposed the Iraq surge that worked[6], claiming it would be a "tragic mistake."

I wonder which of these traits attracted Barack Obama to Biden?

Does Obama actually want to win this election?  What kind of a choice is Joe Biden?  It’s the Audacity of What the Heck.

Yes, I know Joe Biden has lots of pretend national security experience, but it consists mainly of his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — the political spoils that go with being in the Senate a long time — and bunch of trips to Iraq, interspersed with shooting his mouth off in a semi-random fashion.

Was Obama not paying attention in 1987 when Joe Biden’s presidential campaign went down in flames after he was caught plagiarizing a speech from British Labor Party leader Neal Kinnock[7] and passing it off as his own?  Does Obama not care that Biden’s history of plagiarism date back to law school, and he flunked a course for it?:

In 1965 Biden plagiarized while writing a paper as a student at the Syracuse University Law School in a legal methods course which he failed because of that copied paper.  . . . .

In an article entitled “Biden’s Belly Flop”, Newsweek printed Joe Biden’s yearbook picture from his college days and a copy of his law school transcripts with the big “F” in his transcripts circled. Biden was given a chance to repeat his legal methods course, and above the “F” his retake grade of 80% was eventually penciled in. Being a repeat offender when it came to plagiarism made things much, much worse for Biden than they might have been otherwise in his failed bid for the Democratic presidential ticket in 1987.

Senator Biden’s plagiarism of a speech by British Labor Party leader Neal Kinnock took place at a campaign stump at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. In closing his speech, Biden took Kinnock’s ideas and language as if they were his very own inspired thoughts, prefacing Kinnock’s ideas with the phrase “I started thinking as I was coming over here . . . “. Little did Biden suspect that video footage of this speech would be spliced together with footage of Kinnock’s speech in an “attack video” which would be distributed by members of the Dukakis campaign.

Making the headline news in the New York Times, and the evening news on TV, the video was a stab in the back for Biden by his democratic competitor, and although he insisted that “I’m in this race to stay. I’m in this race to win,” the resulting publicity surrounding his unacknowledged use of Neal Kinnock’s speech was what eventually forced him out of the race. Name recognition was no longer a problem for Biden, but not the kind of name recognition which would assist his campaign for the democratic presidential nomination. His name was now a byword for plagiarism. His situation became a classic example of plagiarism for high school teachers and college instructors across the nation lecturing on the evils of unacknowledged source use.

Biden initially denied any wrongdoing, claiming that this was just an inadvertent lack of acknowledgement. Yet there were other instances of rhetorical borrowing from speeches made by Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. And the fact that Biden had given other speeches using the Kinnock passages without acknowledgment suggested that the lifting was more than just an inadvertent oversight.

Here’s more[8]:

Biden also released at the same time the record of his grades as an undergraduate which were C’s and D’s with the exception of two A’s in physical education, one B in a course on English writers and an F in ROTC during his first three semesters. His grades improved later in his undergraduate career but were not exceptional. Further, when questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school Biden had claimed falsely to have graduated in the "top half" of his class, (when he actually graduated 76th in a class of 85) that he had attended on a full scholarship, and had received three degrees.  In fact he had received a single B.A. in history and political science and a half scholarship based on financial need.

I’m curious what it takes to get an F in ROTC. That’s a special claim to fame!

I’ve never been a fan of Biden.  Aside from his history of plagiarism, Biden has a notably poor temperament. As I’ve written[9]:

To me, Biden is an irritating combination of a mental lightweight attempting to conceal the fact and a bully.  (Probably the too are related.)

I did enjoy this passage from Peggy Noonan’s latest column[10]:

"The great thing about Joe Biden during the Alito hearings, the reason he is, to me, actually endearing, is that as he speaks, as he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals, and free associations–as he demonstrates yet again, as he did in the Roberts hearings and even the Thomas hearings, that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back–you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going. I love him. He’s human, like a garrulous uncle after a drink."

Biden[11] I’m not sure whether Peggy Noonan remembers the "endearing"[12] way that Senator Biden addressed Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts during his recent confirmation hearing.  Rush Limbaugh’s website has the audio[13] from the same Roberts hearing.  The Senator couldn’t seem to dignify Judge Roberts with his name — it was "Judge" instead of "Judge Roberts," unless it was "judge, judge" or "man," as in "Well, I hope you don’t still hold that view, man."  The disrespectful tone was gratuitous and palpable.  And that’s hard for me to respect.

Sure, Biden’s natural rudeness will make him a useful attack dog for Obama, but that comes at price.

This will be increasingly funny as the campaign progresses.  Biden has been too loose and independent for too long.  I question his ability to put a sock in it.  His selection will come back to haunt the campaign.

Cross-posted at GINA COBB[14]

  1. picked Joseph Biden as his vice presidential running mate: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/08/us-secret-servi.html
  2. repeated plagiarism: http://www.famousplagiarists.com/politics.htm
  3. gaffe machine: http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/8/23/11532/4129
  4. prone to logorrhea: http://betsyspage.blogspot.com/2007/01/logorrhea-of-senator-joe-biden.html
  5. Dr. Melissa Clouthier: http://drmelissaclouthier.blogspot.com/2007/01/bidens-logorrhea.html
  6. strongly opposed the Iraq surge that worked: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden
  7. caught plagiarizing a speech from British Labor Party leader Neal Kinnock: http://www.famousplagiarists.com/politics.htm
  8. more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden
  9. written: http://ginacobb.typepad.com/gina_cobb/2006/01/joe_biden_amusi.html
  10. column: http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110007800
  11. [Image]: http://ginacobb.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/biden.jpg
  12. "endearing": http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/13/AR2005091300979.html
  13. audio: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://section3.net/media/images/phusebox_blog_images/biden.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.slowitdown.net/beck/archives/2005_09.html&h=140&w=236&sz=8&tbnid=4waeiRsGTHop8M:&tbnh=61&tbnw=104&hl=en&start=14&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbiden%2Broberts%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D
  14. GINA COBB: http://ginacobb.typepad.com/

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