WaPo: Walsh fumbling post-plagiarism scandal

posted at 5:41 pm on July 25, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

In fairness, how exactly does a sitting Senator handle the exposure of his academic fraud? When allegations of academic plagiarism arose with Joe Biden in run-up to the 1988 Democratic presidential primary, Biden shrugged it off as a youthful indiscretion, which was plausible only by the fact that it happened as an undergrad — and skirted around the fact that Biden plagiarized speeches from Neil Kinnock much later in life, including some of Kinnock’s working-class biography. The scandal put a spike through Biden’s presidential ambitions at the time, but his Senate seat was never in danger.

Biden, however, had been elected a number of times to the Senate in a safely Democratic state, not appointed as a favor to get a boost on his first electoral try for the seat in a Republican state. Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) had to do a little more work to excuse his much more recent plagiarism at the Army War College, but the former general keeps throwing fuel on the fire instead of water. At first he blamed PTSD, which angered veterans who truly suffer from the disease, and then tried doubling down with a “fact sheet” that was easily pulled apart on cursory review. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake conducted a thorough fisking of Walsh’s response, which claims that this is just an issue of citation errors:

Walsh doesn’t have a citation problem; he has a plagiarism problem.

As Martin’s story and the accompanying graphics show, Walsh didn’t just fail to cite things, he basically lifted whole blocks of text from other sources — without using those pesky quotation marks. Even if Walsh had correctly cited the works where these words came from, it’s still plagiarism if you pretend like you wrote those sentences. This is a far worse academic sin than a few missing footnotes.

It also takes a pretty big suspension of disbelief to think that Walsh lifted those passages without ill intent. Proving someone’s intent is always difficult, but believing that this was anything other than an attempt to cheat takes some logical leaps that are pretty hard to make.

The “fact sheet” also claimed that “Walsh survived hundreds of IED explosions while in a Humvee” as support for the PTSD claim. Blake also scoffs at this, which Walsh’s office later clarified as surviving a single attack:

If surviving “hundreds of IED explosions” sounds too good to be true, that’s because it didn’t happen. Walsh’s campaign followed up with a correction (which they call a clarification), noting that he personally didn’t survive all those IED attacks….

That’s a pretty glaring factual error, especially for a “fact sheet.”

Chris Cillizza awarded Walsh the “worst week in Washington,” but it’s probably worse in Montana:

What you might have expected Walsh to do was simply apologize. After all, plagiarism typically amounts these days to a venial sin in politics; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) survived plagiarism accusations recently, while Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) weathered them in 2011.

But that’s not what Walsh, who is trailing his GOP opponent in polls leading up to November’s midterm election, decided to do. Rather than just apologize and move on, his campaign chose to savage the story as the work of Republican opposition researchers — um, would that make it not true? — and give a number of excuses for why Walsh did what he did.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Walsh sort of blamed post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq. “My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment,” he said. Which, of course, raises the question: Why didn’t he simply ask for a leave rather than plagiarize? And in a Thursday statement, the campaign called the issue an “unintentional mistake.”

John Walsh, for making excuses when you should have been apologizing, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

While Walsh ties himself up in knots, Democrats insist that they’re sticking by their nominee in Montana — at least for now, but probably not enthusiastically:

Senate Democrats went into full-fledged damage control Thursday to protect embattled Montana Sen. John Walsh, a day after plagiarism revelations that imperil his election hopes this fall.

Despite a mountain of evidence suggesting that Walsh may have obtained a key academic credential improperly, the party leadership, Montana Democrats and members of the rank and file closed ranks behind the appointed senator — arguing that voters should overlook a relatively minor mistake when weighed against his military service in Iraq and career serving his country. …

Democrats hoped that the uproar would soon die down, and Walsh could soon return to regular campaigning. They likened the scandal to the 2010 Connecticut Senate race, when it was revealed that Richard Blumenthal never served in Vietnam, contradicting his numerous assertions that he did, as well as the 2012 controversy over whether Elizabeth Warren improperly cited having Native American heritage to advance in her academic career. Warren and Blumenthal eventually won those races.

But those two races were in deep-blue states — not in red Montana, where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular and where Walsh was only just appointed to the Senate seat in February to fill the vacancy of Max Baucus, now the U.S. ambassador to China. Republicans expressed new confidence in Daines’ chances following the Wednesday report — and some Democrats privately agreed.

“It’s over,” one senior Democratic Senate source said Thursday.

The problem for Democrats is that it’s not a “relatively minor mistake.” Plagiarism on this scale is deliberate, not accidental, and it goes directly to integrity. It’s not a youthful indiscretion either, but a very recent example of Walsh’s actions, taking place just seven years ago. His rush to blame PTSD and obfuscate the circumstances of his service — which was indeed very honorable — in order to play the victim is even more reprehensible. It’s a clear demonstration that voters can’t trust Walsh as their elected representative, and at some point that integrity question will infect other Democrats who insist on publicly standing by Walsh.

For now, it’s easy to offer up a couple of defenses of Walsh from long distance. How many of these Democrats will go out on the stump for Walsh, especially if the Army War College withdraws his degree next month? I’d guess that Walsh becomes invisible to the DSCC and fellow Democrats at that point, and probably to the voters in Montana, too.


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Walsh fumbling post-plagiarism scandal


ONLY
because he’s out of other people’s explanations!

PolAgnostic on July 25, 2014 at 5:44 PM

Vice Presidency is the office that plagiarism levels end at for Democrats.

portlandon on July 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Its Bush’s fault.

BobMbx on July 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Doesn’t the dolt Governor who appointed this idiot have presidential aspirations? This might not reflect well on him.

hip shot on July 25, 2014 at 5:53 PM

42th President was allowed to plagiarize 40th’s last name, and you make a scandal out of some stupid thesis?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Did you read that in a magazine or a clip?

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Memo to Democrats: get every last one of those records sealed away, and throw away the keys.

K-12, undergrad, grad, divorce stuff, everything.

Sting on July 25, 2014 at 6:07 PM

never seen ther guy before except in this picture so it could just be this pic; does anyone else think he looks like olberdork?

t8stlikchkn on July 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Dems sticking with Walsh — for now.

Hell, they stick with obama.

They have NO shame.

Schadenfreude on July 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM

What does HA’s Ned have in common with Walsh, Biden, Goodwin-Kearns and Zacharia?

Schadenfreude on July 25, 2014 at 6:10 PM

An open letter to all my constituents:

Dear {Teacher/School},

I’m very sorry that I plagiarized my {subject} paper. It was discourteous to my fellow classmates, who worked hard on their essays, did the proper research and cited their sources. It was theft to the writers who had the thought in the first place, and it was disrespectful to you.

I’m sorry to have wasted your time with an idea that wasn’t mine. I shouldn’t have tried to use short cuts in my education. I see now that I was simply making things harder on myself. If you will allow me a second chance, I will work to prove to you that I can create ideas of similar caliber, all on my own.

Sincerely,

{Sender}

- Sen. John Walsh

pain train on July 25, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Yup. That’s exactly the caliber of a military general officer we want to become a senator. Supposedly, the best and brightest go to the Army War College, but if this is an example, the rot in our officer corps goes deep. On the other hand he is a Democrat, so that explains it.

Gebirgsjager on July 25, 2014 at 6:12 PM

OT: I just saw a mention of this on Special Report.

Cavuto interviewed the sheriff from the largest county in Boehner’s district–and the county in which Boehner resides. I heard him speak about a year ago. He’s awesome. Some tried to convince him to try to primary Boehner, but national politics aren’t his game. Go to 2:15. Check out Rick Jones. He once sent the president of Mexico a bill for the expense of illegal immigrants.

http://foxnewsinsider.com/2014/07/25/obama-admin-considers-granting-honduran-youths-refugee-status

BuckeyeSam on July 25, 2014 at 6:12 PM

“…but believing that this was anything other than an attempt to cheat takes some logical leaps that are pretty hard to make.”

Calling the intellectual equivalent to jumping the Grand Canyon on a skateboard “pretty hard,” is a bit of an understatement.

RadClown on July 25, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Walsh would apologize, but he can’t find any liberal that ever apologized or admitted to making a mistake, so he can’t plagiarize anyone’s apology.

Or, as his spokesperson said “He’s at a loss for words”.

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Did you read that in a magazine or a clip?

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Did your older brother rape you daily, or just once?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 6:14 PM

He should claim that he is an Indian Chief

faraway on July 25, 2014 at 6:18 PM

42th President was allowed to plagiarize 40th’s last name, and you make a scandal out of some stupid thesis?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Clinton plagiarized Reagan’s last name?

pain train on July 25, 2014 at 6:20 PM

While Walsh ties himself up in knots, Democrats insist that they’re sticking by their nominee in Montana

They can say anything they want but the comments on the story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle indicate Walsh is toast.

jix on July 25, 2014 at 6:22 PM

What’s the difference between this guy and Obama?

Where are Obama’s scholastic records? Where is his License to practice Law?

These people are all FRAUDS.

Key West Reader on July 25, 2014 at 6:23 PM

42th President was allowed …

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

I like it. How do you pronounce that?
Forty tooth?

Dolce Far Niente on July 25, 2014 at 6:23 PM

He should claim that he is an Indian Chief

faraway on July 25, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Snork! Well done!

Key West Reader on July 25, 2014 at 6:24 PM

42th President was allowed …

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Ask yo momma to refuel your Cheeto’s bowl.

/Idiot.

Key West Reader on July 25, 2014 at 6:24 PM

Did you read that in a magazine or a clip?

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Why does everything turn into an argument about gun control?

Dolce Far Niente on July 25, 2014 at 6:25 PM

42th President was allowed to plagiarize 40th’s last name, and you make a scandal out of some stupid thesis?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

How is this thesis stupid ?

burrata on July 25, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Actually, I thought R2bB was quite clever!

Magazine or clip. Good stuff.

BigAlSouth on July 25, 2014 at 6:33 PM

Of course the Dems will stick with him, he epitomizes their value system of lying and cheating.

rplat on July 25, 2014 at 6:35 PM

For this unrepentant clowncar to have the temerity to blame PTSD…

Jedditelol on July 25, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Did your older brother rape you daily, or just once?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 6:14 PM

I see your imagination is growing stronger…

What a weird mind you have…telling how you jumped right to a sexual connotation when confronted.

Let it all out…express those pent up feelings, it’s Friday and you don’t have a date? Jump off HotAir and jump right into Craigslist or hookupforuglyposters.com or whatever you cruise late at night.

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:37 PM

42th President

This is my 1rd time using math numbers. I’ll get better around 2st or 3th time.

BobMbx on July 25, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Actually, I thought R2bB was quite clever!

Magazine or clip. Good stuff.

BigAlSouth on July 25, 2014 at 6:33 PM

He’s upset because he was trying to come off as an “expert” and got schooled using the wrong term…and most everything else wrong in his posts.

He creates imaginary scenarios than puts them out as “possible”…we get posters like him once in awhile, it’s good for a laugh…for awhile.

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:40 PM

42th President was allowed to plagiarize 40th’s last name, and you make a scandal out of some stupid thesis?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Stop smoking that shit.

RadClown on July 25, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Why does everything turn into an argument about gun control?

Dolce Far Niente on July 25, 2014 at 6:25 PM

I haven’t gotten to the black or white part of the post yet…you know where he said “It’s all written in black and white, nothing more to say”…

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:42 PM

This is my 1rd time using math numbers. I’ll get better around 2st or 3th time.

BobMbx on July 25, 2014 at 6:38 PM

That’s funny…

right2bright on July 25, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Rep. Steve Daines is the Republican candidate who is running against Sen. John Walsh for Montana’s Senate seat.

Here is a link to Steve Daines’ campaign website where you can learn more about him:

http://www.stevedaines.com/

If you like what you see on the campaign website, do what you can to support Steve Daines’ campaign for U.S. Senate.

If you live in Montana, please let us all know what you think of Steve Daines.

wren on July 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM

42th President was allowed …

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

I like it. How do you pronounce that?
Forty tooth?

Dolce Far Niente on July 25, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Total dumbsh!t. The jerk should be banned for his reply to right2bright. He’s probably having fun swirling in the toilet bowl just about now.

HiJack on July 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Did your older brother rape you daily, or just once?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 6:14 PM

Did they call you “water head” or “melon head”, during those few years you went to school?

arnold ziffel on July 25, 2014 at 6:55 PM

Biden shrugged it off as a youthful indiscretion, which was plausible only by the fact that it happened as an undergrad

Ed, I think Biden’s plagiarism was when he was in law school, not undergrad.

acasilaco on July 25, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Just one big type-ooooooooooooooooooo

65droptop on July 25, 2014 at 6:58 PM

Plagiarism is bad enough, but, when most of your paper is other peoples’ work, attributed or not, how does that earn a grade?

If he gets a masters degree for turning 8 pages of someone else’s work, INCLUDING THE CONCLUSIONS!, what sort of degree has Matt Drudge earned by now? Master of the Universe?

BobMbx on July 25, 2014 at 7:05 PM

If he gets a masters degree for turning 8 pages of someone else’s work, INCLUDING THE CONCLUSIONS!, what sort of degree has Matt Drudge earned by now? Master of the Universe?

BobMbx on July 25, 2014 at 7:05 PM

I question the academic integrity of the Army War College. And I say that as a graduate of both the Naval War College and Air War College. My work was subject to academic rigor. Why was Army War College so lax? I would hope they do more than just reconsider Walsh’s degree and explore what happened.

Happy Nomad on July 25, 2014 at 7:15 PM

He will release a statement as soon as he can swipe one…

viking01 on July 25, 2014 at 7:56 PM

42th President was allowed to plagiarize 40th’s last name, and you make a scandal out of some stupid thesis?

Rix on July 25, 2014 at 5:54 PM

Bill Clinton was allowed to plagiarize Ronald Reagan’s last name? What the hell does that even mean?

Hayabusa on July 26, 2014 at 12:05 AM

Keep him on the grill long enough for him to burn. Then there will be no need to stick a fork in him.

Nat George on July 26, 2014 at 9:13 AM

If the Walsh slide continues, look for Brian Schweitzer to try and inject himself in as a candidate. He’s the only ‘name’ in the state that could beat Daines, maybe. This story isn’t being kept under wraps, either. It was on the front page of the Missoulian which isn’t a conservative rag. They did run an AP story along side the ‘news’ that kinda sorta makes excuses for what Walsh did and said about it.

Kissmygrits on July 26, 2014 at 10:50 AM

I like Danies and have his bumper sticker on my truck. Will vote for him.

Kissmygrits on July 26, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Use quotation marks. Say “According to…blah blah blah…” Refer to the source and say you agree with it. Just say who said it. You look well read. For a thesis you should really be reading or at least aware of every important source, and the opposing viewpoints…

Fleuries on July 26, 2014 at 11:59 AM