Uh oh: Democratic senator from Montana accused of plagiarism in Army War College assignment; Update: I had PTSD, says Walsh

As any writer or academic will tell you, it’s the only crime worse than murder.

The bad news: He’s likely done as a senator. The good news: He’s now eligible to be vice president.

Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.

On Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh did not contest the plagiarism but suggested that it be viewed in the context of the senator’s long career. She said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due…

About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks.

The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.

Follow the link up top for more evidence. Walsh says he doesn’t think he committed plagiarism and certainly didn’t do it intentionally, but that won’t hack it:

This isn’t the first time he’s been accused of lying about a credential. Martin notes in his NYT story that Walsh listed SUNY Albany as his undergrad alma mater in the congressional directory when in fact he had graduated from Regents College, an adult-learning school that’s part of the SUNY system. (That’s not the end of his scandals either.) The big question now: What does this mean for November’s midterm outlook?

The answer: It means … nothing. Or barely nothing. Walsh was appointed to the Senate five months ago to fill Max Baucus’s vacancy; it’s not impossible to win as a Democrat in Montana, as both Baucus and Jon Tester can tell you, but it’s difficult as a short-term incumbent in a political climate that’s trending GOP. The rosiest polls for Walsh right now have him trailing Republican Steve Daines by around seven points. The bleakest polls have him down 20 or more. (The RCP average has Daines by 12.5 points.) Walsh’s plagiarism is insurance that that lead will hold, but let’s face it, it was almost certainly going to hold anyway. And if you’re inside the Democratic brain trust and worried about the effect of one candidate’s scandal tarring the party in general, plagiarism’s about as easy as it gets to contain. It’s an idiosyncrasy specific to the individual, not an obvious corruption of normal political business like, say, bribe-taking would be. Frankly, I wonder how much non-academics will even care. It can be deployed by Daines if need be as evidence of his opponent’s character deficiency, but if Daines ends up in a situation where Walsh’s plagiarism scandal is the only thing standing between him and victory, then something’s gone badly, badly wrong this fall for the GOP. The race used to be a lay-up. Now it’s a slam dunk.

Exit question: The NYT says the paper with the (alleged) plagiarism in it was “the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree.” The headline describes it as a “thesis.” His master’s thesis was 14 pages long?

Update: He had PTSD, therefore he couldn’t … use quotation marks?

There’s no logic to that defense but it serves the purpose of shielding him from criticism. If you fault the guy for plagiarizing sources, you hate veterans. QED.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on December 01, 2022