The following editorial appeared Thursday in the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.
It’s hard to know where to start with Sen. Rand Paul’s reaction to legitimate criticism of his repeated plagiarism of other authors.
Paul said he accepted responsibility and then went on quickly to slough it off, laying it on his rapid ascent to national prominence, which he sought relentlessly; on his staff, whom he hired; and finally, of course, on “the haters” who just want to bring the great man down.
Paul appears to believe profoundly in his own exceptionalism, including that the rules don’t apply to him. Even worse, he now wants to rewrite the rules.
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Weaseling around the plagiarism charges relative to his wholesale, unattributed quoting of Wikipedia’s description of the film “Gattaca,” Paul said it wasn’t really plagiarism because he didn’t claim he had the idea for the movie.
He might have gotten a pass on that last week, but by Monday he should have taken the trouble to look up a definition of plagiarism.
Wikipedia, a source we know he trusts, describes it as using someone else’s “language, thoughts, ideas or expressions” without attribution. So, of course, stealing ideas is plagiarism, but so is appropriating the language and expressions of others without giving them credit. Which is just what Paul has done.
Say what he will about the “haters,” Paul was cut loose by The Washington Times, a conservative redoubt, which canceled his weekly column after discovering that he had lifted language from a columnist in another publication. “We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material,” the editor wrote.
Trying to put this behind him, Paul said that he and his staff will attribute sources “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”
A curious remark for someone who has sought attention at every turn, grandstanding at Senate hearings, touring television talk shows, accepting speaking invitations in states critical to a presidential bid.
Paul’s sense of self-grandeur is so great that, like a pouting child, he threatened to leave politics altogether if everyone keeps being mean to him. “People can think what they want. I can go back to being a doctor any time,” he said.
If he can’t do any better than this when the heat is on, even those who were Paul “lovers” might be ready to say, “OK, go.”