It's never a good sign when a presidential candidate is caught cribbing foreign policy notes from Wikipedia -- particularly when that candidate is trying to put himself forward as the more serious and experienced choice in the realm of foreign policy.
A Wikipedia editor emailed Political Wire to point out some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. Given the closeness of the words and sentence structure, most would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.
one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)
one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)
Taegan Goddard has a couple more examples of this over at the link above for those interested, and they are interesting.
But taking a step back, it's always interesting to think about these stories from the perspective of the shoe being on the other foot -- what would the reaction have been had this story come out in relation to the other candidate. In this case, what would have happened had Barack Obama, not John McCain, been caught cheating on the 3 AM test by appropriating from Wikipedia? Heck, what would have happened if a college student, or even a sixth grader, had been exposed for such actions?
This is a major league embarrassment, one that goes a long way towards undercutting the meme that McCain is untouchable on foreign policy. Yes, it is more likely a case of a staffer writing notes for the candidate failing to do all due diligence in researching the day's talking points, instead cutting a corner too closely by taking cues from Wikipedia, than anything else. Still, a candidate must stand by the words out of his mouth even if not anything else. And if McCain is going to go around borrowing from Wikipedia, or even just paraphrasing the site, it makes less believable the argument that he's a real foreign policy heavyweight.
Update [2008-8-11 20:56:55 by Jonathan Singer]:At least one professor wouldn't be happy getting a paper with these types of similarities.
Update [2008-8-11 22:18:36 by Josh Orton]: But who says McCain doesn't understand the internet??
The New York Times reports that a prominently placed section of the John McCain website that was devoted to his wife's cooking recipes was actually copied verbatim from the Food Network:
Until early Tuesday morning, visitors to
John McCain's campaign Web site could find seven of "Cindy's Recipes," among them three elegant and healthful offerings: passion fruit mousse, ahi tuna with Napa cabbage slaw and farfalle pasta with turkey sausage, peas and mushrooms.
Doesn't this mean that John McCain's campaign has engaged in deliberate "plagiarism"? Cornell University's policy on plagiarism says:
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is misrepresenting somebody else's intellectual work - ideas, information, writing, thinking - as your own. In other words, it is a misuse of source material. Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is a serious violation of Cornell's Code of Academic Integrity. Cornell University
For example, in the 1988 Democratic Primary race, "Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock."WaPost.Com
Now we discover that McCain's campaign deliberately took entire recipes from the Food Network and presented them, on McCain's official website, as Cindy McCain's "family recipes," which was a bold-faced lie.
Are John McCain's claims to "straight-talk" really just a lot of flatulence?
Of course, McCain blames the plagiarism on an intern and claims that the intern has been fired. Who is that fired intern? Is he or she available for an interview to confirm or deny the McCain campaign's version of events? Did the same low-level McCain aide plagiarize both the articles published in 2007 and those published a year later, in 2008? That strains credulity.
What's clear now is that the McCain campaign has "plagiarized" and the media, including the New York Times, is loath to use the precise term that most aptly applies.
Obama has "xeroxed" more than just the speeches of fellow David Axelrod client Deval Patrick. He has lifted entire lines from Malcolm X (ironically, to deny that he is a Muslim), Maria Shriver, Alice Walker and "borrowed" the famous slogan of Cesar Chavez ("Yes we can!") This video shows that Obama's disturbing pattern of rhetorical photocopying extends further than we previously knew:
We wouldn't know it from reading the comments from HRC's choir on this blog, but it is turning out that the media narative give just as equal amount of attention to Hillary's awful and poorly delivered quote attacking Obama.
Some of you might have caught Alegre's write-up of last night's debate, where Hillary showed us just how passionate she is about continuing to serve her country as our next Commander in Chief, and of how ready she is to lead. Toward the end she used a very common phrase - whatever happens, we're going to be fine.
Now come on... admit it - you've used that sort of phrase when trying to reassure a loved one, friend or colleague during a tough patch right? It's not like John Edwards is the only person who's used language like this before.
And yet in their desperation to negate Hillary's amazing closing comments in the debate last night, they're doing exactly what they've accused Hillary of doing - finger-pointing over what they're calling plagiarism. Thing is... there's no there there.
Hillary's campaign just released something that points out just how common this phrase is in our lexicon. As Alegre likes to say, "Make the jump for more."