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Should Biden's Plagiarism (and Puffery) Still Matter?

Historian David Greenberg thinks that the plagiarism and puffery that drove Senator Biden from the presidential race in 1988 are "worth recalling in detail." He writes:

Biden's misdeeds encompassed numerous self-aggrandizing thefts, misstatements, and exaggerations that seemed to point to a serious character defect. In some ways, the 1988 campaign—in which scandal forced not just Biden but also Gary Hart from the race—marked a watershed in the absurd gotcha politics that have since marred our politics and punditry. But unlike Hart's plight, Biden's can't be blamed on an overly intrusive or hectoring press corps. The press was right to dig into this one.

Greenberg doesn't argue that these misdeeds should have disqualified Biden, but he also thinks the press should revisit the story and ensure the propensity for lifting language and inflating his own experience has not continued.

The sheer number and extent of Biden's fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms struck many observers at the time as worrisome, to say the least. While a media feeding frenzy (a term popularized in the 1988 campaign) always creates an unseemly air of hysteria, Biden deserved the scrutiny he received. Quitting the race was the right thing to do.

Twenty-one years on, how much should Biden's past behavior matter? In and of itself, the plagiarism episode shouldn't automatically disqualify Biden from regaining favor and credibility, especially if in the intervening two decades he's not done more of the same, as seems to be the case. But no one has looked into it. The press should give his record since 1988 a thorough vetting. It's worth knowing whether the odds-on favorite to be our next vice president has truly reformed himself of behavior that can often be the mark of a deeply troubled soul.

(LvPB)

GV:
Perhaps while it's looking into that, it can bring this up as well?
8.26.2008 9:19am
mad the swine (mail):
"Greenberg doesn't argue that these misdeeds should have disqualified Biden[...]"

Why not? Is it really too much to ask that the President and Vice President of the United States, the public faces of America to the outer world, be men of honor and dignity and exceptional moral virtue (flamebait) like George Bush has been (/flamebait), instead of being known for adulteries and dishonesties and corrupt real estate deals and arrogant, elitist contempt? But then, I suppose once you've fallen far enough to embrace atheistic socialism, little moral flaws like the above really don't register anymore...

(Seriously, I'm not joking about George Bush. For all the political criticism he's come in for, even his worst enemies admit his personal life has been above reproach.)
8.26.2008 9:38am
MGoBlue (mail):
1988, not 1998.
8.26.2008 9:41am
alkali (mail):
Seriously, I'm not joking about George Bush. For all the political criticism he's come in for, even his worst enemies admit his personal life has been above reproach.

To review, Bush (i) engaged in excessive drinking over a series of years (which he admits); (ii) refused to comment on whether he used drugs in the 1970s, (iii) had a spotty record in his Texas Air National Guard service, and (iv) was criticized heavily for trading on his family name in his business career, including in connection with the eminent domain acquisition that preceded the construction of Rangers Ballpark. I certainly don't contend that any of those things are disqualifying or make him a bad guy -- none of us are perfect, least of all your humble narrator -- but to suggest that Bush has never, ever been criticized on the basis of his personal conduct is just silly.
8.26.2008 9:50am
Sarcastro (www):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall Bush was a monk meditating on God 2 years ago. And Laura Bush was bicycling around Africa, handing out alms to the poor.

Neither had any problems with alcohol or drugs or driving.

The important thing, of course, is that Republicans are more virtuous than Democrats. If it weren't for the Liberal em-ess-em, we would see this and associate it with their superior policies and religeon.
8.26.2008 9:58am
Will Lewis (mail) (www):
Seriously, I'm not joking about George Bush. For all the political criticism he's come in for, even his worst enemies admit his personal life has been above reproach.

To harp on this a bit more, the most accepted explanation for why Bush lost the popular election in 2000 was the extensive advertising run on the Thursday before the election highlighting his undisclosed arrest for DUI in 1976. This "youthful indiscretion" occurred at age 30, well past President Bush's youth.
8.26.2008 10:02am
Sarcastro (www):
I'm shocked at Biden'y fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms! You'd think he was in Congress!
8.26.2008 10:06am
Eric Muller (www):
When do we find out for sure whether John McCain suffers from PTSD or other mood, anxiety, or depressive disorders as a consequence of being tortured in prolonged Vietnamese captivity and attempting suicide while in captivity?

One we've got all of the available medical and psychiatric records on that issue, I'll start thinking about whether Joe Biden's plagiarism of Neil Kinnock matters.

Until then, I'll mostly be worrying about the extent to which John McCain's vicious torture by his captures scarred him in the ways that we know it scars most other human beings.
8.26.2008 10:13am
Eric Muller (www):
"captures" should have been "captors".
8.26.2008 10:13am
Happyshooter:
alkali, to take your four thing in order:

Bush (i) engaged in excessive drinking over a series of years (which he admits);

Yes, he admitted this

(ii) refused to comment on whether he used drugs in the 1970s,

Okay

(iii) had a spotty record in his Texas Air National Guard service, and

No, he didn't. I know this is your side's mantra, but he served. I also served in the national guard and when I was admitted to University of Michigan Law I had an annual training (17 days, with the two weeks plus a MUTA 5)scheduled for the second month of classes. Not only did the commander excuse me from all guard duties for the first semester, he wrote me a nice letter about getting in. I was just an enlisted man. Bush Jr was an officer, and would have gotten the same consideration or better just because he was an officer.

(iv) was criticized heavily for trading on his family name in his business career, including in connection with the eminent domain acquisition that preceded the construction of Rangers Ballpark.

Okay, which is also why he got into skull and bones, why he knew businessmen to get into deals with, why he got to run texas, and why he got to run for president. That is what having a famous and powerful father and grandfather does. What is important is that he didn't squander the name or ruin it as so many do in that situtation.
8.26.2008 10:13am
Anderson (mail):
even his worst enemies admit his personal life has been above reproach

Well, yes, I can see where someone who gets all his info from FoxNews would think that.

I think Biden's screwup was a black mark on him, but I don't really expect any politicians to be free of black marks. Compared to McCain's adultery, for instance, it seems pretty trivial.
8.26.2008 10:15am
Anderson (mail):
but I don't really expect any politicians to be free of black marks

Except for Obama, of course, who I hear is *insufficiently* black.

(Didn't mean to set myself up like that, but so long as I did ....)
8.26.2008 10:16am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Plagiarism in a political stump speech is about as serious an offense as plagiarism in a cheerleading routine or a blues song. Aren't all these types of performances basically the same?

Had he published academic articles or something similar it would be important. But a rah-rah stump speech talking about pulling himself up by his bootstraps and the American Dream? It's not exactly original stuff. Nor should anybody expect it to be.

Might as well castigate McCain for "plagiarizing" the corny old jokes he tells.
8.26.2008 10:18am
zippypinhead:
Maybe I was hallucinating, but I could have sworn that every Sunday morning news-ish program I tuned in this weekend played back-to-back clips of Neil Kinnock and Joe Biden doing their "first-to-go-to-university" riffs?

I'm not too worried about elements of the press overlooking the possibility of post-1988 plagiarism incidents in Biden's record. It's too obvious an area for glory and cheap headlines (not necessarily in that order of priority). And if the press misses any, I'm sure RNC opposition research will gleefully point them out.

Most likely, after his 1988 crash-and-burn, Biden has been extraordinarily careful to avoid any statements that might give rise to new plagiarism accusations. It's been clear for years that he has been working on rehabilitating his image -- apparently at least in part to lay the groundwork for his 2008 run at the Democratic nomination. Biden may have had a crummy GPA at a tier-2 law school, but he's simply not SO dumb as to shoot himself with the same gun in the same foot all over again...
8.26.2008 10:22am
A.W. (mail):
I'll tell you that the notion that somehow because they caught him before that we shouldn't care at all now is one of the most morally blinkered concepts in american politics.

I don't think plagerism is the worst sin possible; its more of a theft of intellectual property than anything else. But that being said, we should give it exactly as much creedence as if we discovered it yesterday.
8.26.2008 10:28am
Waldensian (mail):

(ii) refused to comment on whether he used drugs in the 1970s,

Are we in agreement that this means Bush DID use drugs in the 1970s? Or does somebody think he's taking this "no comment" stand as a matter of principle? Just wondering.

With respect to the DUI, it's clear that Bush simply drives better loaded than Ted Kennedy. The only thing separating the two in this case is moral luck; one of them killed somebody, one didn't. Oh, and Bush was 30.
8.26.2008 10:32am
JosephSlater (mail):
Not to derail this fascinating topic (I agree that maybe the Keating 5 would be the right comparison), but Hoosier, if you don't mind me asking, when were you at Michigan Law? And so you have both a JD and history PhD? I ask because I went to Michigan Law (a long time ago) before getting a history PhD. Feel free to e-mail me privately.
8.26.2008 10:33am
byomtov (mail):
was criticized heavily for trading on his family name in his business career, including in connection with the eminent domain acquisition that preceded the construction of Rangers Ballpark.

Okay, which is also why he got into skull and bones, why he knew businessmen to get into deals with, why he got to run texas, and why he got to run for president. That is what having a famous and powerful father and grandfather does. What is important is that he didn't squander the name or ruin it as so many do in that situtation.

He sure tried to squander it. Take a look at his business career. It was a series of failures, from which he was rescued by his father's friends. He got a chunk of the Texas Rangers essentially for his political pull.

As to whether he ruined the name as President, I think there are some differences of opinion about that.
8.26.2008 10:35am
Hoosier:
If I can put aside the "so's your mutha" comments about Republicans coming from some of the readers, a question:

Wasn't it obvious that these issues would come up again if Biden was chosen? And, since I think it was obvious, what was it about Biden that made Obama decide to take the plunge with him anyway?

My point: There were safer candidates who could have given Obama what Biden brings? Was it the perception that these others (let's say Nunn or Bayh) would not be as good on the attack as Biden?

I have been accused of bias on this matter before, since I was a strong advocate of Bayh. But, to the extent that I can, I am trying to put aside my Hoosier Derangement Syndrome. From my best analysis of this choice, it doesn't strike me as being all that wise. But Biden's virture (or "virtue") as a Number Two seems to be that he's willing to do the dirty work. He'll be the Spiro Agnew if need be. Was this the deciding factor?
8.26.2008 10:37am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Eric --

Two things. First, one of the thing's that's interesting about Greenberg's article is that it shows that the Kinnock plagiarism was just the tip of the iceberg.

As for McCain, I think his temperament is a valid concern. I don't know whether it's due to his captivity, but he was known a a Queeg-like committee chairman during my time in D.C., and it's one of the reason's I've been luke-warm on his candidacy.

GV -- Go ahead and bring up the "Keating Five." It should certainly be looked into. As it happens, though, there's really not much there. The only reason McCain was included in the group under investigation was to make the scandal "bipartisan," and McCain was cleared of any improprieties, and only criticized for a poor exercise of judgment. There are plenty of reasons to criticize McCain, but this is not one of them.

JHA
8.26.2008 10:38am
Hoosier:
Uh_Clem :
Plagiarism in a political stump speech is about as serious an offense as plagiarism in a cheerleading routine or a blues song. Aren't all these types of performances basically the same?

Had he published academic articles or something similar it would be important. But a rah-rah stump speech talking about pulling himself up by his bootstraps and the American Dream? It's not exactly original stuff. Nor should anybody expect it to be.


That's pretty much how I see it. I suppose it was agravated a bit by his seemingly off-hand way of bringing it up: "Didn't he say something like "I was thinking the other day . . . "? Or some thing like that?

But politicians running for national office don't write their own speeches anyway. Nor even their own articles most of the time. So I can't really get bent out of shape over this.
8.26.2008 10:40am
Hoosier:
JosephSlater: I'd email you privately, were it not for the fact that I want to clear this up:

I never went to law school. Let alone a sterling LS like Michigan.

Perhaps my brilliance has led to that perception. On the other hand, isn't that where Anne Coulter got her JD? So perhaps that isn't the reason.


I do have a PhD in history. Which is why I sell my plasma for grocery money every Saturday morning.
8.26.2008 10:45am
Shertaugh:
When did this blog become a pro-McCain echo chamber?

Also . . . yeah, what Eric Muller said. Manchurian Candidate?
8.26.2008 10:45am
Simon P:
This is not an issue. Plagiarism may be a high crime in academia, but it's fairly common and acceptable in the working world. In the political realm, the important question is not, "Are these the candidate's own words," but, "Are these good policies?" If Biden knows a good idea from a bad idea, then it's irrelevant whether those ideas are his own or someone else's.
8.26.2008 10:49am
Smokey:
Anderson:

"Compared to McCain's adultery, for instance, it seems pretty trivial."

Well, aren't we just a morality judging busybody today? You forget, Anderson, that morals don't matter to libs.

So let's compare thing that matter to the country:

On the one hand, we have an empty suit who had it extra easy due to Affirmative Action. Other than AA-assisted accomplishments, his maximum personal 'accomplishment' was as a community organizer. heh.

On the other hand, we have a true war hero, who demonstrated real character when it counted. Watching the liberals try to prop up their simpleton and try to disparage the standup guy, who took years of savage beatings when just a little bit of collaboration would have made life much easier, is a hoot.
8.26.2008 10:54am
David Warner:
"Plagiarism in a political stump speech is about as serious an offense as plagiarism in a cheerleading routine or a blues song."

But isn't there a judgment issue here? I mean, Neil Kinnock? Were Micheal Foot's archives under lock and key at UIC at the time or something?

Mostly joking. Not entirely.
8.26.2008 10:55am
Sarcastro (www):
Thank GOD Smokey finally pointed out McCain is a POW! A POW! Such qualifications! POW!

Any moral failings don't matter next to the fact that he was held in a prison camp. McCain didn't have a hot, rich heiris for like 6 years, cause he was in a prison camp.

Biden commited plagarism 20 years ago. McCain, on the other hand, was a POW.

Have you guys heard about McCain? He was a POW!
8.26.2008 10:58am
Blue:

Plagiarism may be a high crime in academia, but it's fairly common and acceptable in the working world. In the political realm, the important question is not, "Are these the candidate's own words," but, "Are these good policies?"


Bollocks. When a guy is making a claim about his personal life as the child of a miner and it turns out the claim is a lie then the "good policy" justification simply doesn't hold water.
8.26.2008 10:59am
Anderson (mail):
but he was known a a Queeg-like committee chairman during my time in D.C., and it's one of the reason's I've been luke-warm on his candidacy.

Yeah, during the primaries, my GOP relative with some D.C. connections had heard VERY bad things about McCain's temper ... blowing up at his own pollsters b/c he didn't like what they were telling him.

Just what we need for 4 more years -- a president who makes his flunkies afraid to bring him bad news.

You forget, Anderson, that morals don't matter to libs.

Smokey, look up -- yes, above you. See that? That's contempt.
8.26.2008 11:00am
Simon P:
Blue: How would lying about his personal life bear upon his duties as Vice President?
8.26.2008 11:04am
Blue:
Simon, one would think that question answers itself.
8.26.2008 11:20am
Simon P:
Blue: Perhaps, but let's make the explanation explicit. I'm apparently too dense to grasp it on my own.
8.26.2008 11:28am
MarkField (mail):

JosephSlater: I'd email you privately, were it not for the fact that I want to clear this up:

I never went to law school. Let alone a sterling LS like Michigan.

Perhaps my brilliance has led to that perception. On the other hand, isn't that where Anne Coulter got her JD? So perhaps that isn't the reason.


I do have a PhD in history. Which is why I sell my plasma for grocery money every Saturday morning.


I had a moment of horror until you restored my faith.
8.26.2008 11:35am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Hey, I remember this debate from 2000!

On the other hand, we have a true war hero, who demonstrated real character when it counted. Watching the conservatives try to prop up their simpleton and try to disparage the standup guy, who took years of savage beatings when just a little bit of collaboration would have made life much easier, is a hoot.

And yet Bush easily won the nomination.
8.26.2008 11:36am
Roger Schlafly (www):
(ii) refused to comment on whether he used drugs in the 1970s,
Are we in agreement that this means Bush DID use drugs in the 1970s?
Certainly not. That is like saying that a criminal defendant must be guilty if he does not testify at his trial. No, readers of a legal blog will not assume that. Bush had a policy of not answering certain personal questions. Good for him.
8.26.2008 11:38am
Brian Mac:

With respect to the DUI, it's clear that Bush simply drives better loaded than Ted Kennedy. The only thing separating the two in this case is moral luck; one of them killed somebody, one didn't.

Don't forget Ted's heroic rescue attempts!
8.26.2008 11:39am
LM (mail):

Certainly not. That is like saying that a criminal defendant must be guilty if he does not testify at his trial. No, readers of a legal blog will not assume that. Bush had a policy of not answering certain personal questions. Good for him.

Criminal conviction requires a higher standard of proof than common sense inference.
8.26.2008 11:44am
ejo:
because all veterans, particularly viet nam veterans, came home mentally ill. after all, I saw Coming Home and that's what it told me. Deer Hunter as well. Born on the Fourth of July too.

A temper makes one mentally ill? certainly, it may be a flaw, depending on the person, but mentally ill? wonder where the profs getting his talking points from?
8.26.2008 11:46am
common sense (www):
I'd like to throw something in on the difference between Kennedy and Bush with regards to drunk driving. The main difference, in my mind, is what Kennedy did to escape the consequences of his drunk driving. They were both equally at fault for drunk driving, and yes, Bush was lucky that he did not kill anyone, as all drunk drivers are. However, he did not kill anyone. I personally support much harsher penalties for drunk driving, but since we are generally lax as a society in this regard, drunk driving is unfortunately common. However, killing a young girl and then immediately seeking legal advice is not very common (or so I hope, maybe I'm being naive).
8.26.2008 11:46am
loki13 (mail):
Hey, I'm about to plagiarize (it's fun)!

Some posters here (Smokwy) only know three words when it comes to John McCain:

A noun, a verb, and POW.
8.26.2008 11:47am
SATA_Interface:
Does anyone know if Smokey or maybe ejo are working at the Starbucks today? I need a little more froth for my venti limousine latte, and it looks like they brought enough for everyone.

So what's the over-under on Romney for veep pick? If McCain grabs him, it's not looking good for the Dems. Maybe Rove's 2000 campaign team will come out of the woodwork and smear McCain again at the 11th hour or something...
8.26.2008 11:47am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Quite picking on poor Biden. He was trying to save the planet from Global Warming and all you can do is attack him. He was helping to protect Mother Earth by recycling old speeches. Think of how much energy he saved by not having to write a new speech.
8.26.2008 11:51am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
(ii) refused to comment on whether he used drugs in the 1970s,


Are we in agreement that this means Bush DID use drugs in the 1970s?


Certainly not. That is like saying that a criminal defendant must be guilty if he does not testify at his trial. No, readers of a legal blog will not assume that. Bush had a policy of not answering certain personal questions. Good for him.


Agreed and moreover Democrats have had about eight years to dig into this and they have yet to find a single person who was willing to go on the record that they witnessed GWB ever using illegal drugs.
8.26.2008 11:52am
trad and anon:
"Compared to McCain's adultery, for instance, it seems pretty trivial."

Well, aren't we just a morality judging busybody today? You forget, Anderson, that morals don't matter to libs.
I think you're going to have to try better than "my special browniesmind-reading skilz tell me that even though your criticism is meritorious and eminently warranted, you secretly don't care about it, therefore it's without merit."
So let's compare thing that matter to the country:

On the one hand, we have an empty suit who had it extra easy due to Affirmative Action. Other than AA-assisted accomplishments, his maximum personal 'accomplishment' was as a community organizer. heh.
Right, affirmative action makes life as a black person so easy these days. Affirmative action is why no white person has graduated in the top 10% at Harvard Law since 1960. It's also why U of C's faculty is chock-full of black kids raised by single parents. If only there were some other social force that might counteract the effects of affirmative action . . .

And John McCain never benefited from affirmative action at all. Naval Academy admissions were a bastion of perfect equality in 1953 and being a rich white admiral's son didn't help one bit.
8.26.2008 11:58am
trad and anon:
I need a little more froth for my venti limousine latte, and it looks like they brought enough for everyone.

Your venti arugula limousine latte.
8.26.2008 12:02pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
In a world where Presidents have fleets of speechwriters, we should all know that everything that comes out of their mouths is plagiarism. William Safire put words in Richard Nixon's mouth. Peggy Noonan came up with "a kinder, gentler nation," and "a thousand points of light."

But at least Noonan was on Reagan's and GHW's payroll, one might argue. Kinnock got no royalties when Biden used his words. But from Greenberg's description, Biden's plagiarism seems unintentional at least.

At first Biden would credit Kinnock when he quoted him. But at some point he failed to offer the attribution...

Biden lifted Kinnock's precise turns of phrase and his sequences of ideas... the even greater sin was to borrow biographical facts from Kinnock that, although true about Kinnock, didn't apply to Biden. Unlike Kinnock, Biden wasn't the first person in his family history to attend college, as he asserted; nor were his ancestors coal miners, as he claimed when he used Kinnock's words.


Was it not obvious to Biden's listeners that his Grandda hadn't gone down t' mine eight days a week?
8.26.2008 12:02pm
ejo:
let's see, a professor mutters darkly about the possible mental illness of a candidate based on his temper, based on the history of mental illness of nam era vets as depicted in our movies. it's a talking point that has been out there amongst leftists. pointing out the bs of it is "frothing"? if a prof wants to get his talking points from Kos, shouldn't he be called out as the frother, if there is such a thing?

one difference betwee the service academies and every other elite educational institution-you actually have to serve your country when you graduate from them. you get the privilege of potentially being killed for your troubles. I'll describe that as a bit of a difference, given the benefits that McCain endured as a result of his choice of university. although, of course, I am sure one of the posters here will note that his captors were actually giving him advanced chiropractic care when they strung him up by the arms.
8.26.2008 12:11pm
RPT (mail):
According to John Yoo, John Ashcroft, Doug Feith, Jim Haynes, and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, the treatment afforded Sen. McCain did not rise to the level of torture. Am I correct?
8.26.2008 12:16pm
Hoosier:
RPT: Am I correct?
No.
8.26.2008 12:26pm
SATA_Interface:
You said "all veterans" when we were talking about one in particular. Now, it seems clear that McCain won't suffer from the things we are speculating about. The definition of froth is being so consumed with blanket statements that the evidence supporting your own position is ignored (when you could just present it) in favor of a "gotcha". And either side can be guilty, with "freeper" being a label for hard-right-wingers and "leftist/socialist/Kos-reader" being a label for hard-left-wingers. I prefer froth as it's wing-neutral...I'm not trying to be a leftist hack here... Here's a second-sourced link that thinks McCain will be fine in the mental department, temper or not. And this "bs" is not based on a movie depiction. Interestingly, some movies (even fictional ones) are based on a fact somewhere. WWII &Koreaand another longer linkMilitary Psychology of War, PDF warning
8.26.2008 12:32pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

I'd like to throw something in on the difference between Kennedy and Bush with regards to drunk driving. The main difference, in my mind, is what Kennedy did to escape the consequences of his drunk driving. They were both equally at fault for drunk driving, and yes, Bush was lucky that he did not kill anyone, as all drunk drivers are. However, he did not kill anyone. I personally support much harsher penalties for drunk driving, but since we are generally lax as a society in this regard, drunk driving is unfortunately common. However, killing a young girl and then immediately seeking legal advice is not very common (or so I hope, maybe I'm being naive).


Another big difference between Bush and Kennedy is that Bush faced up to his drinking problem and quit.
8.26.2008 12:34pm
gab:
Adler writes:

Go ahead and bring up the "Keating Five." It should certainly be looked into. As it happens, though, there's really not much there. The only reason McCain was included in the group under investigation was to make the scandal "bipartisan," and McCain was cleared of any improprieties, and only criticized for a poor exercise of judgment. There are plenty of reasons to criticize McCain, but this is not one of them.


This is the current spin on the McCain involvement with Charles Keating. This conveniently leaves out the fact that McCain travelled extensively on Keating's private jet -and didn't compensate Keating for the flights until much later. Leaves out the fact that his wife and Keating were investors together in a real estate venture. Leaves out the fact that McCain intervened with regulators on behalf of Keating. The latter might have been merely working on behalf of a constituent, but clearly has a whiff of conflict of interest given the above personal relationship.
8.26.2008 12:37pm
LM (mail):
Tony Tutins:

Was it not obvious to Biden's listeners that his Grandda hadn't gone down t' mine eight days a week?

D'ya think? IIRC, what was also obvious was that Biden was aware there were reporters present when he omitted the attribution who had heard him give the speech previously with the attribution, strongly suggesting against any intention to plagiarize.
8.26.2008 12:38pm
Anderson (mail):
The amusing thing is that Biden didn't appear to be listening to the words coming out of his own mouth.

That is why I avoid listening to politicians' speeches - if they aren't listening, why should I?
8.26.2008 12:44pm
ejo:
sorry, I'll continue to think that posters who reference mental illness in regard to McCain in the absence of anything other than having a temper aren't acting in good faith and are getting their talking points from far left websites. you can dislike him for any character issue which suits your fancy (adultery, being a jerk, being a rino) but, when you raise mental illness with a disclaimer of "I'm just saying it could be", you are full of it. tenure doesn't make one immune from being full of it.
8.26.2008 12:44pm
David M. Nieporent (www):

Plagiarism in a political stump speech is about as serious an offense as plagiarism in a cheerleading routine or a blues song. Aren't all these types of performances basically the same?

Had he published academic articles or something similar it would be important.
...and...
This is not an issue. Plagiarism may be a high crime in academia, but it's fairly common and acceptable in the working world.
These comments reflect a bit of confusion. Yes, Biden is famous for his plagiarism of Neil Kinnock, but that wouldn't be a great moral failing. It was a huge gaffe, because the part he borrowed was the section on his personal life story; Biden wasn't the son of coal miners, after all. But it's no big deal morally; very few politicians are using their own words, rather than those of a speechwriter, anyway.

But both of these comments ignore the fact that Biden was guilty of academic plagiarism. (Even if one doesn't place as high a weight on that as academics do, the point is that Biden was in that world when he did it, and violated the sacrosanct rule. Which raises the question of how he'd treat other ethical rules in other contexts.)


Oh, and I have it on good authority that plagiarism in a cheerleading routine is a pretty serious offense.
8.26.2008 12:49pm
Anderson (mail):
I'll continue to think that posters who reference mental illness in regard to McCain in the absence of anything other than having a temper

I have no reason to think he wasn't a jerk *before* getting shot down, so I renounce any insinuation of McCain's having a mental illness.
8.26.2008 12:50pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
D'ya think? IIRC, what was also obvious was that Biden was aware there were reporters present when he omitted the attribution who had heard him give the speech previously with the attribution, strongly suggesting against any intention to plagiarize.
Did any of you RTFA? Contrary to the Biden claim that he had always attributed his speech to Kinnock and only forgotten to do so once, he "borrowed" multiple times (from multiple people).
8.26.2008 12:55pm
Hoosier:
Biden would look ace in a mullet.
8.26.2008 1:01pm
SATA_Interface:
Ejo, I agree with you on that point. It's the same non-fact-based reasoning that's given us the "secret Muslim" smear on Obama even when evidence to the contrary is presented in a clear fashion.

I think, to avoid any more Rezko - Keating influence nonsense, we should force liquidation of all Congressional assets, placed into a trust with a minimum guarantee of at least 15% annual return, and provide housing for our nation's leaders. Who's with me?
8.26.2008 1:15pm
Simon P:
David: Fine, then maybe Biden shouldn't be a tenured professor. What does his academic plagiarism have to do with his responsibilities as Vice President? The people who are trying to make hay from Biden's plagiarism are simply not thinking about the issue clearly. So let's try to clarify the issue.

The progeny of an idea has particular importance within the academic community. First, scholars rely heavily on their reputations and identities as scholars in academia. Plagiarism threatens these reputations and identities by propagating ideas without attaching them to their progenitors and, instead, by attaching them to intervening fraudsters. Second, academia is uniquely an environment within which the production of new ideas and perspectives is crucial. Plagiarizing another person's work fails to contribute anything of substance to the academic "marketplace of ideas." So, plagiarism is counterproductive in the academic context and is appropriately disfavored there.

Thus, it should be clear that the rationale for the anti-plagiarism norm in the academic context does not carry over into other contexts, say, the political. For this reason, Biden's 1988 plagiarism is not relevant. As for his earlier, academic plagiarism, what reason do we have to care about it beyond the academic context? If plagiarism is no great sin beyond the academic context, why should it matter whether plagiarism has occurred within the academic context, beyond the academic context?
8.26.2008 1:15pm
Adam J:
Roger- "Certainly not. That is like saying that a criminal defendant must be guilty if he does not testify at his trial." Really, its nothing like that at all. Trials are completely different animals then ordinary real life. The typical reasons innocent defendents plead the fifth is to avoid being impeached with evidence that they're not particularly good at telling the truth, or because the defendent simply isn't very good at presenting himself. These don't exactly apply here.

The only halfway plausible reason I can think of for Bush to avoid the question (other than because he in fact used them &didn't want to lie) is because he thought it was a personal question that shouldn't be answered. And if that's true, that belief is quite at odds with the social conservative image he portrays.
8.26.2008 1:24pm
Anderson (mail):
that they're not particularly good at telling the truth * * * These don't exactly apply here.

Uh, this *is* President Bush we're talking about here?
8.26.2008 1:28pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
"Plagiarism in a political stump speech is about as serious an offense as plagiarism in a cheerleading routine or a blues song."
I am no fan of either Obama nor Biden, but I agree here. Besides, this is really old news.
But isn't there a judgment issue here? I mean, Neil Kinnock? Were Micheal Foot's archives under lock and key at UIC at the time or something?
Maybe back then, but we can all hope that he learned from his mistake. In the scheme of things, this is really minor.
8.26.2008 1:31pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):

But both of these comments ignore the fact that Biden was guilty of academic plagiarism. (Even if one doesn't place as high a weight on that as academics do, the point is that Biden was in that world when he did it, and violated the sacrosanct rule. Which raises the question of how he'd treat other ethical rules in other contexts.)


Ditto. It is the kind of action that everyone in law school knows is wrong and that is usually punished harshly. The one case of plagiarism of which I was aware during law school resulted in dismissal from the school.


Second, academia is uniquely an environment within which the production of new ideas and perspectives is crucial. Plagiarizing another person's work fails to contribute anything of substance to the academic "marketplace of ideas." So, plagiarism is counterproductive in the academic context and is appropriately disfavored there.

Thus, it should be clear that the rationale for the anti-plagiarism norm in the academic context does not carry over into other contexts, say, the political.



Yes, you are right. Plagiarism is only about punishing those who "fail to contribute anything of substance to the academic 'marketplace of ideas.'" It has nothing to do with dishonesty and theft . . .

But you are right. As we all know, honesty has no place in politics. :)
8.26.2008 1:37pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
This is the current spin on the McCain involvement with Charles Keating. This conveniently leaves out the fact that McCain travelled extensively on Keating's private jet -and didn't compensate Keating for the flights until much later. Leaves out the fact that his wife and Keating were investors together in a real estate venture. Leaves out the fact that McCain intervened with regulators on behalf of Keating. The latter might have been merely working on behalf of a constituent, but clearly has a whiff of conflict of interest given the above personal relationship.
Which is why the Senate faulted him. But you seem to be glossing over the fact that Keating was a friend of McCain's wife's father. They weren't friends because of McCain's Senate seat, but rather because they ran in the same Phoenix circles.

Yes, it showed lack of judgment to take those flights with a friend of a family who happened, as many of the other friends of the family did, contribute to his campaign, without reimbursing for the travel. But you can also probably attribute McCain-Feingold to this apparent inadvertent lapse in judgment, with McCain trying to make amends for it.
8.26.2008 1:38pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
The only halfway plausible reason I can think of for Bush to avoid the question (other than because he in fact used them &didn't want to lie) is because he thought it was a personal question that shouldn't be answered.
It was a personal question. And he did not answer it. Satisfied? It is not hard to understand. A lot of people refuse to answer personal questions in public.
8.26.2008 1:42pm
Simon P:
Daniel: To characterize "plagiarism" as "dishonesty" or "theft" is simply to beg the question -- why is it "dishonest" or "theft" to plagiarize? In what contexts does that ascription even make sense?
8.26.2008 1:50pm
MarkField (mail):

According to John Yoo, John Ashcroft, Doug Feith, Jim Haynes, and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, the treatment afforded Sen. McCain did not rise to the level of torture. Am I correct?


Not quite. It's more accurate to say that some of the horrible things done to McCain did not constitute torture according to these definitions. Some of the other horrible things did, though. This, of course, is a commentary on the likes of John Yoo, but not on McCain.
8.26.2008 1:51pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Thus, it should be clear that the rationale for the anti-plagiarism norm in the academic context does not carry over into other contexts, say, the political. For this reason, Biden's 1988 plagiarism is not relevant. As for his earlier, academic plagiarism, what reason do we have to care about it beyond the academic context? If plagiarism is no great sin beyond the academic context, why should it matter whether plagiarism has occurred within the academic context, beyond the academic context?
You can raise the "Why should we care?" about any misbehavior. Why should we care if he is guilty of tax evasion? Or, hell, murder? Do either of those affect the job he's likely to do as vice president?

We care because it speaks to his ethical sense. In the case of Biden, if you violate a rule that nobody considers important, then we wouldn't judge you harshly. Jaywalking says little about one's ethics. But if you break a rule that everyone considers important -- which was the context of Biden's plagiarism -- then that raises the question of what other important ethical rules you'll ignore when it suits you.
8.26.2008 2:03pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Daniel: To characterize "plagiarism" as "dishonesty" or "theft" is simply to beg the question -- why is it "dishonest" or "theft" to plagiarize? In what contexts does that ascription even make sense?
It's dishonest to plagiarize in academia because submitting a paper carries an implicit (or often explicit) warranty that it represents one's own work, and that warranty is false if one has plagiarized. Lying = dishonesty.

Just as riding a subway is not dishonesty, but doing so during a marathon is.
8.26.2008 2:07pm
David Warner:
"But isn't there a judgment issue here? I mean, Neil Kinnock? Were Micheal Foot's archives under lock and key at UIC at the time or something?

Maybe back then, but we can all hope that he learned from his mistake. In the scheme of things, this is really minor."

Card check? Nationalized Health Care? Punitive tax rates?

Hope is not a plan.

I'm very open to greater fiscal responsibility. A return to Kinnockism not so much.
8.26.2008 2:16pm
loki13 (mail):
I actually agree (partially) with DMN's viewpoint. I think that the plagiarism in law school was important. I think the speech plagiarism is less important. I also think that our world of gotcha politics and incredible scrutiny of all candidates is absurd; McCain violated countless regulations and rules at the Annapolis, and while I find that interesting, I don't think that automatically rules him out to be President (I have other reservations about him). The question becomes whether, holstically, Biden would be a good VP or not. I think he would be. I do find his plagiarism troubling, but it looks like he has kept it under wraps and/or learned (or kept it from the Obama campaign screening committee).
8.26.2008 2:18pm
Simon P:
David: Your justification is just running around in circles. Why is plagiarism bad? Because it's dishonest. Why is it dishonest? Because there's an implied warranty in academic work that the work is your own. But where does that warranty come from? What justifies its imposition?

I'm not asking you to describe to me the practice of academic honesty. I understand that well enough. What I'm asking is what basis we have to believe that "academic dishonesty" is the sort of moral failing we need to be concerned with outside the realm of academic credentials. To simply say that he broke the rules in the academic context is not enough.
8.26.2008 2:20pm
trad and anon:
I don't see a problem with plagiarism in the politician speech context. Politicians are not there for originality: that's what subject-matter experts (thinktankers, academics, agency appointees and civil servants, special interests, etc.) provide. Politicians are there to exercise their judgment. They typically don't do a good job of this, but it is their job.

The point of a politician's speech is not to be original. They're not even writing the speeches anyway. It is that the politician has adopted those words and the ideas they as their own, and thus it tells us what the speaker believes, or claims to believe.

The norm is (properly) different in the context of academia.
8.26.2008 2:29pm
Michael B (mail):
Biden didn't merely plagiarize, he appropriated Kinnock's family history as his own (i.e. his family working in coal mines 12 hours a day, etc.). That reflects something more fundamental that a simple plagiarization.
8.26.2008 2:30pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Eric Muller: Any concerns about Obama's extensive drug use?

Or is it just people you don't like that you "worry" about?
8.26.2008 2:33pm
Shertaugh:
Smokey said:


On the other hand, we have a true war hero, who demonstrated real character when it counted.


The Navy passed McCain over for promotion after he left POW status. What did the Navy know that McCain's now withholding from the rest of us? Why would a "war hero" and POW not deserve a promotion?

And what proof do we have that McCain was not brainwashed while a POW and, if elected, not be a front for the Commies in China? Or NoKo? Or even Ho Chi Minh's followers?

These are the kind of sensible, piercing questions we'd have heard in '04 if Kerry had been a POW. No? Maybe from some patriots in Texas.

So how 'bout we kick 'em around now.
8.26.2008 2:36pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
There doesn't seem to be any real correlation between a politicians personal honesty and his behavior as a politician. Sad, perhaps, but true. If only people would recognize this, they wouldn't be distracted by stuff like this.
8.26.2008 2:49pm
SG:

I think, to avoid any more Rezko - Keating influence nonsense, we should force liquidation of all Congressional assets, placed into a trust with a minimum guarantee of at least 15% annual return, and provide housing for our nation's leaders. Who's with me?


I don't know if you intended this as a modest proposal, but I actually like the idea. Not a guaranteed 15%, but I could get behind the notion that all assets go into a blind trust that has a return equivalent whatever the increase in GDP is over their term. Seems like a decent way to align the interests of the legislators with the nation.
8.26.2008 2:50pm
trad and anon:
There doesn't seem to be any real correlation between a politicians personal honesty and his behavior as a politician
This is true, but only trivially. If a politician's lips are moving, they're lying.
8.26.2008 3:04pm
Anderson (mail):
Not a guaranteed 15%, but I could get behind the notion that all assets go into a blind trust that has a return equivalent whatever the increase in GDP is over their term.

They should also be confined to a white plastic compound, insulated from lobbying and media influences, where they would wear matching white tunics and be referred to as, e.g., "California 1" and "California 2."
8.26.2008 3:49pm
SATA_Interface:
"I am not a number, I am a free man!!" "Who is Number One?"

Better than a plastic compound, how about an island with midgets and a white floaty ball of doom? This is getting better and better.
8.26.2008 3:55pm
Happyshooter:
The Navy passed McCain over for promotion after he left POW status. What did the Navy know that McCain's now withholding from the rest of us? Why would a "war hero" and POW not deserve a promotion?

Your comment is verging on overly nasty and tasteless.

1. I don't think the military started the idea of tying a POWs promotions to their cohort of fellow enlisted or officers until after he was released.

2. The man was promoted to full bird captain (O-6) and command of a squadron. What else do you guys want?
8.26.2008 3:58pm
MartyA:
Shouldn't we answer thae opening question about Biden's mendacity and theft of the work of others with his own actions? Look at Biden's silliness on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominee of a Republican president would have to listen to Biden about everything he did or ever wrote as an undergraduate. Any nominee to the right of Ginzberg would be summarily dismissed by the committee for and act of bidening that Biden comitted.
Biden wants a job higher than judge and is in place to move to the highest job. Shouldn't we do unto Biden what Biden would do to a normal person?
8.26.2008 4:00pm
Anderson (mail):
MartyA, assuming you have any serious intent, a senator is subject to re-election every six years (and a veep after four), so that the voters have opportunities to unseat them.

Federal judges, by contrast, serve for life. Once they're appointed, only impeachment (or death) removes 'em.

Hence, higher scrutiny is proper for judges than for members of the other branches.
8.26.2008 4:07pm
NickM (mail) (www):
The last time I checked, the title of this post and the post itself reference puffery. Few of the comments, however, do. Remember that Biden also made grossly (and verifiably) false claims about his academic record.

Stupid self-aggrandizing lies reflect very poorly on a job applicant.

Nick
8.26.2008 4:25pm
Waldensian (mail):
I guess we'll never now if Bush would have equaled Ted's (execrable) behavior in the wake of Ted's drunk-driving accident. Simply because W was lucky enough not to kill anybody. At the age of 30.
8.26.2008 4:37pm
Anderson (mail):
Simply because W was lucky enough not to kill anybody. At the age of 30.

Dubya didn't kill anybody ...

(wait for it)

... until he became President! (ba-da-BING!)

--Thanks! you've been great! [runs away]
8.26.2008 5:00pm
Malvolio:
I guess we'll never now if Bush would have equaled Ted's (execrable) behavior in the wake of Ted's drunk-driving accident. Simply because W was lucky enough not to kill anybody. At the age of 30.
When the behavior is "trying to get a woman not your wife into bed and then, when you drunkenly sink your car into an inlet, leaving the woman to drown while you scurry around trying to cover it up", the word "excrable" seems pretty weak. Mmmm, "felonious" comes to mind. "Execrable" should probably be reserved for such as activities as claiming, without proof, that innocent people would commit felonies if they needed to to cover up lesser crimes, if only they committed those crimes. C.f., Waldensian and anyone who defends Bill Clinton.

As for whether McCain's treatment somehow compares to waterboarding, I'll just point out that Christopher Hitchens volunteered to be waterboarded (he did not enjoy it); you think we could get him to volunteer to be beaten so badly he'd never again be able to raise his arms to the level of his shoulders?
8.26.2008 5:12pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Hoosier and Happyshooter:

Apologies. I somehow took a post by Happyshooter referencing HIS (or maybe HER) experiences at Michigan Law and read it as coming from Hoosier. Apparently, the lesson is that I should read more than just the first and last letters in posting names. I blame some combination of it being my first day back teaching, insufficient coffee, and/or the media and voter ignorance.

We now return you to random Obama, McCain, and Biden bashing.
8.26.2008 5:17pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Kennedy was 37, not 30, when he killed Mary Jo K. A United States Senator. We don't know if he was drunk because he left the scene overnight.

When the Bush DUI happened in the pre-Madd era, DUIs were considered just another traffic offense. Looking back from our vantage point, society is appalled but it was not so back then.

Leaving your passenger in a car in a river was, I don't think, ever considered just a routine traffic offense.
8.26.2008 5:47pm
Hoosier:
JosephSlater

You should also blame the Zionists. Everyone else does.
8.26.2008 6:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
David: Your justification is just running around in circles. Why is plagiarism bad? Because it's dishonest. Why is it dishonest? Because there's an implied warranty in academic work that the work is your own. But where does that warranty come from? What justifies its imposition?
First, your question is irrelevant; regardless of where the warranty comes from, it does exist; therefore, failing to live up to it is dishonest. Second, you seem to already know the answer as to where it comes from, since you say, "I'm not asking you to describe to me the practice of academic honesty. I understand that well enough."

What I'm asking is what basis we have to believe that "academic dishonesty" is the sort of moral failing we need to be concerned with outside the realm of academic credentials. To simply say that he broke the rules in the academic context is not enough.
Asked and answered. An observer is entitled to conclude from the fact that one has broken a serious ethical rule that one is the sort of person who breaks serious ethical rules. And an observer is certainly entitled to conclude that if one is that sort of person, one isn't going to limit one's lack of ethical behavior to one "context." (An observer is entitled to conclude the opposite, as well; some people may compartmentalize ethics and only lie in one context but not another. That would be up to the voter.)
8.26.2008 6:17pm
mockmook:
How about the media actually completely reports the plagarism/lies and let the public decide their relevance?
8.26.2008 6:31pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Hoosier: But I consider myself a Zionist of sorts, so if I blamed the Zionists for my mistake I would be blaming myself for my mistake, and lord knows I don't want that sort of responsibility.
8.26.2008 6:38pm
Suzy (mail):
I think "deeply troubled soul" is laying it on pretty thick! However, it is disturbing because Obama is frequently talking up the demand for transparency and honesty in govt.
8.26.2008 6:40pm
Obvious (mail):
I have been desperately trying to figure out what qualified Joe Biden to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Obama said his first consideration in picking a VP choice was the person's ability to take over as President.

And then I read here that he is notorious for lying about many things, great and small, almost habitually.

Having read detailed histories about FDR, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and other modern Presidents, I can now rest comfortable that Biden has proven he is fit for the job.
8.26.2008 6:53pm
Anderson (mail):
Leaving your passenger in a car in a river was, I don't think, ever considered just a routine traffic offense.

Question for those old enough to remember Chappaquiddick (which I am not):

Was there any tendency to excuse the offense by blaming the victim? Along the lines of "she shouldn't have been slutting around w/ a married man in the first place"?

I'm NOT justifying such an attitude -- I just don't think it would've been implausible at the time, &I'm curious if that was actually a reaction out there.
8.26.2008 7:27pm
Smokey:
Hey, Biden's plagiarism wasn't so bad. When it was discovered, he just coincidentally decided to drop his cadidacy for president. Just a coincidence, because, you know, his plagiarism wasn't so bad.


And get this excuse for Kerry, the war HE-RO:
And yet Bush easily won...
Jon Cary lost for one overriding reason: Right in the middle of the campaign, down the home stretch, the Swiftboat vets reported what they knew.

Did Kerry the HE-RO show bravery, and fight back?

No.

Kerry disappeared for almost an entire month, hiding out. And that, kids, is why John Kerry lost the election. The HE-RO ceded the battlefield to GWB.
8.26.2008 7:42pm
Smokey:
Great post there, Anderson! What a standup guy.

Of course, MJK can't defend herself. She's dead. So your innuendoes have to go unanswered by the victim. Go ahead, call her a slut again. There's nothing she can say about it, right?
8.26.2008 7:48pm
LM (mail):
Do any Tom Tancredo types here think Biden's plagiarism is as character damaging as McCain's perfidy on immigration? If you have to attack something about Biden's speeches, how about that he just won't shut up? You might get a decent consensus for that motion.
8.26.2008 8:17pm
LM (mail):
Anderson,

I don't recall hearing anything of that sort. There must have been people saying it, because there always are, but it was probably mostly in private. Anyway, the press was a lot less coarse in those days.
8.26.2008 8:36pm
LM (mail):
Smokey,

A lot of what the swiftboat vets reported was scurrilous garbage that should offend you if you're going to be consistent about standing up for vets who served courageously. That said, you're absolutely right about Kerry's weak response to the swiftboaters costing him the election.
8.26.2008 8:37pm
Perseus (mail):
Had he published academic articles or something similar it would be important.

Not at Harvard.
8.26.2008 9:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gv:

Perhaps while it's looking into that, it can bring this up as well?


Surely you're not claiming that a scandal which cost taxpayers $125 billion is as relevant as some instances of plagiarism. Anyway, you cited a textual reference. I prefer a short video version of the story.
8.27.2008 5:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
eric:

When do we find out for sure whether John McCain suffers from PTSD or other mood, anxiety, or depressive disorders


I don't see any sign that he has mood problems, aside from the many people who have tried to warn us about his temper. A Republican senator said this:

The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine…He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me


A major Arizona paper said this:

If McCain is truly a serious contender for the presidency, it is time the rest of the nation learned about the John McCain we know in Arizona. There is also reason to seriously question whether he has the temperament, and the political approach and skills, we want in the next president of the United States.


There's lots more if you google 'mccain temper.' I like this list.

Nothing to worry about, right?
8.27.2008 5:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
happy:

What is important is that he didn't squander the name or ruin it as so many do in that situtation.


Yes, thank goodness that Dubya didn't do any damage to the 'Bush' brand. Jeb's future is as bright as ever. And we know Dubya did no damage to the GOP brand, either.
8.27.2008 5:35am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
aw:

we should give it exactly as much creedence as if we discovered it yesterday


I didn't realize we were discussing McCain's adultery. You mean that's been all over the evening news? Somehow I missed it.
8.27.2008 5:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey:

who took years of savage beatings when just a little bit of collaboration would have made life much easier


Factual accuracy is not exactly your greatest strength. I don't fault McCain for it, but the savage beatings that he did in fact endure did in fact induce him to provide "a little bit of collaboration." McCain did indeed write a false confession, under torture. And he admitted that he gave them more information than he should have, also under torture (from "Faith of My Fathers," p. 198):

I should not have given out information about my ship and squadron, and I regret very much having done so


He describes how he did this while being filmed.
8.27.2008 5:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

I never went to law school.


Stop bragging.
8.27.2008 5:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ejo:

I am sure one of the posters here will note that his captors were actually giving him advanced chiropractic care when they strung him up by the arms.


Not exactly. But you can be "sure one of the posters here will note that" the claim you're making is repeated frequently, even though there seems to be a distinct lack of evidence that his captors ever "strung him up by the arms." Let us know if you ever find any. More details on this subject here.
8.27.2008 5:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
rpt:

According to John Yoo, John Ashcroft, Doug Feith, Jim Haynes, and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, the treatment afforded Sen. McCain did not rise to the level of torture. Am I correct?


Exactly. And it's pretty clear that we have ourselves done the equivalent of what was done to him.
8.27.2008 5:36am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

RPT: Am I correct?
No.


hoosier, you are claiming that something was done to McCain that rose to the level of torture, under the Bush-Yoo definition. Really? What was it?

As I pointed out in another thread (here), you seem to have made a false claim about Timberg's book. I was disappointed to notice that you disappeared from that thread very soon after I raised this issue.

Aside from that, I'm not sure that the "strung over a hook high in the wall" procedure would even be considered torture, under the Bush-Yoo definition.
8.27.2008 5:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
SATA_Interface:

Here's a second-sourced link that thinks McCain will be fine in the mental department, temper or not.


The article you cited can't be taken seriously as an attempt to examine McCain's temper. It mentions the words "anger" and "temper" a grand total of this many times: zero.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "second-sourced," but one of the main sources quoted is a person (Alvarez) who happens to have an official position in McCain's campaign. And the article doesn't mention that. Those pesky liberal reporters!
8.27.2008 5:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
gab:

Leaves out the fact that his wife and Keating were investors together in a real estate venture.


Also leaves out the fact that Cindy's tax returns are a deep, dark secret, so we don't know how much stuff like that is still going on.
8.27.2008 5:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
schafly:

It was a personal question. And he did not answer it. Satisfied? It is not hard to understand. A lot of people refuse to answer personal questions in public.


Interesting attitude about drug use, since the GOP so strongly supports the war on drugs. So if a cop ever asks me questions about drugs, I can just say I'm following Bush's example, and I "refuse to answer personal questions" asked by total strangers?

I also love the irony. In the context of FISA discussions in various places, I notice certain people taking the following position: 'if you're not doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't mind the government snooping on you.' So we shouldn't mind when he snoops on us, but he doesn't like it when we snoop on him. Even though he works for us. Makes perfect sense.
8.27.2008 5:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark:

Not quite. It's more accurate to say that some of the horrible things done to McCain did not constitute torture according to these definitions. Some of the other horrible things did, though.


I think you're incorrect. I wonder what those "other horrible things" are that you're talking about.
8.27.2008 5:37am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

if you break a rule that everyone considers important … then that raises the question of what other important ethical rules you'll ignore when it suits you


Do you mean like the rule that you're not supposed to cheat on your wife? Or the rule that you're not supposed to subject your kids to a broken marriage because you've decided to run off with someone barely half your age?
8.27.2008 5:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bob:

Any concerns about Obama's extensive drug use?


Please document your claim that his drug use was "extensive." People who knew him say otherwise.
8.27.2008 5:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
happy:

The man was promoted to full bird captain (O-6) and command of a squadron. What else do you guys want?


Here's what: for McCain to sign his SF-180 so we can get answers to lots of mysterious questions. Like this one: yes, he ran a squadron. For 13 months. That's his only executive experience, ever. Why did this end? And why didn't it end with a promotion? And why is this job not even mentioned in his official campaign bio?
8.27.2008 5:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nick:

Stupid self-aggrandizing lies reflect very poorly on a job applicant.


Good point. I guess it's time for McCain to finally speak up and tell people to stop constantly describing him as a fighter pilot, since he wasn't one. He was a bomber pilot.
8.27.2008 5:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
malvolio:

Christopher Hitchens volunteered to be waterboarded


It's really silly to compare a coerced procedure to a voluntary procedure.

you think we could get him to volunteer to be beaten so badly he'd never again be able to raise his arms to the level of his shoulders?


As far as I can tell, McCain can't raise his arm over his head because his shoulder was broken. But it wasn't broken by his jailers. It was broken by the crowd that dragged him out of the lake. He describes this in his book.

McCain was tortured, and McCain served heroically. But in a thread about "puffery" it's worth noticing how often the simple facts of his experience are repeatedly exaggerated. Especially because they are sufficiently impressive with no exaggeration whatsoever. But what we learn from the exaggerations is that some people don't care much about "important ethical rules."

Speaking of exaggerating: McCain indeed seems to be able to raise both arms "to the level of his shoulders" (example, example, example).
8.27.2008 5:38am
Public_Defender (mail):
Academics and journalists shouldn't be so shocked when non-academics and non-journalists "fail" to cite sources they way they do. Biden should be held to academic standards when he writes law review articles, but not when giving speeches.

In litigation, lawyers copy each other's stuff all the time. As long as you bill honestly and take responsibility for what you sign your name to, you're ethically fine.

I think politicians should be held to a similar standard. Biden cited Kinnock a few times, and didn't others. That seems good enough for someone giving the same speech over and over again. Now, if the substance was wrong, that's all on Biden.
8.27.2008 9:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Any concerns about Obama's extensive drug use?

Please document your claim that his drug use was "extensive." People who knew him say otherwise.
Wow. That post takes a startling amount of dishonesty. The link that you yourself provide points out that Obama admits to far more extensive drug use than what "people who knew him" said. The entire theme of the article is that Obama's account differs from theirs. Citing it as though it represented evidence that Obama didn't use drugs extensively is like linking to a Rudy Giuliani speech and then saying, "Please document that he mentions 9/11."
8.27.2008 12:48pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
In litigation, lawyers copy each other's stuff all the time. As long as you bill honestly and take responsibility for what you sign your name to, you're ethically fine.
You'd think so, but remember this thread on Volokh?
8.27.2008 12:50pm
SG:
It's really silly to compare a coerced procedure to a voluntary procedure.

Not necessarily. Where's the flaw in this syllogism?

No reasonable person would volunteer to be tortured.
Reasonable people have volunteered to be waterboarded.
Therefore, waterboarding is not torture.

Given the oft-repeated debates about what is and isn't torture, the exact dividing line is clearly somewhat personal, but my definition of torture is any procedure that I wouldn't voluntarily undergo to save an aribtrary third person (don't ask me to construct the hypothotetical in greater detail). As I understand waterboarding, I would readily submit to it to save someone else. Therefore I don't believe waterboarding is torture.

Stress positions and sleep deprivation - those are a different story. It depends on the degree, but by my definition they clearly can become torture. I don't know enough about how they've been done to form a a judgement on whether they've been used tortuously.
8.27.2008 12:56pm
Hi Standards:
Calling the Kinnock incident plagiarism understates Biden's transgression, since he not only borrowed Kinnock's theme for his speech but also made up "facts" to fit that theme. Biden was NOT the 1st in his family to go to college and he didn't have coal miners in his family. That said, it was Biden's lying about his academic record that ended his 1988 presidential campaign, and I'm still amazed that his copying five pages from a law review article without attribution didn't get him expelled from Syracuse Law. How can he pass that off as merely being confused about the rules for citation?
8.27.2008 1:04pm
Happyshooter:
Here's what: for McCain to sign his SF-180 so we can get answers to lots of mysterious questions. Like this one: yes, he ran a squadron. For 13 months.

That's how long a command tour is.

There are few command jobs and lots of staff jobs. That's why an officer gets a time limited command like squadron CO, and has to be lucky and good to get that.
8.27.2008 2:47pm
Happyshooter:
Was there any tendency to excuse the offense by blaming the victim? Along the lines of "she shouldn't have been slutting around w/ a married man in the first place"?

I'm NOT justifying such an attitude -- I just don't think it would've been implausible at the time, &I'm curious if that was actually a reaction out there.


My parents were dems and hard core union people, my mother was even president of her local, and they were adults and loyal to the dems during the death of MJK.

Both of them think Teddy is a murdering snake, neither blamed the victim.
8.27.2008 2:53pm
Hoosier:
Speaking of exaggerating: McCain indeed seems to be able to raise both arms "to the level of his shoulders

So, gee, you right-wing nuts, what are you complaining about? I mean, if he had any more mobility, he could even comb his own hair.

No big deal.

As far as I can tell, McCain can't raise his arm over his head because his shoulder was broken. But it wasn't broken by his jailers. It was broken by the crowd that dragged him out of the lake. He describes this in his book.

As far a YOU can tell?!! That's totally worthless as a medical analysis. Also, you are being overly cute, juke. You know the issue is raising his arms. What about the other one? (He has two of them. Just like Obama.) He describes one shoulder being crushed by a person in the crowd. The other?

I mean, you really are trying to minimize the extend and the physiological ramifications of his torture in NVN. And my advice to you is: Please convince the Obama campaign to do the same. Really, I think that would be a great thing for them to do.
8.27.2008 4:48pm
Hoosier:
Happyshooter
That's how long a command tour is.

There are few command jobs and lots of staff jobs. That's why an officer gets a time limited command like squadron CO, and has to be lucky and good to get that.


I think this is what a lot of commenters are missing here. At the time McCain was flying, military officers needed to get combat commands if they wanted to advance. Thus they were time-limited, and competition to, say, go to Vietnam for twelve months was fierce. Hal Moore discusses the effects of the this in "We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young." As soon as an officer really started to know what he was doing, he was rotated out, and some green officer was brought in to replace him.

"Ticket-punching," they called it.
8.27.2008 4:52pm
j. ullman (mail):
re Biden vs. Bush.
First of all, this isn't the issue. BUt here's the challenge for those of you Bush haters, esp. those like James Carville who blithely make comments about this being the most scandalous, corrupt, incompetent administration ever. Tell me why? I'll wait. Outline the scandals, the drug use, the bribery, the chicanery. The catastrophic decisions. Go ahead. Even on Iraq, there are articles documenting how well it is going. whether you care to believe them or not, it's a war, and war's ebb and flo, and we've lost fewer boys in this war than the entire world lost every SINGLE DAY DURING WW I. So I'll give you Iraq.. Where's the gross pollution that we had during Kennedy and Johnson? Where's the oppression of blacks and women? Where are the labor strikes? The shortages like we had during Nixon and Carter? Where are the watergate break-ins, the impeachments? Yes, incompetent? Corrupt? Then how come the dominant media and Democratic legislature couldn't muster an impeachment? Carville has the nuts to make these accusations and he worked for a guy who got impeached? Amazing. So go ahead - outline the problems we have had during the Bush admin. Any allegations of corruption a la Whitewater? Vince Foster? Go ahead - make my day - show me why George Bush is worse than Jimmy Carter, whose incompetence dealing with the middle east allowed muslim extremists to become mainstream and brought us the maelstrom we have today. Ball's in your court. ANd guess what - you can't document it. You are just all complicit in the Big Lie - call GWB incompetent enough (as you did from day One) and eventually everyone'll believe it. And you'll get what you deserve. More corruption, from an Illinois democrat, more patronage, more walking around money, no experience, a supporter of Islam who will stand by them when they try to introduce sharia Law in the US, as they have in England, more political correctness, double standards, and inequal protection under the law. God bless you; you are about to reap what you sew.
regards to all.
BTW, I lived in Newark, DE for 15 years and knew people who went to Salesianum high school with Biden. Talk about dumb and malevolent. He's a pathological liar, and a plagiarist. Good choice..
8.27.2008 5:09pm
Hoosier:
a supporter of Islam who will stand by them when they try to introduce sharia Law in the US, as they have in England,

Crap! I really need to start reading the papers more carefully! Totally frikkin' missed those stories.

(I have what I consider to be a pretty conclusive response to the "Obama is a closet Islamist" charge. But I don't what to treat the accusation as a valid one. What would you do, my friends?)
8.27.2008 5:31pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Me: In litigation, lawyers copy each other's stuff all the time. As long as you bill honestly and take responsibility for what you sign your name to, you're ethically fine.

David M. Nieporent: You'd think so, but remember this thread on Volokh?

Forget? No. But unless you practice in Iowa, you don't have to worry about the wacky and idiosyncratic ethical opinions of the Iowa Supreme Court.
8.27.2008 8:23pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier,

I commiserate. For my money there's nothing better for Obama's candidacy than j. ullman, but if you feel compelled to set him straight I'll understand.
8.27.2008 8:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

The link that you yourself provide points out that Obama admits to far more extensive drug use than what "people who knew him" said.


The article points out that Obama has admitted to some use of drugs. The article also points out that according to his friends, he used very little drugs. So I guess your statement is correct if you want to claim that some drug use is fairly described as "far more extensive" than very little drug use. I guess it's all relative. It's like saying that if I smoke one joint a year, my drug use is "far more extensive" than someone who never smokes at all. Trouble is, that doesn't make it fair to accuse me of "extensive drug use." And that was the accusation Bob made against Obama.

Of course I notice you have quoted this many words from the article, to support your claim about Obama's allegedly "extensive drug use:" zero. The article says this:

Old Friends Say Drugs Played Bit Part in Obama's Young Life…

… in his 1995 memoir, he mentioned smoking "reefer" in "the dorm room of some brother" and talked about "getting high." Before Occidental, he indulged in marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine as a high school student in Hawaii, according to the book. He made "some bad decisions" as a teenager involving drugs and drinking, Senator Obama, now a presidential candidate, told high school students in New Hampshire last November. …Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details.…

Mr. Obama's account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.

In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.

Vinai Thummalapally, a former California State University student who became friendly with Mr. Obama in college, remembered him as a model of moderation — jogging in the morning, playing pickup basketball at the gym, hitting the books and socializing. "If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag. We'd smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus," recounted Mr. Thummalapally, an Obama fund-raiser. "He was not even close to being a party animal." …

Mr. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said her brother focused more on his future at Occidental. … As for Mr. Obama's use of marijuana and, occasionally, cocaine, she said, "He wasn't a drug addict or dealer. He was a kid searching for answers and a place who had made some mistakes." After arriving in New York, Mr. Obama wrote in his memoir, he stopped getting high.

In the 442-page book, published when he was 33, Mr. Obama's references to drug use are limited to the equivalent of about a page and a half. … The son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, Mr. Obama wrote that he would get high to help numb the confusion he felt about himself. "Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man," he penned in the memoir. "Except the highs hadn't been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was." … "I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind." …

At Punahou, a preparatory school that had few black students, Keith Kakugawa and Mr. Obama were close friends. … Mr. Kakugawa, who spent seven years in and out of prison for drug offenses beginning in 1996, said he pressured Mr. Obama into drinking beer. But Mr. Obama did not smoke marijuana during the two years they spent time together even though it was readily available, Mr. Kakugawa said, adding that he never knew Mr. Obama to have done cocaine. "As far as pot, booze or coke being a prevalent part of his life, I doubt it," Mr. Kakugawa said. …

While he would sometimes attend parties held by black students and Latinos, Amiekoleh Usafi, a classmate who also spoke at the rally, recalled seeing him at parties put together by the political and artistic set. Ms. Usafi, whose name at Occidental was Kim Kimbrew, said the most she saw Mr. Obama indulging in were cigarettes and beer. "I would never say that he was a druggie, and there were plenty there," she said. "He was too cool for all that."


There is nothing in Obama's own words, or in the words of his friends, to support a claim about "Obama's extensive drug use." So hopefully you and bob will explain why you're making that specious claim.
8.27.2008 9:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
sg:

Where's the flaw in this syllogism?


The flaw is that there is a fundamental difference between a voluntary procedure and a coerced procedure. Next up, you will claim that sticking needles in my skin isn't torture, because you know that certain people volunteer to be tattooed. And then you will claim that cutting my skin with a knife isn't torture, because certain people get sexual pleasure from being cut. And then you will claim that penetrating my anus with a broomstick isn't torture, because certain people get sexual pleasure from that, too.

Being waterboarded by someone I hired, as a stunt, is fundamentally different from being waterboarded as a captive. In the former situation, I know the waterboarder is highly motivated to not kill me. Not so in the latter situation.

If someone dunks your head in a bucket of water, the amount of terror you experience is going to be a direct function of the distinction I just described. A distinction that you claim is meaningless.

my definition of torture is any procedure…


We're delighted to hear your definition, but what's infinitely more important is the legal definition. Look at any anti-torture statute and you will see that it concerns itself only with acts that are done to captives, rather than acts that are done to a volunteer. The law recognizes this distinction because it's a crucial distinction, even though you don't think so.
8.27.2008 9:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
happy:

That's why an officer gets a time limited command like squadron CO, and has to be lucky and good to get that.


According to McCain's biographer, he didn't get the job because he was "lucky and good:"

The assignment was controversial, some calling it favoritism, a sop to the famous son of a famous father and grandfather, since he had not first commanded a squadron, the usual career path.


From "John McCain, An American Odyssey," p. 123. The author is a Naval Academy graduate, Marine, and Vietnam vet.

I notice you haven't bothered trying to explain why McCain completely omits any mention of this job from his official campaign bio. This is odd, especially considering it's the only executive experience he ever had, in his entire career.
8.27.2008 9:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

No big deal.


McCain's torture was indeed a "big deal." Nice job with the straw man. And it was enough of a big deal that it doesn't need to be embellished. So why are you and so many others embellishing it? Here's something else that I think is a big deal: telling the truth. You disrespect the reality of his experience when you fictionalize it. McCain's torture was real, and likewise for the courage and honor he showed under torture. What's not honorable is the way his supporters embellish the record.

malvolio suggested that McCain can't "raise his arms to the level of his shoulders." But he can. Who decided it's OK to make things up?

He describes one shoulder being crushed by a person in the crowd. The other?


Good question. In his book, he only describes an injury to one shoulder. But on his web site, he claims that both shoulders were broken. Why the discrepancy? I discussed this in more detail here.

you really are trying to minimize the extend and the physiological ramifications of his torture


Wrong. What I'm doing is pointing out the difference between statements that are true and statements that are false. Here's an example of a statement that's false:

He was tortured by … being hanged by broken arms, tied behind him, and then strung over a hook high in the wall. … This is all described in Robert Timberg's book "The Nightingale's Song."


As far as I can tell, that anecdote appears nowhere in any of Timberg's books (that is, with regard to McCain himself having that experience). Likewise for McCain's books. Even though those books contain allegedly detailed accounts of McCain's experience. So where did you get this anecdote? And why did you disappear from the other thread when I challenged you to show proof? And why are you still ducking this question?

And speaking of ducking things, here's another point that's being ducked: what was done to McCain does not rise the level of meeting the Bush-Yoo torture standard. And we've done to our captives the equivalent of what was done to him.
8.27.2008 9:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
ullman:

He's a pathological liar


I guess your're talking about the guy who made statements like this:

- we found the weapons of mass destruction
- he wouldn't let them in
- a wiretap requires a court order
8.27.2008 9:09pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Oops, typo alert. When I wrote this:

what was done to McCain does not rise the level of meeting the Bush-Yoo torture standard


I obviously meant this:

what was done to McCain does not rise to the level of meeting the Bush-Yoo torture standard
8.27.2008 9:14pm
Hoosier:
Remember: McCain is a war hero.

For what it's worth: McCain = a war hero.

Whether you vote for him or not: McCain=War HE-RO

Yeah-baby

War Hero. McCain.
8.27.2008 11:23pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"Remember: McCain is a war hero."

True. Therefore why do you need to make things up? And why are you refusing to take responsibility for telling a phony story?
8.27.2008 11:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
There is nothing in Obama's own words, or in the words of his friends, to support a claim about "Obama's extensive drug use." So hopefully you and bob will explain why you're making that specious claim.
1) I didn't make the claim; Bob did. Then you cited an article which had as its thesis that Obama's version of events differed from that of Obama's friends/acquaintances, but you ignored that thesis in order to pretend that it refuted Bob's claim. I was merely pointing out that you were misrepresenting the article.

2) There is certainly a basis for Bob's claim in Obama's own words: In the 442-page book, published when he was 33, Mr. Obama's references to drug use are limited to the equivalent of about a page and a half. … The son of a white American mother and a black Kenyan father, Mr. Obama wrote that he would get high to help numb the confusion he felt about himself. "Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man," he penned in the memoir. "Except the highs hadn't been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was." … "I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind." … Those quotes sound like extensive drug use to me; a guy who merely occasionally uses drugs recreationally would not normally describe himself as being headed towards being a junkie.
8.28.2008 2:12am
Public_Defender (mail):
Perhaps we are overestimating the importance of honesty in a president. Comparing Clinton to Bush II, Andrew Sullivan wrote, "Shrewd liar or someone in complete denial? In a President, I think I prefer the former."
8.28.2008 5:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

I didn't make the claim


Let the backpedaling begin. I guess it must have been a different nieporent who said this:

Obama admits to far more extensive drug use than what "people who knew him" said


(Emphasis in the original.) Good luck convincing anyone that those words don't imply that Obama is guilty of "extensive drug use."

Then you cited an article which had as its thesis that Obama's version of events differed from that of Obama's friends/acquaintances


Indeed. The article says that Obama "indulged in marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine as a high school student." The article also says that he "never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details." The article also says that "in more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana."

In other words, even though Obama said he used cocaine "sometimes," thirty other people seemed to remember that he didn't use cocaine at all. Only someone like you could turn this into a claim of "extensive drug use." And only someone like you could say that someone who "never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details" has admitted "extensive drug use."

a guy who merely occasionally uses drugs recreationally would not normally describe himself as being headed towards being a junkie


Your willingness to embarrass yourself with sophistry is unbelievable. A "junkie" is someone who is guilty of "extensive drug use." You and bob didn't accuse Obama of being "headed towards" extensive drug use. You accused him of extensive drug use. And you claimed that he admitted extensive drug use. But he didn't admit extensive drug use. He admitted being "headed towards" extensive drug use. On what planet is being headed towards extensive drug use indistinguishable from extensive drug use?

Your other bit of sophistry here is the way you gloss over the fact that he didn't admit being aware of this at the time. It's something he realized after the fact. That's why he said "that's where I'd been headed." That sounds to me like the statement of someone who gained some self-awareness later.

And aside from all that, "a guy who merely occasionally uses drugs recreationally" might indeed "describe himself as being headed towards being a junkie" if he was unusually intelligent and sensitive, and realized he was part of a group (young black men) at high risk for that outcome, and was someone also at high risk because of the pressures of his unusual identity and background. Which is exactly what he explains in his book.

A further irony here is that the GOP concept of drugs (going all the way back to "Reefer Madness") is that one joint is enough to set a person on the slippery slope to junkie-dom. Many who promote the war on drugs do indeed claim that "a guy who merely occasionally uses drugs recreationally" is "headed towards being a junkie." Obama is merely showing the self-awareness that every anti-drug ad is supposed to instill. It's pretty funny to watch you twist this into the idea that he "admits … extensive drug use."
8.28.2008 8:59am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
pd:

Shrewd liar or someone in complete denial


Interesting point. But I think these are not mutually exclusive, and I think Dubya does both. Accusing him of only being in denial lets him off the hook too easily.
8.28.2008 8:59am
just watching666 (mail):
Damn Jukeboxgrad, most awesome take downs. Very enjoyable. Thanks.
8.28.2008 10:51am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
just, thanks for the kind words. Don't tell anyone, but nieporent is my sock puppet. If he didn't exist, I would have to invent him.
8.28.2008 11:32am
David M. Nieporent (www):
(Emphasis in the original.) Good luck convincing anyone that those words don't imply that Obama is guilty of "extensive drug use."
Ah, now we're back to your partisan hackery of sometimes reading words literally and sometimes not. When Obama calls the threat from a country tiny, you claim that it's crucial that he was saying it only on a comparative basis to the Soviet Union. When I explicitly use comparative language, you ignore it and pretend I am "implying" something else.

The whole point of the article was to contrast these people's stories to Obama's.

In other words, even though Obama said he used cocaine "sometimes," thirty other people seemed to remember that he didn't use cocaine at all.
If someone mentions Obama's drug use, why would any honest person cite what "thirty other people" "remember" rather than what Obama himself admitted to?

And you claimed that he admitted extensive drug use.
No, I didn't. I claimed that he admitted far more extensive drug use than his acquaintances remember. That was the whole point of the article. Did you read it?

But he didn't admit extensive drug use. He admitted being "headed towards" extensive drug use. On what planet is being headed towards extensive drug use indistinguishable from extensive drug use?
No, he doesn't admit being headed towards extensive drug use. He admits being headed towards being a junkie. On what planet is being headed towards being a junkie distinguishable from extensive drug use?

Your other bit of sophistry here is the way you gloss over the fact that he didn't admit being aware of this at the time. It's something he realized after the fact. That's why he said "that's where I'd been headed." That sounds to me like the statement of someone who gained some self-awareness later.
Which has what to do with the price of tea in China? Why does it matter when he realized it?

A further irony here is that the GOP concept of drugs (going all the way back to "Reefer Madness") is that one joint is enough to set a person on the slippery slope to junkie-dom. Many who promote the war on drugs do indeed claim that "a guy who merely occasionally uses drugs recreationally" is "headed towards being a junkie." Obama is merely showing the self-awareness that every anti-drug ad is supposed to instill. It's pretty funny to watch you twist this into the idea that he "admits … extensive drug use."
I don't know what Reefer Madness has to do with the "GOP concept of drugs," but I am not responsible for what concepts loony drug war zealots promote. Using recreational drugs occasionally does not make one a "junkie." There's nothing wrong with such use.

Although it is interesting to see the racism in your notion that having dark skin makes one more likely to become a junkie.
8.28.2008 3:41pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
nieporent:

When Obama calls the threat from a country tiny, you claim that it's crucial that he was saying it only on a comparative basis to the Soviet Union.


There are several fundamental differences between the way McCain quoted Obama and the way I quoted you. Here's one: your exact original language is instantly available to all the people who are reading my comments here. Obama's original language (video) is not instantly available to most of the people viewing McCain's dishonest ad (video).

When I explicitly use comparative language, you ignore it and pretend I am "implying" something else.


I ignore your comparative language because your comparison was absurd. Yes, using cocaine "sometimes" (what Obama said) is more than using cocaine not at all (what the 30 people interviewed seemed to say). But only a hack like you would try to claim that "sometimes" is "far more extensive" than "not at all." When A is only slightly greater than B it is not correct to say that A is "far more extensive" than B. But that's precisely what you did.

The whole point of the article was to contrast these people's stories to Obama's.


Exactly. And Obama's story was that he used drugs sometimes. The other "people's stories" said he used drugs hardly at all. 'Sometimes' is not "far more extensive" than 'hardly at all.'

If someone mentions Obama's drug use, why would any honest person cite what "thirty other people" "remember" rather than what Obama himself admitted to?


I cited both, by citing an article that included all that information. And when you take into account all that information, here's what a reasonable person concludes: that Obama does not have a history of "extensive drug use." Trouble is, you and bob claimed he does. And you seem to still be trying to defend that asinine claim.

And in my original very brief comment, I explicitly made reference to "people who knew him," because I wanted to emphasize the fact that I wasn't bringing evidence based on his claims alone.

I claimed that he admitted far more extensive drug use than his acquaintances remember. That was the whole point of the article.


The article didn't say "he admitted far more extensive drug use than his acquaintances remember." What "his acquaintances remember" was virtually no drug use whatsoever. And Obama admitted something "more" than that, but certainly not something "far more extensive" than that. 'Sometimes' is more than 'not at all,' but it's not "far more extensive" than 'not at all.' It's amazing that you're shameless enough to pretend that it is.

No, he doesn't admit being headed towards extensive drug use. He admits being headed towards being a junkie.


Tell us about the planet where 'junkie' means something different from 'someone who uses drugs extensively.'

On what planet is being headed towards being a junkie distinguishable from extensive drug use?


The planet we live on, where anti-drug crusaders have spread the message that a kid who smokes pot sometimes is "headed towards being a junkie." And for some people, that's actually true. And Obama eventually assessed that it had been true for him (that is, his occasional pot use had been putting him at risk of becoming a "junkie").

Why does it matter when he realized it?


It's important to understand that he only realized it later because this underlines the fact that while he was doing it, it seemed insignificant. Because it was something he only did "sometimes." If he had really been using drugs extensively, as both you and bob have falsely claimed, it's likely that he would have had at least some understanding, at the time, that he was headed for trouble. So when you gloss over the fact that he only gained self-awareness later, you help your phony narrative.

I don't know what Reefer Madness has to do with the "GOP concept of drugs"


There's a direct line between the idiocy memorialized in that movie and the idiocy embodied in the GOP-supported war on drugs.

I am not responsible for what concepts loony drug war zealots promote


I never said you are. What you are responsible for is pretending that we haven't all been subjected to anti-drug marketing that tells us that occasional pot use is the first step to oblivion. There was a point in Obama's life where he took that message seriously, and thought it might apply to him. And he might have been right, because that message is actually correct, for certain people.

Using recreational drugs occasionally does not make one a "junkie." There's nothing wrong with such use.


If you believe that "there's nothing wrong with … using recreational drugs occasionally" then you should explain why you spoke up in the first place. Because all signs seem to indicate that Obama was just "using recreational drugs occasionally."

Although it is interesting to see the racism in your notion that having dark skin makes one more likely to become a junkie.


Then I guess you also see racism in what Obama said. It was his idea, not mine, to draw a connection between his drug use and his race:

Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.


Anyway, if you have strong feelings about people who have a history of "extensive drug use," maybe you should ask McCain why he's married to a person with such a history.
8.28.2008 11:39pm