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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama picks Veep nominee whose main claim to fame is being caught repeatedly as a plagiarist

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) As I post this, the NYT is announcing on its website that Barack Obama has chosen fellow senator Joe Biden as his running mate. If true, then Obama has apparently made NYT pundit David Brooks a happy man. He's certainly made me happier as a committed Obama opponent!

I'm pretty sure that David Brooks is a nice man. He is an articulate man. He can write and speak in complete sentences. Occasionally, he delivers some interesting punditry. But his op-ed earlier in today's NYT — Hoping It's Biden — is simply a monument to cluelessness.

Brooks writes that Biden "has disdain for privilege and for limousine liberals — the mark of an honest, working-class Democrat." Brooks digs the hole deeper in listing "honesty" as among Biden's useful attributes as an Obama running-mate (emphasis in original):

Honesty. Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.

Today, Biden’s conversational style is tiresome to some, but it has one outstanding feature. He is direct. No matter who you are, he tells you exactly what he thinks, before he tells it to you a second, third and fourth time.

Presidents need someone who will be relentlessly direct. Obama, who attracts worshippers, not just staff members, needs that more than most.

This is awful logic — in fact, it's not logic at all. I have no clue how Biden's high-school speech disability, or his resulting odd smile, relate to "honesty." This is just Brooks' babbling: Nothing in these paragraphs has anything to do with honesty.

Perhaps if Brooks wants to know about Biden's intrinsic honesty, and he won't read BeldarBlog on that subject, then he should at least read some of his employer's archives.

Let's start with the fact that Biden has admitted to conduct which proves that he was a very dishonest young man: He was caught in, and then confessed to, an episode of repeatedly plagiarizing from a law review article in a class paper he submitted as a first-year law student:

The file distributed by the Senator included a law school faculty report, dated Dec. 1, 1965, that concluded that Mr. Biden had ''used five pages from a published law review article without quotation or attribution'' and that he ought to be failed in the legal methods course for which he had submitted the 15-page paper.

Got that? Biden stole someone else's legal scholarship, and passed it off as his own. He's lucky he wasn't expelled outright, but the F he received in that course as part of the penalty for his misconduct doesn't explain by itself how he managed to graduate only 76th out of 85 in his law school class.

(John McCain also graduated near the bottom of his class from Annapolis, and that also reflected a middling academic performance brought further down by conduct demerits — but McCain's misbehavior mostly reflected his unwillingness to submit to Naval Academy hazing, and none of it involved cheating or any other violations of the Academy's famous Honor Code.)

Biden's law school cheating might be discounted if he'd learned his lesson and lived an exemplary, plagiarism-free life thereafter. But of course, he didn't. His own first run for the presidency exploded in 1987 when he was caught repeatedly plagiarizing again, and simultaneously caught on C-SPAN telling obvious lies about his academic record:

Mr. Biden's troubles began with the revelation in The New York Times and The Des Moines Register that he had used, without attribution, long portions of a moving address by the British Labor Party leader, Neil Kinnock. Later, it emerged that he had also used passages from the speeches of Robert F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey.

Then, it was revealed that Mr. Biden had been disciplined as a first-year law student for using portions of a law review article in a paper without proper attribution. Mr. Biden tried to put the charges behind him by admitting to mistakes at a news conference, but he was hit again by a Newsweek magazine report on a videotape of an appearance in New Hampshire in which he misstated several facts about his academic career.

The "misstated facts" included a claim that he'd graduated from law school in the top half of his academic class.

Brooks does mention the "plagiarism scandal" later in his op-ed, among the "lesser crises" that have marked Biden's career. But Brooks doesn't seem to grasp that plagiarism is dishonesty and theft; he cites this as an example, absolutely inexplicably, of Biden's "loyalty":

[T]here are moments when a president has to go into the cabinet room and announce a decision that nearly everyone else on his team disagrees with. In those moments, he needs a vice president who will provide absolute support. That sort of loyalty comes easiest to people who have been down themselves, and who had to rely on others in their own moments of need.

Yes, indeed, Biden has shown that he can "rely on others" — a law review author, Neil Kinnock, Hubert Humphrey, and Robert F. Kennedy among them — during his own "moments of need," but how is that a good thing? And what on earth does that have to do with the kind of loyalty he'd show as a vice president?

Obama is choosing Biden for foreign policy and national security gravitas, and Biden does have many years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But military acumen? Consider this, also revealed back in 1987:

The file also included Mr. Biden's transcript from his days as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware. In his first three semesters, his grades were C's or D's, with three exceptions: two A's in physical education courses, a B in a course on ''Great English Writers'' and an F in R.O.T.C. The grades improved somewhat later but were never exceptional.

Yeah, that's the way to counter a war hero like McCain — pick someone who flunked his course in the Reserve Officer Training Corps!

So what else besides lying, cheating, and flunking classes is Joe Biden famous for? Well, I guess he could point to his most conspicuous Senate accomplishment — championing legislation favored by his home-state's large concentration of credit card companies to make it significantly harder for Americans to discharge their debts through bankruptcy. I expect we won't be hearing much about that legislative accomplishment, though, from the Obama-Biden '08 campaign.

For the grumpy old man to win, Obama needs to make mistakes that reveal his inexperience and poor judgment. In picking Biden, Obama's just made another — a huge one whose importance will become increasingly clear as the campaign progresses.


UPDATE (Sun Aug 24 @ 12:40am): AllahPundit has the whole C-SPAN clip. In addition to claiming he has a higher IQ than the questioner (unprovable either way without getting test scores for them both) and lying outright about his law school class rank, Biden insisted that he had three degrees from college (when in fact he had only one, albeit that with a double-major). He claimed to have been recognized as the "outstanding student" in his college political science department, when in fact he had only been nominated for an award (which he didn't win). And Biden claimed to have had a full academic scholarship to law school, when he actually had only a half-scholarship based on financial need.

Posted by Beldar at 12:45 AM in 2008 Election, Law (2008), Mainstream Media, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) invernessie made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 2:22:38 AM | Permalink

Ah...but Obama has done this to himself. He is notorious for cribbing from his fellow "dems", however extreme their rhetoric. So Biden's "crimes" would mean nothing to him.

There is so much to mine from Biden and Obama, my only hope is that the MSM and RNC watch dogs are up to the challenge.

From my POV, I can only say that it is totally incomprehensible that someone who refuses to reveal or deliberately blocks a look at their track record/audit trail has some serious $#!+ that he does not want joe voter to have an opportunity to review.

As someone who is trying to progress through the ranks, build experience and achieve greater contributory roles - how can someone, like Obama, go through life, hand picked by the elites (though by what criteria? This has always baffled me, what singled out Obama for these opportunities? Why no paper trail/audit record? It can only be by design.

Obama's under-estimation of the folkd will be his undoing.

(2) Christoph made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 9:52:05 AM | Permalink

Beldar, I agree with every word you said, and I disagree with it for the following reason.

I agree because you're most likely right and I had my fingers crossed that Obama would choose Biden. Now that Obama has, my concern is that conservatives will become too complacent and will attack Biden instead of Obama.

We've got Obama severely on the ropes right now, with more bad information of his own making percolating to the top of media awareness. Do we want to focus on Biden's old flubs while he does what he does well, which is attack, and Obama does what he does well, which is speak eloquently aided by a teleprompter, adoring TV coverage, and large crowds?

(3) stan made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 10:51:39 AM | Permalink

Biden will offer some opportunities to show his weaknesses, but in the end, he will be a mere blip on the screen for this election.

This election will come down to a referendum on Barack.

Note -- as Jacob Weisberg's article today shows the anger, hatred and hysteria underlying the left will be on full display by November. Krauthammer's axiom will be clear to everyone (i.e. Republicans think Democrats are wrong, Democrats think Republicans are evil)

(4) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 2:12:47 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: I don't know that Biden's plagiarism is going to hurt him that much. I don't think it hurt him in 1988 so much as is believed. What hurt him then was his retort to a questioner that he, Biden, had a higher IQ than the questioner did. That clip is due for revival. Also due for revival is his conduct during the 1987 Bork hearings, which will be red meat for the judicial conservative crowd.

But the best source of attack will be The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee v. The Chairman of One of the Foreign Relations Subcommittees. Biden needs to be pressed about Obama's laziness. Something like this:

"Mr. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, why didn't you give The One hell for never convening any meetings of his European Affairs Subcommittee, thus making the full committee do all the work especially in confirming State Department vacancies?"

Or this:

"Mr. Chairman, The One intones that we should vote for him because his judgment is superior. The One cites his opposition to the commencement of hostilities in Iraq. You supported said hostilities, thus proving you have inferior judgment. How big a burden is your lack of foreign policy judgment going to be for the ticket?"

And so on. The difficulty with these questions, which could touch off a swell imbroglio if they were asked, is the age-old one of getting the liars in the press to do what they should naturally.

Stan noticed the dreadful Weisberg article in the 22 August SLATE. As of this morning, it isn't on the index pages, which I find a bit peculiar. The editor writes his heartfelt notions of how anyone who opposes The One must be a racist---and the next day, it's off the index page and can only be found by searching. But if you don't know that he wrote it, you can't search for it. Maybe Weisberg is having second thoughts.

Anyway, here's the meat of the article:

"You may or may not agree with Obama's policy prescriptions, but they are, by and large, serious attempts to deal with the biggest issues we face: a failing health care system, oil dependency, income stagnation, and climate change. To the rest of the world, a rejection of the promise he represents wouldn't just be an odd choice by the United States. It would be taken for what it would be: sign and symptom of a nation's historical decline."

"The biggest issues we face":

1. a failing health care system,
2. oil dependency,
3. income stagnation,
4.climate change

Only #2 has anything to do with the parlous state of affairs against Islamofascism, to say nothing of Russia resurgent.

Weisberg is pounding the isolationist drum, and in these mediocre at best economic times, many people will be content to let the isolation drum drown out the foreign war drums.

But Weisberg's notion that the world will judge America harshly for turning down the one is good for a guffaw. Name me one G-8 nation that has already had a black head of govt/state. Zero. But Germany, Canada, Britain have had female heads of government, anf France has run one for head of state. The harsh judgment that will be passed will be for stiff arming Hillary. Let Weisberg chew on that conclusion, while the rest of us laugh.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(5) Donna B. made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 6:30:55 PM | Permalink

Sarah Palin. Good for McCain, good for the GOP, good for the country.

(6) Nomenklatura made the following comment | Aug 23, 2008 7:05:17 PM | Permalink

Engram reveals a key to Obama's choice here.

This year's Democratic ticket now comprises 2 of only 3 US senators further to the left than Bernie Sanders!

(7) hunter made the following comment | Aug 24, 2008 8:11:17 AM | Permalink

If Weisberg thinks Obama is making serious proposals for leading America, I have a bridge to sell him.
And Biden's plagiarism and general doofishness have dost him completely. He is a clown.
Obama in effect hired a blow hard to keep his empty suit properly inflated.

(8) steve miller made the following comment | Aug 24, 2008 9:13:07 AM | Permalink

I realize that Obama is "HopeChange!"

But what exactly has he done?

143 days in the Senate. No committee meetings. Few (if any) bills.

How does this make him a "leader"?

(9) hunter made the following comment | Aug 24, 2008 11:17:27 AM | Permalink

The idea that Obama is a leader could only happen in a world where celebrity is confused with accomplishment.
Obama is to Presidential leadership what Harold Hill is to music teaching.

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