One measure of a savvy politician is how he handles his mistakes. Expressing nostalgia for the days when one could shoot or stab a critic is not a great PR move.
The freshman senator, beloved by the
"Nothing I said was not given attribution to where it came from," Paul told Fusion's Jorge Ramos. "I talked about a movie. … The rest of it's making a mountain out of a molehill from people I think basically who are political enemies and have an ax to grind.
"It's a disagreement on how you footnote things."
A spokesman for one of the think tanks, the
This week, the fallout began.
On Wednesday night, the Louisville Courier-Journal wondered in a sternly worded editorial, "Rand Paul-agiarism," whether Paul was "a politician or a parrot."
A day earlier, the Washington Times announced that it had "mutually agreed" with Paul to drop his weekly column after the paper discovered he lifted a passage from the Week for his Sept. 20 piece critiquing mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes. In its news story announcing the severed relationship, the Washington Times explained:
“Mr. Paul took personal responsibility for the oversights, which he and aides said were caused by staff providing him background materials that were not properly footnoted. But the Kentucky Republican, a possible 2016
The newspaper also noted that Paul told CNN, "They're now going back and reading every book from cover to cover and looking for places where we footnoted correctly and don't have quotation marks in the right places or we didn't indent correctly."
Yup, that's exactly what "they" do when a prominent national figure is accused of plagiarism. They whip out the old fine-tooth comb.
Sadly, it's not even news that a politician with presidential aspirations does not even pretend to be the author of the words that come out of his mouth or run below his name. But whether the lifting was intentional does not absolve the senator of responsibility.
Lashing out makes him look uninformed, paranoid and, frankly, not very mature.
“I think I am being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters,” he told
Just what we need: honor killings.
Does Paul really want to be known as a Southern politician who pines for the days when duels were used to settle scores? He should ask
(When Rand said he couldn't hold office in Kentucky if he dueled, by the way, he wasn't joking. The legal humor blog, Lowering the Bar, noted in 2009 that the Kentucky Constitution requires state officeholders to swear they have never fought a duel or challenged anyone to a duel, or acted as a second in one.)
If Paul were as smart as he thinks he is, he would apologize, vow to be vigilant against future intellectual theft and take his lumps.
That may not be as satisfying as challenging Rachel Maddow to a duel.
But it is, in fact, the honorable thing to do.