Plagiarism Ended Joe Biden’s First White House Bid: President Joe Biden is apparently getting ready to announce his plans to seek re-election in 2024.
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Still, those efforts could be derailed by the revelations that classified documents were found in an office he used after leaving the vice presidency and in his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Though the investigation, which is now underway, may find that it was the result of carelessness on the part of a former staffer, it still doesn’t bode well for Biden, especially as the matter wasn’t disclosed for more than 10 weeks.
This recent controversy in itself may not even be all the serious.
Yet, it would be easy for any political opponent to frame it with other Joe Biden missteps in his lengthy political career. The president is routinely fact-checked for the tall tales that he revels in sharing with audiences, whereas Biden is often an everyman, yet somehow still the star of the story.
But the classified document issue could also be a reminder of a far more serious scandal from Biden’s past – namely, the fact that he has been caught plagiarizing from other politicians.
Joe Biden: Lier and Plagerist
The issue of plagiarism was so significant that it ultimately ended Biden’s first White House bid back in 1987. Biden, who had chaired the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, was reported to be among the Democrat’s best chances of taking back the White House.
His campaign ended after just three months, even before the primary season had begun after he was caught using some five pages from a published law review article without quotation or attribution in a paper he claimed to have actually written as a first-year student at the Syracuse University College of Law.
Biden had apologized to his law school, and claimed his actions were “unintentional.”
But then on the campaign trail he used – again without attribution – substantial portions of speeches by U.S. lawmakers Hubert Humphrey and Robert Kennedy, but also by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. Biden initially tried to suggest the claims “were ado about nothing,” and suggested he didn’t know he was using the words of others, but the allegations were enough that it derailed his campaign.
In his 2008 memoir Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics, Joe Biden finally addressed his mistakes, writing, “When I stopped trying to explain to everybody and thought it through, the blame fell totally on me.”
Yet, the issue seemed to have continued even in the 2020 presidential election when it was reported that Biden lifted ideas, slogans, and writings from others. This included “word-for-word” language from other groups, while Biden’s “Build Back Better” slogan was a phrase that was attributed to Bill Clinton in 2006 – and was later used by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The issue was so great that Slate.com reported in October 2019 that Joe Biden’s campaign spent at least $4,200 on “anti-plagiarism software,” after it had unintentionally used language from other sources in its climate and education proposals without proper credit.
While it appears that Biden has learned from his past mistakes on the matter, we need to remember that there isn’t software that will stop him from telling lies or making excuses for mistakes that are very much his own.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
January 17, 2023 at 2:04 pm
One Phrase “Pathological Liar”
Robert Daniel Brehm
March 2, 2023 at 3:56 pm
Your column is fascinating. “The Story Has a Secret” recently endorsed by the New York Times, as one of the books recommended in 2023 addresses the issues of the secrets of the stories people tell and why.