Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rand Paul, plagiarism, and the dangers of employing inexperienced true-believers

Puppy Love

Posted by Chris Haire on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 2:26 PM

click to enlarge Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul - FLICKR, GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Flickr, Gage Skidmore
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
As you know by now, Rand Paul has been hit by charges that he's a plagiarist, and while most folks in the general public don't seem to mind, we here in the newspaper world do. There are few people we hate more than PR flacks, and all of those folks just so happen to be copy-stealing hacks who think they can pass off other people's work as their own and get away with it. Which means that I should hate Rand Paul, but I don't. I pity him.

See, Sen. Paul is like a lot of other Tea Party politicians who have risen to power thanks to their little populist uprising — he doesn't really know what he's doing. Of course, the Tea Party itself is a movement led by inexperienced Republicans who were angry that they had been denied positions of authority in the GOP power structure by their more successful, better connected, and more politically adept brethren.

While there's no mistaking that Paul is more politically savvy than his father, he's still a newbie to Beltway politics. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, his flaws could be forgiven if, like most Tea Partiers, Paul didn't depend on equally inexperienced staffers to help guide his way. I mean, for Pete's sake, the Southern Avenger Jack Hunter was one of his foreign-policy advisors. And so Paul is on his own, with no one to really help him.

In part, Paul's loneliness is a product of his grass-rabble base. He's an outsider, who was embraced by other outsiders and who in turn rewarded them with positions within his organization. But it's also because Paul, like his father, has fostered a cult of personality, and in such an environment, the dear leader is solely in charge — his words are pure and his deeds infallible. The only way that a staffer can survive, much less move up, in such an environment is to support Paul's every action and agree with his every thought. 

Which brings us to the latest Paul controversy. 

There are few folks who actually believe that Rand Paul plagiarized Wikipedia articles and the like. He's a man with a post-grad degree. Surely, he knows that he has to cite his sources. But that inexperienced staffer who didn't get a college degree and who follows Paul around like he's a twitterpated puppy just waiting for that moment when his man-god master rubs his wittle head — yeah, that guy just might rip several paragraphs out of a news article in a nationally published publication and try to pass it off as his own work, especially when the only real talent they have is drinking out of someone else's half-empty water dish.

Right now, it sure seems like Rand Paul has a whole team of That Guys working for him. And if he doesn't bring on a more experienced staff, someone who'll challenge the cult of personality he's created, chances are it'll happen again. You can't keep That Guy down for long. Eventually, he'll stumble his way out of his master's shadow and shit on the rug, right in front of everybody.

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