As someone who helped Scott Brown get elected to the Senate (yes, it was I who leaked his nude Cosmo photos, thus clinching his win), I feel it is incumbent on me to come to his defense now. Sen. Brown stands accused of having plagiarized Elizabeth Dole for a short passage on his website. Instead of simply blaming an “intern” for the “technical oversight” of not completely rewriting Dole’s website, I would suggest to Sen. Brown that he own up to the accusation, and embrace it. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I can think of no greater homage to Liddy Dole than to plagiarize her.
With all the mainstream media accounts of this story, very few have bothered to read the words in question. Part of Dole’s quote was “I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference.” Exactly. To prove the point that there are “no limits to individual achievement,” one has to embrace the collective wisdom of one’s forebears (specifically, Liddy Dole’s wisdom). And to further her thought, there are “no excuses” to be indifferent to this policy. Which is to say that if he firmly believed in Dole’s view of achievement, then he doesn’t owe us any excuse for her phrasing at all. In fact, to attribute the quote with superfluous so-called “quotation marks,” would lessen Brown’s own individual achievement, and therefor render the quote meaningless. Ergo, Dole’s own words practically beg for it to be plagiarized. To do any less, would be an insult to Dole herself.
Now, in full disclosure, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to come to the defense of plagiarism. Three years ago, I wrote a widely read Op-Ed in reaction to the swift firing of Bush Administration aide Tim Goeglein, who was accused of plagiarizing a Dartmouth history professor in op-eds Goeglein was writing for the Fort Wayne News Sentinel. My investigation into the story led to one revelation after another: The history professor who was allegedly plagiarized was himself a disgraced former Nixon speechwriter with a dubious attitude towards Jews. It turned out the passage in question had also been appropriated by a Bush-era Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, who had been fraternity pals with Jordan’s King Abdullah.
All of which is to say that it’s probably not surprising to hear that Elizabeth Dole has taken the high road and forgiven Scott Brown. Chances are, she didn’t write the quote in question either (that’s what campaign speechwriters are for). She definitely repurposed it, using the quote multiple times - in speeches, in a video launching her campaign and on her website. It was that good. And apparently, it still is.
My only question is that with all the smart MIT and Harvard grads floating around Boston, why couldn’t the Brown camp have hired an intern who knew how to build a website from scratch? Oh well, next time!