Senator John Walsh, already behind in his bid for reelection, suffered another setback in his campaign, and possibly his political career, when Jonathan Martin at the New York Times accused Senator Walsh of plagiarizing his master’s thesis. He then backed up his accusations with a marked up version of Senator Walsh’s thesis, with the plagiarized passages highlighted in two different colors.
Senator Walsh is not the first politician in recent memory to have been caught plagiarizing. Late last year, Senator Rand Paul was accused of plagiarism in two of his speeches, a book and an op-ed and Vice President Joe Biden faced plagiarism allegations both in 2008 and 1987. The 2008 election also saw allegations be hurled at now-President Barack Obama and his opponent John McCain.
But while plagiarism scandals routinely end political careers in Germany, in the U.S., such scandals are usually more than recoverable, so much so that the Washington Post recently called it a “Petty political crime.” However, for Walsh, the implications of the scandal are much more dire. His campaign is already embattled, behind in polls and funding, and the plagiarism scandal gives his opponents an opening to attack Senator Walsh’s record.
It could easily be the end of Senator Walsh’s political career.
But in addition to the issues it raises for Senator Walsh, the scandal raises other, possibly more important issues about the ways in which degrees, in particular higher degrees, are awarded and the roles those degrees play in how we choose our political leaders.Continue Reading