WASHINGTON — Senator Rand Paul’s political future continued to dim this week as reporters and adversaries unearthed further instances of plagiarism stretching back to the Kentucky senator’s formative schooldays.
Initial reports that the senator lifted portions of his speeches from Wikipedia were initially dismissed as the indiscretions of young staffers, but further investigation revealed that Paul’s entire political philosophy may have been based on a slapdash book report copied, in large part, from CliffsNotes.
Paul’s high school book report, entitled “Objectivism in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand by Randal Paul,” includes entire paragraphs lifted verbatim from the popular study guide designed for students who prefer to skip the tedious prose and get straight to the executive summary.
Joanne Taggart, who taught Paul at Brazoswood High School where he was involved in swimming and football, said, “Randal didn’t spend a lot of time hitting the books.” She remembers Paul “complaining that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was, ‘not in any literary sense a serious novel, it [was] an earnest one, belligerent and unremitting in its earnestness.’”
Fact checkers have since sourced Paul’s criticism back to a 1957 review by Granville Hicks of the New York Times.
Taggart characterized Paul’s grasp of Ayn Rand’s philosophy as, “loose at best, designed to woo the ladies into thinking he was a serious intellectual when he was anything but.”
Unsurprised that Paul apparently never read any of Ayn Rand’s books in full despite regularly quoting them at length in Congress, Taggart suggested that, “Randal—or Rand as he’s now known—is as unfit for the U.S. presidency as he was for class president.”
Paul defended himself by calling Rachel Maddow, who first raised the charges against him, a “hater” and maintained that he is “not a plagiarist.”“A plagiarist is someone who commits the ‘wrongful appropriation’ and ‘purloining and publication’ of another author’s ‘language, thoughts, ‘ideas, or expressions.’”
Ironically, senator’s definition also appears to come from the Wikipedia entry for “plagiarism.”
Still, Paul has vowed to footnote his public statements and establish a “study group” to discuss Ayn Rand’s oeuvre, promising to “actually read her works cover to cover this time, not just the book jackets.”