Politicians are beginning to understand that a campaign website is essential in any race. Maybe they got the idea while perusing a newspaper from 2001, or maybe the idea has been “held for further study” for the last 13 years. Either way, in 2014, a campaign website is de rigeur.
Most politicians “borrow” ideas from one another – sometimes between generations. Politicians may change the words they use to express these ideas and policies, but it’s pretty easy to spot these borrowed ideas because the overriding characteristics of economic or social policy are, frankly, pretty easy to spot, despite the shift in semantics. It appears, however, that many Libertarian and Republican candidates can’t even be bothered with the window dressing of new language.
BuzzFeed reports this week that several elected Republicans and Libertarians across the country have lifted language from the website of U.S. Senator and second generation libertarian, Rand Paul (R – Kentucky), including Rhode Island state Senator and Deputy Minority whippersnapper, Nicholas Kettle. Not surprisingly, Rand’s policies are derived from his namesake, noted author Ayn Rand whose abysmally bad prose serves as the moral justification behind the most wrong-headed libertarian and Republican policies. Hell, in Rhode Island, many policies promulgated by the so-called Democrats have echoes of Atlas Shrugged.
I never thought I’d write the next six words
Thanks, BuzzFeed for the investigative reporting. Seriously? BuzzFeed?
Senator Kettle, pay close attention to what I do next. I using a bold font to make sure you don’t miss it. It’s called attribution.
BuzzFeed Staffer Andrew Kaczynski writes, “In Rhode Island, state senator and deputy minority whip, Nicholas Kettle appears to also have plagiarized his entire campaign issues page from Paul.”
Notice how I used not only a direct attribution, but also italicized text so that you’d understand where my words stop and someone else’s begin? It’s simple really. Also take heed; a mere 145 words ago, I was kind enough to include a link back to what journalists and every other person refer to as the “source.”
I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say that the similarities of word choice and sentence structure between the two Right, Honorable Senators are striking. And by striking, I mean nearly verbatim. Even without the attribution and italics, it’s 4th grade easy to notice where Paul’s words end and Kettle’s begin. Kettle tries to localize the energy debate by using the Deepwater Wind Farm. Feast your eyes on this butchering of the written English language from Kettle’s energy policy.
As for the off shore wind project off of Block Island I believe the Government should stay out of this issue but I will say for the community of Block Island should approve of it before anything should go forward.
I’ve seen better usage from a second year ESL student. The live version of Kettle’s website has been significantly pared down, but thanks to the miracle of webpage caching and a little website called the Wayback Machine, his plagiarism lives on. You don’t even have to use the Wayback; his live homepage is an absolute scream – and not in the we-all-scream-for-ice-cream way.
Enter the ProJo
Now, when the story broke locally the Providence Journal ran this story. Which is funny in and of itself because the original picture in the story was, in fact, a composite of Nick Kettle and Ted Cruz, not Rand Paul.
Journal staffer Randy Edgar asks if he wrote the position statements on his 2010 site, he said no, that they were written by someone who no longer works for him.
“To me I think it’s a tempest in a teapot and looks like Democratic smear tactics,” the Coventry Republican said. “If anybody has any concerns with plagiarism, it should be Rand Paul.”
This may be the penultimate answer to this question. Not only does he not back down, or at least give the pat, I’ll look into it and get back to you, he DOUBLES DOWN by simultaneously blaming Democrats, all but accusing the Rand Paul campaign of plagiarism, and if I’m not mistaken, making a pun about his last name. Kettle hasn’t made comment on whether the pun was intended or unintended.
I wonder if Rand Paul feels worse about a) The ProJo mistaking Ted Cruz for him, or b) Kettle’s unattributed seizure of Mr. Paul’s intellectual property. The world may never know. As recently as 2010, the libertarians are in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis over intellectual property rights. As for Mr. Kettle’s alleged plagiarism, I suggest he change his website’s policy page to one line of text:
For more information on my policies and positions, please visit www.paul.senate.gov.
(Clarification: As pointed out to me on Twitter, by the ProJo’s intrepid web guru, Daryl Ann West or @darylawest, the photo on the website was fixed almost immediately after several Facebook and Twitter posts – some of them my own – pointed out the discrepancy. Congrats to Ms. West for actually following best management practices by monitoring and reacting to social media feedback. Give her a raise, ProJo!)