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Sarah Palin Plagiarizes Newt Gingrich?

5 years ago
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Last week, when introducing Ronald Reagan's son, Michael, to a crowd in Anchorage, Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin delivered a speech that made news for its stinging criticism of President Obama's economic stimulus package. Further analysis of the speech, however, suggests that Palin lifted many of its central ideas, and the way they were worded, from fellow conservative (and presumptive competitor in the 2012 race for president) Newt Gingrich.

It appears that much of Palin's text was inspired by an article that Gingrich and Craig Shirley published in 2005 in the Manchester Union Leader, titled "Republicans Need to Relearn Lessons of the Reagan Revolution." As dissected by the Huffington Post's Geoffrey Dunn, the similarities between the Gingrich/Shirley piece and Palin's remarks indicate that she relied heavily on the article when preparing her own remarks. (She even acknowledged, "Recently, Newt Gingrich, he had written a good article about Reagan.") Here, then, is a list of before and after (or after and before, to be more accurate) comparisons:

Palin: We have to remember that Ronald Reagan never won any arguments in Washington. He won the arguments by resonating with the American people.

Gingrich/Shirley: Reagan never won an argument in Washington. Reagan won his arguments in the country with the American people.


Palin: Remember this? His vision for the Cold War? We win, they lose.

Gingrich/Shirley: On the inevitability of the Soviet Union, Reagan responded with a then shocking vision for the Cold War -- "we win, they lose."

And more:
Palin: First, I think what we're going to learn tonight via Michael [Reagan] is that Ronald Reagan's ideas were the right ideas and all we have to do is look back at his record, his economic record and his national security record to know that his ideas were right.

Gingrich/Shirley: What should Americans learn from this remarkable man and his remarkable Presidency?... The "right" ideas really matter (the left was wrong and Reagan was right about virtually every major public policy issue and the historic record is clear for those willing to look at it).

And more:

Palin: And with detente, speaking of detente, he used two words: "Evil Empire."

Gingrich/Shirley: Reagan replaced the entire vision of detente with two vivid words: "Evil Empire."

Dunn goes on to cite six more strikingly similar passages from Palin's speech to show that a whole lot of cutting and pasting went into its preparation. Accused of plagiarizing the Gingrich and Shirley article, Palin's lawyer, Thomas Van Flein, responded: "It is abundantly clear in context, and even in subcontext, that the overview of President Reagan's legacy was attributed to Newt Gingrich."

True, Palin did mention Gingrich twice in the speech, but why was Palin so dependent on his (and Shirley's) analysis of "The Gipper" that she had to lift its wording so often? And why not highlight each and every passage in the speech that relied on Gingrich/Shirley with a clause like, "As Gingrich and Shirley wrote..."?

Plagiarism is a recurrent problem in politics. Joe Biden has done it. Barack Obama has been accused of the same (though on a much smaller scale). Perhaps this is a condition of our modern world, in which salient information is but a click away.

As yet, we have no comment form Gingrich on the borrowing of his old article. Should he be flattered, offended, or both?

UPDATE: Gingrich says he's flattered.

David at Paradigms Lost
David on Twitter

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