Plagiarism: It’s not just for Bidens anymore.
If you sat through the nearly three hours of Democrat debate on Thursday night, good work. I did because, well, I write about this stuff. If you watched it in full and you don’t have any skin in the game, you’ve exempted yourself from complaining about how long “The Irishman” is.
At some point, you start looking for the humor in all this, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren provided the two funniest moments of the night. The first was probably unintentional; the Massachusetts senator’s back-and-forth with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg over fundraisers bequeathed upon us the incredibly memeable two-word construct “wine cave.”
Was it substantive? Of course not. Did it help her campaign? No in italics. In fact, both Buttigieg and Warren saw their chances die a little during that exchange on Thursday. As scuffles go, it was kind of like Hamlet vs. Laertes, if Hamlet had a fundraiser with $900 bottles of wine and Laertes was proposing campaign finance purity tests he couldn’t pass.
Was it hilarious? Absolutely. If you watched it, don’t try to tell me otherwise. In fact, for the next 15 minutes or so, the candidates kept talking but all I was hearing was “wine cave.”
Warren’s second funny moment was actually intended to be humorous — and it was actually a solid clapback. As you well know, of the four front-runners, three are over the age of 70. (And the other likes wine caves.) Age could be an issue for voters, which is why the gang of trois was asked about it.
“Sen. Warren, you would be the oldest president ever inaugurated,” Politico correspondent Tim Alberta said. “I’d like you to weigh in as well.”
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 20, 2019
“I’d also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated,” she quipped back. Cue massive applause.
Even if she’d come up with that line before the debate in anticipation, you have to admit that was pretty good. Even some minor conservative writers nobody has actually heard of thought it deserved some props:
— C. Douglas Golden (@CillianZeal) December 20, 2019
I don’t know who that guy is, but his employer should check his background for covert liberalism. However, there were plenty of legitimate blue-checkmark liberals who weren’t the author of this article that thought this was the line of the night:
“I’d also be the youngest woman ever elected President”?
– Elizabeth Ann Warren, 9:18pm Eastern Standard Time, Thursday, December 19th, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) December 20, 2019
— Billy Procida (@TheBillyProcida) December 20, 2019
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 20, 2019
Anyway, as I said, even if she’d come up with it before the debate — or someone on her staff had come up with it — it was still pretty funny. That wouldn’t have been a problem. The problem would be if someone else had come up with it, someone who wasn’t on her campaign and wasn’t attributed.
And that’s where the presidential candidate who was supposed to be the youngest female president of the United States comes in:
.@HillaryClinton addresses age and obvious woman factor in same sentence…”I’ll be the youngest female president of the United States”
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) June 13, 2015
The line actually dates back to when Clinton kicked off her presidential campaign in June of 2015 on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, as reported earlier by the Washington Free Beacon.
“I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States,” Clinton said. “You won’t see my hair turn white in the White House. I’ve been coloring my hair for years.”
This isn’t lifting a whole speech from Neil Kinnock, mind you. (For those who don’t remember 31-year-old political scandals — and why wouldn’t you? — Joe Biden basically scuppered his 1988 presidential campaign by lifting sections of a campaign speech from Kinnock, then the head of Britain’s Labour Party, without giving Kinnock attribution.)
However, with the exception of Biden, Warren is the only serious contender in the 2020 race with a history of major honesty issues.
It’s not just the minor lies politicians invariably tell. Warren’s claims of Native American heritage and subsequent attempts to defuse the scandal surrounding them almost killed her campaign before it started. That dumpster conflagration of a DNA test — and the attendant fraction “1/1024” — will constantly dog her campaign if she gets the nomination. If she even gets close, you feel, there are going to be more than a few surrogates from other camps that are going to bring it up.
It hasn’t stopped there, sadly. During a recent confrontation with a school choice advocate, Warren denied sending her children to private school. The problem is that a yearbook picture of her child from an exclusive Austin, Texas, private school had already surfaced online.
There are two things that aren’t working in Warren’s favor here:
First, I don’t think anyone looks at that line and believes it wasn’t rehearsed.
Second, if it was rehearsed, it beggars belief that no one in the room knew the provenance of the quip. This is supposed to be the smartest candidate in the 2020 field, someone who can play 8-D underwater Go while Donald Trump is playing 3-D chess.
She (almost certainly) couldn’t come up with her own quip and she (if true) couldn’t see how this could potentially backfire on her.
If she did know and this was rehearsed — and I’d put the chances of that not being the case at 1/1024th of a percent — all she had to do was preface this with, “As Hillary Clinton one said …” before the bon mot. That’s all she had to do to avoid another minor controversy that again shines a light back on more serious controversies.
In fact, if she mentioned the origin of the quip, the applause probably would have been louder.
She didn’t, and here we are again.
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