Retrospect. Hindsight. We should have seen this coming. All of that. But the thing about the clarity of hindsight is that every once in a while, we might feel compelled to pause and ask ourself why certain things are expected.
For instance, Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R-12). What’s that? She’s a plagiarist? Well … right. Should have seen that one coming. Andrew Kaczynski and Ilan Ben-Meir of BuzzFeed posted the seemingly inevitable lede:
Passages of local paper pieces under Ernst’s name appear to have been copied word for word from templates sent as guidelines to Republican members of the Iowa Senate.
The Ernst campaign responded by arguing that the copied materials were produced specifically to be compied as if they were a person’s own work.
If it seems reasonable enough to argue that Gov. Terry Brandstad’s “Condition of the State” address in 2012 was intended to be reproduced by fellow Republicans as if it was their own writing, well, that covers plagiarism.
But it doesn’t cover one’s inability to convey their own thoughts and feelings.
Ken Rozenboom, one of several state senators who published articles with text identical or nearly identical to Ernst’s told BuzzFeed News that the common language was drawn from summaries of the week’s events sent to members of the Senate Republican caucus by their communications team.
“Some … use them in their entirety, some use tidbits,” he said, noting the summaries sent were meant to be used as guidelines.
Another state senator, Sen. Michael Breitbach said, “I write my own. I don’t know what they do.”
Gregory Orear, editor of Red Oak Express, one of the newspapers that ran the suspect columns, explained that he “wouldn’t be shocked”, as he considers them “bottom of the barrel” editorials. “I’m sure some of it was cut and pasted,” he told Buzzfeed. “It’d be nice if she had her own thoughts in it.”
Any number of punch lines suggest themselves, here.
Meanwhile, the nation waits with bated breath as election day approaches. Will Iowa send seditious incompetence to the U.S Senate for the sake of a parenthetic note? That is, if the winning argument is that Joni Ernst’s name is followed by an “(R)”, well, frankly there would be many around the nation who just aren’t surprised.
Iowa, we’re looking in your direction.
Kaczynski, Andrew and Ilan Ben-Meir. “Iowa Republican Copied And Pasted Passages In Newspaper Dispatches”. BuzzFeed. 29 October 2014.