Sen. John Walsh, D-Montana, has been caught red-handed plagiarizing a report for his master’s degree.
The New York Times did a tremendous public service by discovering and reporting on the plagiarism at the Army War College.
Since then, many voters are taking a second look at the former general and his candidacy. The war college is taking a second look at the degree he received.
The senator and his staff have given various accounts of the whole mess in recent days. But one gets the sense that there is something of a shrug of the shoulders: It’s no big deal, just a mistake. Now let’s move on.
Indeed, Montana voters may decide to move on between now and the fall election. that is their prerogative. Some may decide that other issues override the plagiarism matter. for a whole host of reasons, they may decide to support Walsh over his opponent in the fall election, Republican Steve Daines.
Voters may decide to move on, but one thing should be made clear: It is a big deal, a very big deal.
Students flunk the course if they are caught plagiarizing. Many colleges boot students out altogether if they are discovered stealing the work of others. Many well-known authors lose their occupations and their livelihood.
Reporters are booted out no questions asked. The Havre Daily News has promptly shown two free-lance writers the door after they attempted to use listed material as their own.
Stealing people’s literary talents is a serious violation of ethics not just in academia or journalism but in every walk of life. It should be the same in Washington, even with the sorry reputation Congress has for ethical behavior.
If Walsh and his crowd have any hope of being taken seriously, the senator ought to come forward, admit a serious mistake, apologize and stop using the sad excuse that he was suffering from PTSD at the time.
He should ’fess up to a grievous violation of military ethics and throw himself on the mercy of Montana voters.
Montanas can then decide if this is enough so that they can move on and consider other issues in the campaign.
For now, this ethical blunder is a roadblock to considering the Walsh candidacy.