Plagiarizing Pet Rocks

Somebody, presumably at BuzzFeed, noticed that a health care “plan” that was once featured (but has since been deleted) from Oregon GOP Monica Wehby’s web site bore a remarkable similarity to a set of health care policy “messages” in a poll previously released by Crossroads USA. BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski wrote it all up in embarassing detail: with a few minor exceptions, Team Wehby did indeed seem to cut-and-paste–or to use a technical term, plagiarize–Crossroads’ stuff on health care, not that Rove’s group is about to sue her or anything. What makes this striking is that Wehby is a practicing physician.

I love the Wehby campaign’s rejoinder:

“The suggestion that a pediatric neurosurgeon needs to copy a health care
plan from American Crossroads is absurd,” a Wehby campaign spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “Dr. Wehby is too busy performing brain surgery on sick children to respond, sorry.”

Yeah, it is absurd, isn’t it–not so much the “suggestion,” but what it “suggests” about Wehby’s campaign.

In her defense, though, the stuff in both Crossroads’ poll and in Wehby’s plan is so incredibly hackneyed, such a tired assortment of conservative health policy pet rocks—HSAs, interstate insurance sales, high-deductible catastrophic insurance for everybody, tax deductions for individual insurance purchases–that use of the very same words isn’t that surprising. It’s not like any original thinking is going into this, so why use any original writing to describe it?

To put it another way, as my friend Will Marshall used to say when Republicans talked about Bill Clinton “stealing their ideas:” You can’t steal from an empty wallet.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.