Phineas blogged about this developing scandal yesterday involving the ‘alleged’ master’s thesis plagiarism of Montana Senator John Walsh (D), but the Senator’s biggest issue going forward may not be in the allegations themselves but in his controversial attempts at excusing them away:
Sen. John Walsh said his unattributed use of others’ work in his master’s thesis was not plagiarism but “a few citations that were unintentionally left out of a term paper” that he blamed in part on post-Iraq war trauma.
The apparent plagiarism first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday was the second potentially damaging issue raised this year involving the Montana Democrat’s 33-year military career, which has been a cornerstone of his campaign to keep the seat he was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
National Democrats said Wednesday they remained “100 percent behind Sen. Walsh” in his campaign against Republican Rep. Steve Daines. But even before the plagiarism revelations, top Democratic strategists saw Walsh’s campaign as an uphill pull, never counting on it as key to holding their Senate majority.
Walsh dismissed the notion that the allegations will harm his campaign. He also chafed at the suggestion that he deliberately presented other scholars’ work as his own in his 2007 thesis to earn a Master of Strategic Studies degree at the U.S. Army War College.
“I admit that I made a mistake,” he said. “My record will be defined by (Walsh’s service in) the National Guard, not by a few citations that were unintentionally left out in a term paper.”
Walsh said that when he wrote the thesis, he had post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran’s recent suicide.
“I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,” the senator said. “My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.”
You know what? No. Blaming this on PTSD is just wrong on so many levels and is, frankly, an insult to the our veterans who have experienced it. Check this graphic from the New York Times – which, surprisingly enough, broke this story, and decide for yourself:
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 24, 2014
As to what impact this may have on Walsh’s election battle, it’s hard to say. As Phineas noted yesterday, plagiarism hasn’t hurt VP Biden’s political career and other notable politicos (like Sen. Rand Paul) have been caught in similar scandals, but this one involves military service, and there is that little matter of honor, as Army War College grad/colonel Kurt Schlichter notes:
I do NOT want these allegations against Sen Walsh to be true. Make no mistake, I support his opponent. But I want him to retain his honor.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) July 24, 2014