The White House Plagiarist

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, February 29, 2008; 2:08 PM

Timothy S. Goeglein, a top White House aide who is President Bush's chief liaison to religious groups, has admitted to plagiarizing a column he wrote for his hometown paper, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel.

Goeglein is a special assistant to the president and deputy director of public liaison. He previously worked closely with Karl Rove and during the 2004 election was Bush's chief emissary to conservative political groups.

Sylvia A. Smith writes in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: "A Fort Wayne native and White House official acknowledged Friday he copied large portions of an essay that appeared in a Dartmouth College publication and presented them as his own in a News-Sentinel column.

"'It is true,' Tim Goeglein wrote to The Journal Gazette in an email. 'I am entirely at fault. It was wrong of me. There are no excuses.'

"He said he wrote to the author of the essay, Jeffrey Hart 'to apologize, and do so categorically and without exception.'

" Nancy Nall, a former News-Sentinel columnist who writes a blog from her home in Michigan, detailed the nearly word-for-word similarities of eight paragraphs of Goeglein's 16-paragraph essay about college education, which appeared in the News-Sentinel Thursday, and Hart's column, which was written about a decade ago.

"Kerry Hubartt, editor of the News-Sentinel, said his newspaper learned of the apparent plagiarism Friday when Nall wrote about it. He said the newspaper had removed Goeglein's column from its web site and that editors were checking Goeglein's past columns for any other examples of copying. . . .

"Goeglein has worked in the Bush White House since 2001 as the Bush administration's liaison to religious organizations. He formerly worked for then-Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind."

Nall wrote in her blog that reading the column in yesterday's paper by Goeglein, "a name jumped out at me -- 'Eugene Rosenstock-Hussey,' described as a 'notable professor of philosophy at Dartmouth.' . . . This name was so goofy, just for the hell of it, I Googled it. And look what I found."

What she found were long passages apparently taken almost word for word from a 1998 article in the Dartmouth Review by Hart.

Since then, one of her readers found passages in Goeglein's Nov. 5 column about Hoagy Carmichael that appears lifted from a Jonathan Yardley essay published in The Washington Post on Sept. 3.

Another reader found Goeglein's July 23 column on John Wayne's centenary containing passages from an article by Bruce Bennett published in the New York Sun on June 20. That same reader then found similarities between Goeglein's July 5 column and an article by Robert R. Reilly published in Crisis Magazine on June 13.

And here's a note from Kerry Hubartt, the editor of the News-Sentinel: "Timothy S. Goeglein, former Fort Wayne resident and now a special assistant to President George Bush, has been accused of plagiarism over a guest column about education The News-Sentinel published on our editorial page on Thursday.

"Goeglein has admitted that portions of the column were used from another source without attribution. He has apologized to the editors of The News-Sentinel and also said there may be other previous columns he has written for The News-Sentinel that also may contain plagiarized material. We have found material in at least two other previous guest columns lifted from other sources without attribution and are continuing to check other previous submissions."

Here are 2004 profiles of Goeglein from the Washington Post and the New York Times.

On Wednesday, Goeglein contributed a short essay to a National Review appreciation of William F. Buckley. The National Review identified him as director of public liaison, which would mean he got promoted recently. Goeglein's office wouldn't confirm that, and the White House press office has not yet returned calls.

UPDATE, 3 p.m.: White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore called me back and said the White House was made aware of the plagiarism issue this morning, when Goeglein "alerted his immediate supervisor," Julie Cram, who is the director of public liaison.

"This is not acceptable. We are disappointed in Tim's actions. He is offering no excuses and he agrees it was wrong," Lawrimore said. "Plagiarism is unacceptable."

Lawrimore said Goeglein was at work today, but she wouldn't speculate on his future. The president was not briefed on the situation before he left for a weekend in Crawford, she said, so "I have nothing further for you on next steps."

She added: "Over the years, Tim has worked very hard on behalf of the president, and it's disappointing."

Contempt Watch

Lara Jakes Jordan writes for the Associated Press: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the Justice Department on Thursday to open a grand jury investigation into whether President Bush's chief of staff and former counsel should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

"Pelosi, D-Calif., demanded that the department pursue misdemeanor charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers for refusing to testify to Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and against chief of staff Josh Bolten for failing to turn over White House documents related to the dismissals.

"She gave Attorney General Michael Mukasey one week to respond and said refusal to take the matter to a grand jury will result in the House's filing a civil lawsuit against the Bush administration.

"The White House branded the request as 'truly contemptible.' The Justice Department said it had received Pelosi's request and anticipated providing further guidance after Mukasey's review. It noted 'long-standing department precedent' in such cases against letting a U.S. attorney refer a congressional contempt citation to a grand jury or prosecute an executive branch. The top House Republican called it 'a partisan political stunt' and 'a complete waste of time,' according to a spokesman....

"At the White House, spokesman Tony Fratto said House Democrats 'have been trying to redefine the notion of contempt and they succeeded.'"

Here is Pelosi's letter to Mukasey: "There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a President unilaterally instructs them to do so. Even if a subpoenaed witness intends to assert a privilege in response to questions, the witness is not at liberty to disregard the subpoena and fail to appear at the required time and place. Surely, your Department would not tolerate that type of action if the witness were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury. Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a President to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents."

Yesterday's Press Conference

Michael Abramowitz writes in The Washington Post that Bush "weighed in on some of the foreign policy issues that have cropped up recently on the trail, criticizing the Democratic presidential contenders for their positions on Iraq and trade and, in the case of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), for his willingness to meet with U.S. adversaries.

"In a wide-ranging news conference at the White House, his first in two months, Bush appeared especially animated in shooting down the proposition that a president should meet with the leaders of Cuba and Iran without preconditions, an idea that has been an element of Obama's foreign policy agenda and that has led to sparring with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

"'Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him,' Bush said, referring to the new Cuban president. 'He gains a lot from it by saying, "Look at me, I'm now recognized by the president of the United States."'"

Aides to Obama reacted sharply: "'It's not as though [Obama] is going to sit down for a rum and Coke with Raul Castro and say "Cheers,"' said Susan Rice, one of Obama's senior foreign policy advisers. 'Why the United States fears to negotiate or views direct discussions as a reward rather than as an instrument to change behavior is a mystery to anyone who studies diplomacy. It is a patently failed approach, as the U.S. has demonstrated over the last eight years.'"

And, as Abramowitz notes: "During his news conference, Bush appeared to draw a contrast between talking to the leaders of Cuba and Iran and having discussions with Russia and China, two countries whose repressive policies at home have drawn criticism from human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers."

For more, see yesterday's column, Bush vs. Obama.

Library Watch

Ken Herman writes for Cox News Service: "President Bush, declining to say if he would disclose which donors will give millions of dollars to build his library in Dallas, said Thursday the facility will probably be funded in part by foreign money.

"Addressing the topic publicly for the first time since last week's formal announcement of the selection of Southern Methodist University for the library, Bush didn't directly answer questions about how much it will cost and whether Americans should know who's paying for it."

Brendan McKenna writes in the Dallas Morning News: "Mr. Bush said at a news conference that some people 'like to give and don't particularly want their names disclosed . . . and so we'll take that into consideration. . . .

"Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who authored a bill to require disclosure of donations to presidential library foundations, said the prospect of secret donors poses a problem.

"'When you have foreign governments and foreign business people and corporations giving huge amounts of money when the president is sitting there able to do favors for them, we ought to have it disclosed,' he said. 'I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he hadn't thought it through. ... I hope he'll become more sensitive to it.'"

Bush tried to explain his non-answers about the library by saying: "We just announced the deal, and I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my trip to Africa."

Focused on Gas Prices? Hardly

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post about Bush's surprise upon hearing from a reporter yesterday that Americans are facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline: "You could've knocked Bush over with a feather. 'Oh, yeah?' he said. 'That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.'

"Uh-oh. The president, once known for his common-guy skills, sounded eerily like his old man, who in 1992 appeared surprised that supermarkets had bar-code scanners. On Wednesday, the $4-a-gallon forecasts had been on the front page of the New York Times, and on NBC's 'Today Show' and CBS's 'Early Show.' In the days before that, the prediction -- made by AAA, among others -- was in the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, even the Kansas City Star. The White House press secretary took a question about $4 gas at her Wednesday press briefing. A poll last month found that nearly three-quarters of Americans expect $4 gas."

Maura Reynolds, Michelle Quinn and Ronald D. White write in the Los Angeles Times: "Bush's acknowledged unfamiliarity with the recent cost of gasoline produced some fumes at the pump.

"At a Shell service station in the Bay Area city of San Mateo, the price of a gallon of regular had already reached $4.29, well above the state average of $3.42, as measured by the AAA auto club.

"'Bush is out of touch with a lot of things we are facing today,' said 33-year-old Marisa Cajbon, who was filling her Toyota Sequoia SUV with the expensive fuel. 'I have to buy gas. I need to work. I have two kids. I think it's unfortunate. I think it's a crime.' . . .

"Roy Persinco, who filled up his Ford 250 pickup truck for $3.25 a gallon at a Santa Monica Shell station Thursday, said he spent $125 a week on gas.

"'I can't believe that an ex-oilman could be so unaware and ignorant of what is going on around him in the real world, but I'm sure his old buddies in the oil industry can tell him they're doing just fine,' Persinco said.

"Another motorist, Grant Reese of West Los Angeles, volunteered to help the president keep in touch during his remaining days in office, lest he be caught off guard by the Washington press corps again.

"'I'd be happy to send him all my credit card receipts for gasoline from now on,' Reese said, watching the pump top $40 as he filled the tank of his Nissan Altima at a Sam's Club station in Long Beach."

Housing Watch

In a big win for the mortgage industry, Senate Republicans yesterday lined up behind Bush and blocked consideration of a bill that would have sent billions of dollars to local communities to buy up subprime mortgages and would have allowed bankruptcy judges to slash interest rates for low-income homeowners.

James Politi and Andrew Ward write in the Financial Times: "Bush yesterday attacked housing legislation proposed by the Democratic leadership in the Senate, saying it would 'do more to bail out lenders and speculators than to help American families keep their homes'."

Paul Kane writes in The Washington Post: "Democrats mocked Bush's statements at yesterday's news conference, where he urged giving the $168 billion stimulus package approved this month a 'chance to kick in first.'

"'That, to me, is straight out of the Herbert Hoover playbook,' Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters, adding that his bankruptcy measure would save family homes."

Edmund L. Andrews writes in the New York Times that "in presenting what they described as their own proposal to protect homeowners. . . . Republican lawmakers resorted to a grab bag of longstanding Republican initiatives, like making Mr. Bush's tax cuts permanent and reducing 'frivolous litigation,' that had little direct connection to the mortgage mess.

Optimism About Iraq

Bush isn't the only one who thinks things have turned the corner in Iraq.

Amit R. Paley and Joshua Partlow write in The Washington Post: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gazed out at a sea of chanting Shiite pilgrims Thursday and offered a brash appraisal of his administration's 21-month tenure.

"'We promised we would bring national reconciliation to the sons of Iraq, and we have succeeded!' Maliki thundered to hundreds of thousands of Shiites gathered at the golden-domed Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala. 'Iraqis are once again loving brothers!'

"Maliki is facing a drumbeat of criticism that his government has achieved little progress as well as constant calls for his ouster, but these days he hardly sounds like a man fighting for his political survival. He acts as if he has the upper hand over his political rivals, brusquely rejecting demands from key allies and making a bold grab for greater control of the federal bureaucracy. . . .

"Maliki's confidence seems untethered to political reality. Predicting when his government will fall has become a parlor game in certain circles in Baghdad. And some of his pronouncements -- like one on Thursday that 'sectarianism has been eliminated' -- have struck Iraqi and American officials as bordering on the delusional. Sectarian killings are still common and political reconciliation remains elusive, a fact underscored by the veto this week of a law calling for nationwide elections, one of the few major pieces of legislation approved by parliament.

"'He's failed at governing,' acknowledged a senior U.S. official in Baghdad, who was granted anonymity so he could speak candidly."

So what's the source of Maliki's confidence?

"The 57-year-old Shiite and former exile feels little cause for concern, according to his aides, because he enjoys the strong backing of the Bush administration, which worries that the chaos triggered by the collapse of Maliki's government would prompt a new wave of sectarian bloodletting across Iraq."

Pakistan Watch

Glenn Kessler's tea-leaf reading in The Washington Post suggests that the administration's support for another embattled leader may finally be slacking off.

But so far, at least, as David Rohde writes in the New York Times: "The Bush administration's continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf, despite the overwhelming rejection of his party by voters this month, is fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan with the United States.

"That support has rankled the public, politicians and journalists here, inciting deep anger at what is perceived as American meddling and the refusal of Washington to embrace the new, democratically elected government. . . .

"Pakistanis say the Bush administration is grossly misjudging the political mood in Pakistan and squandering an opportunity to win support from the Pakistani public for its fight against terrorism. The opposition parties that won the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections say they are moderate and pro-American. By working with them, analysts say, Washington could gain a vital, new ally. . . .

"Mr. Bush and other administration officials still regard Mr. Musharraf as a significant player and as a force for stability in Pakistan, and one who could regain his standing, said an official involved in the policy deliberations."

And yet, as Rohde points out: "Over the last year, American assessments have repeatedly proven wrong. Before the Feb. 18 elections, a senior American intelligence official predicted in a briefing to journalists that no party would win a clear majority and that Mr. Musharraf would remain the strongest political figure in the country."

E-Mail Watch

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board writes about all those missing White House e-mails, and concludes: "This behavior, from the administration and the party that backs the Protect America Act and the government's desire to spy and archive our every move or thought expressed, would be screamingly hilarious were it not so galling."

Rove v. Obama

John D. McKinnon writes that Bush's criticism of Obama yesterday offered "glimpses of his campaign role to come."

So, I would maintain, did former White House political strategist Karl Rove's appearance on Fox News on Wednesday. Rove spoke about Obama to Alan Colmes.

Rove: "Look, with all due respect, he is a very left-wing Democrat. He came out of a very radical background in organizing. His record in the Senate is the most liberal, according to the 'National Journal.' He has been a conventional far-left Democrat. And we ought to recognize that. As a result, he has these associations and these people he has been comfortable being with who are not in mainstream America. Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin - - an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel."

Colmes: "Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pan? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn't about a pin? That is his point of view."

Rove: "Alan, I didn't say that. What he said was that people -- he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not -- in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pen. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels."

Colmes: "I didn't get that from what he said. What I got --"

Rove: "Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism -- quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin."

Colmes: "He wasn't questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war."

Rove: "No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I'm not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was."

Late Night Humor

Via U.S. News, Jay Leno: "See, you know, I don't think President Bush really understands the impact [$4 gas] has on the average American. Like, today, when they told him people would be paying $4 a gallon, he said, 'Why don't folks just buy half a gallon? And then with the money you save, you could buy the other gallon. You see what I'm saying?'"

And Conan O'Brien: "During a press conference today, President Bush said the following. He said it's important we make the economy stronger so 'families can put money on their tables.' Yes, then Bush said that Americans 'should deposit food in their bank accounts.'"

Jon Stewart took note of Bush's frequent podium pounding yesterday: "He's literally having a tantrum," Stewart said. "I think the president's got a little senioritis going. I think this fellah's a week away from yelling 'food fight' in the White House cafeteria."

The Daily Show's "senior White House correspondent" John Oliver, tells Stewart: "President Bush has done good in Africa. I did just say good there, didn't I?"

Stewart: "You did say good."

Oliver: "I kept saying 'bad' in rehearsal. It's force of habit, I suppose."

Stewart: "It's hard for you to accept that the president has done something admirable."

Oliver: "Well, it's just -- what's his angle? He's not running for reelection. There's no ulterior military objective. He's got no chance of becoming King of Africa. What the hell is going on?"

Stewart: "Well, maybe he's just trying to do something good in a difficult part of the world."

Oliver: "No! No! No! That makes it worse. Over the past seven excruciating years, I've come to terms with the president being incompetent. The fact that we now know he's been capable of doing good all along, and has simply chosen not to -- that really burns."

Cartoon Watch

Quite a crop: Tom Toles trashes Bush; Jim Morin drowns him; Jeff Danziger revokes Bush's MBA; M.E. Cohen unfurls Bush's new banner; and Jimmy Margulies introduces the new Bush twins.

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