Evidently, some sins DO have consequences amongst the denizens of the Left. When the revelations came out regarding pop historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, I was expecting to hear a chorus of “Everybody lies about plagiarism,” while all the literati circled the wagons around their affable media star. Thankfully, this is not happening. In fact, Goodwin is being attacked from all sides, and has gone into virtual seclusion.
A few weeks ago, the story broke that she had used some phrases without proper attribution in her 1987 book “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys.” Goodwin downplayed the matter, and told the Boston Globe “Absolutely not,” when asked if she committed plagiarism. Soon after, though, more facts emerged, detailing dozens of passages that were lifted almost word for word from three other books. Moreover, Lynne McTaggart, author of one of these books, “Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times,” received a substantial out of court settlement from Goodwin in 1989.
Had this former Harvard professor committed a fraction of her admitted plagiarism as a student at this same institution, she would have been forced to withdraw for two semesters, forfeiting all course work, and all fees paid. At long last, this colossal phony, this lightweight recipient of every literary award you can name, including the Pulitzer, finally gets her comeuppance.
Goodwin used to speak at colleges all the time, but now, surely the “Dear Doris” letters are coming in by the score. Highly publicized was the University of Delaware’s withdrawal, only days after her mea culpa, of its invitation to her to serve as the speaker at its May, 2002 commencement. There will be many more.
Why has the Left abandoned one of its own? Others, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and “Roots” author Alex Haley, committed massive plagiarism. Indeed, Haley had to pay well over $500,000 for his indiscretions. However, the acts of King and Haley were made public after their deaths, and both men had achieved somewhat of a sacred cow status–a designation that could never have been applied to Goodwin.
Since the Left regards itself as the keeper of the flame of intellectualism, her sins could not be forgiven, even though what she writes hardly passes as serious history. Mark well that this did not stop the Pulitzer committee from awarding her its 1995 prize in history for “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front During World War II.” This sappy love letter to a couple, that for most of their years together was certainly NOT a couple except as an arrangement for show, also won the Harold Washington Library Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, the Ambassador Book Award and the Washington Monthly Book Award.
Even the most ardent defenders of FDR and his wife will readily concede that their flaws were legion, but absolutely none of these were worthy of mention in Goodwin’s multiple award winning production.
Goodwin could have easily kept the big bucks coming in from her TV appearances, and on the lecture tour. Nobody really seemed to mind that she was essentially an empty suit, since her politics were of the correct stripe.
But then, she got a bit too arrogant. As the Left’s official court historian, she thought she was above it all. Why work at creating, when copying is so much easier?
Frankly, I don’t care that hubris, rather than poor scholarship, brought her down. A high profile Leftie has been expunged from our midst, and it works for me.