Biden's lesson for Baerbock: A plagiarist can still become president



In the end, his life story of an exemplary climber carried him to the White House, in spite of intermittent whispers: Joe Biden.

Image: Reuters

Convicted as a copyist, suspected of being a braggart: in 1987 Joe Biden was in a position in which Annalena Baerbock is now. His fall and rise again show the role that the personal plays in politics.

IIn the United States, like baseball players, policy advisers have theirs Hall of Fameif only on the Internet, not as a museum with cufflinks, Blackberries and paperback editions of Machiavelli in the showcases. Eddie Mahe, Jr., whom his colleagues from the American Political Consultants Association praise as a pioneer in the application of new media and technologies, is immortalized there. He installed the first computer in the Republican party headquarters in Washington. Mahe died on May 3, 2020 at the age of 83. He has never seen one of his predictions falsified. On September 17, 1987, he told the New York Times: "Joe Biden will never be elected President of this country."


Patrick Bahners

Features correspondent in Cologne and responsible for “humanities”.

Biden, then a Senator for Delaware and candidate for the Democratic presidential candidacy of 1988, had given a press conference that day, at which he admitted that as a law student he had copied five pages from a journal article word for word in a term paper without proof. Mahe seemed to be right at first. The next press conference followed just six days later, at which Biden announced that he was withdrawing from the race - with strong reluctance ("with incredible reluctance"), as he added in his honest manner, expressly hesitant, as if he had given up can still be revoked at the moment of the announcement.