Irregular Times NEWS FLASH: George W. Bush Endorses Plagiarism

In February of 2003, operatives for the Republican National Committee used their website to plant identical letters to the editor across the country. The carbon-copy letters were each signed by a different person, creating the impression that "plain folks" came up with the pro-Bush sentiments contained therein. After good investigative work by the Boston Globe, a bunch of bloggers and the exhaustive documentation of Failure Is Impossible, the truth came out: the Republican Party was actively encouraging its members to cut and paste the pre-written text, add their name, call it theirs, and send it in to the papers to be printed.

The Republican party called this an "instant grassroots" campaign. But after catching word, the American public came up with another name for the practice: Astroturf, or fake grassroots. In my university days, the professors called this plagiarism, and you could get kicked out of school for it. In high school, they used a smaller, more direct words for this kind of tactic: lying and cheating. In courts, they call this fraud.

You'd think that, having been caught in their astroturfing, plagiarizing, cheating scheme, the Republican party would have disavowed the practice and promised never to do it again. After all, George W. Bush promised that his party would be the party of Honor and Integrity, right? Right?

Wrong. The Republican Party engaged in the same campaign three months later, and despite considerable efforts to let papers across the country know that this junk was headed their way, a significant number of plagiarized letters to the editor made their way onto newsprint.

Now that the election 2004 season has started, the official campaign of George W. Bush has endorsed plagiarism as an acceptable political tactic, too. Apparently not confident in the ability of Bush's supporters to complete their own thoughts, much less their own sentences, the Bush-Cheney campaign offers snippets of text for people to appropriate, then sign their name to as authors. The fabrication technology employed by the Republican ticket then permits the Bush supporter to send the Bush campaign staffers' text to dozens of newspapers and specialty newsletters at a time automatically, with each letter claiming individual authorship and not disclosing the true authorship of the text.

How do I know how this works? I used the system myself to send a letter containing the Bush staffers' text to dozens of newspapers and newsletters near Durham, North Carolina, where I live. Don't fret: I haven't turned to the dark side, and I made sure to let the papers know who really wrote those words. In fact, that's kind of the idea. Read my letter below and you'll see what I mean.
Subject: George W. Bush ASTROTURF headed your way

Dear Editor,

I wrote this letter myself. Unfortunately, you'll be getting a number of letters in the next few days that aren't written by the people who say they wrote them.

George W. Bush's official campaign website is encouraging supporters to flood YOUR NEWSPAPER with ASTROTURF -- letters signed by ordinary citizens, but actually written by the Bush re-election committee. In using this tactic, George W. Bush is endorsing plagiarism as a political tactic.

Consider this a heads-up. If you see any snippets of the following text, you'll know that a Bush campaigner is ASTROTURFING you:

President Bush should be commended for his strong leadership on the economy. He has taken bold action to create lasting economic growth.

The Presidentís economic growth agenda creates jobs. His economic plan is focused on job creation and helps working families with immediate tax relief. Promoting investment is another critical component in the Presidentís agenda. Reducing the overall tax burden on small business and eliminating the unfair double tax on dividends spurs investment by individuals and businesses, enabling much needed capital investment and spurring job creation.

President Bush understands that we must save Social Security for seniors and for generations to come. His approach preserves the current Social Security system for those at or near retirement while providing new options for young people.

The Presidentís plan puts money back into the pockets of working Americans. Accelerating already enacted tax cuts will encourage consumer spending by giving 91 million taxpayers an average $1,126 in tax relief this year, immediately injecting billions into the economy. This issue is just one more example of how our President is providing the courageous leadership America needs.


I encourage you not only to watch out for and refuse to publish these purposefully misrepresenting and plagiarized letters, but also to report on the use of this tactic by the Bush campaign. It's a matter of ethics: George W. Bush promised to restore honor and integrity to the White House. It is highly unfortunate that in pursuit of re-election, Mr. Bush is willing to forgo his integrity to engage in such a dishonorable tactic.

Would you be so kind as to get back in touch with me to let me know how your paper plans on dealing with Mr. Bush's campaign of plagiarism? Thank you.

Get the idea? While it's unfortunate (if not too surprising) that the Bush campaign is willing to sink to such a low level in order to make it look like the American people support him, we can fight such unethical behavior using the very system the Bush-Cheney campaign has erected.

Click here to find out how to WARN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR AREA about Bush's plagiarism IN SIX EASY STEPS.


The bad news is that the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush has initiated a campaign of Republican-sponsored plagiarism on a scale we've never seen before, backed by a program of unprecedented technological sophistication.

The good news is that we can use Bush's own technology to stop his unethical practice before it gains too much steam. But we have to act fast. As of September 17, 2003, here's what to do.

  1. Hold your nose and click here to visit George W. Bush's "Get Active" web page
  2. Where it says "Take Action Now", and to the left of the button that reads "Get Info", enter your zip code.
  3. You'll be taken to a new web page. Look for the link that reads "Show All Newspapers" (just to the right and slightly above the tab that says "Your Newspapers"), and click on it.
  4. You'll again be taken to a new page, one that shows a bunch of local newspapers and newsletters. Click on the box next to each and every one.
  5. Scroll down the page a bit and enter the appropriate information in the "Write your Newspaper Editors" section. I suggest that as a subject, you enter a phrase of warning. To be maximally effective in the "Letter" section, let the newsrooms know that plagiarized material is on the way from the Bush campaign and include the canned text (which is in the window to the right) so the editors of these papers know what to look out for. I've included the letter I wrote to newspapers in my area over to the left, but FOR PETE'S SAKE write your own letter -- nothing would be worse that astroturfing in an effort to stop astroturf.
  6. Enter your contact information, make sure "email letter" is selected, then click the "Send It!" button.

And that's it! Now you've done your part to shut the Bush Plagiarism Machine down and restore integrity to the journalistic enterprise in your neck of the woods. Doesn't that make you feel good?

If we can catch these messages early in the process, we won't have to see them in print. If everyone does their part, together we can stop George W. Bush's campaign of dirty tricks, and we can help return the Letters to the Editor sections of newspapers to everyday people who actually write something down themselves.

Let your friends know not just about the new low that George W. Bush has sunk to, but also about how to stop such unethical practices in their neck of the woods. If we work together, we can do it!

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