Why Doesn't Plagiarism Matter?

I remember the Biden law school incident. Not long after that, during the Clarence Thomas hearings, I remember reading that law school students were secretly photocopying homework assignments submitted by their arch enemies, in the hopes of one day using that information to torpedo a big political appointment.

By choosing Joe Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama has insulted
academics — students and teachers alike — a constituency that was
significant in bringing him the nomination of his party. Especially in
a year that has seen two prominent political careers hamstrung by sex
scandals, and in an era where choosing vice presidential candidates
seems to be foremost an exercise in avoiding skeletons in the closet,
it’s surprising that Biden’s record of plagiarism did not disqualify
him from Obama’s consideration.

Joe Biden, you will remember, ran for president in 1988. He
delivered a speech that presented the thoughts of British Labour Party
Leader Neil Kinnock is if they were his own, and was slow to explain or
apologize for this transgression. The ensuing scrutiny
of Biden’s record revealed that he had also plagiarized in law school,
failing a course for doing so. Shortly after these revelations, he
dropped out of the race. — Jonathan Beecher Field