I didn’t watch the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and I don’t plan on watching any other nights either. I did hear something about Melania Trump, Donald’s mail order bride engaging in an absurd act of plagiarism and from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention, no less.
The audacity of such dopiness deserves breaking my blog silence. For those wanting the relevant passages to compare, read ’em and draw your own conclusions:
Mrs. Trump, Monday night:
“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Mrs. Obama, in her 2008 speech:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them onto the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hardworking mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”
Mrs. Obama in 2008:
“And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”
What say you, gentle readers? Is Mrs. Trump an innocent conveyor of words coincidentally complied as a previous presidential aspirant’s spouse once did or is she guilty as hell of deliberately and purposefully ripping off Michelle Obama?
Set aside the sadistic schadenfreude of Melania Trump’s face-plant before a national audience, it can be reasonably argued her shitty speech was no better or worse than all the other shitty speeches I ignored in Day #1 of the Republican National We Hate Barry and Hillary Convention. However, not being important is not the same as not mattering.
When your best argument against the other candidate is they are dishonest and crooked and gets away with lying and then you lift entire sections from a speech made in public eight years ago, that goes past arrogance and headlong into stupid. Every word Melania Trump uttered was going to be recorded, fact-checked and stress tested. How long did campaign manager Paul Manifort think it would take before somebody stirred in their chair and said, “Say…that sure sounds familiar…?”
For nobody on Team Trump to have caught this isn’t incompetence. It’s knowing their base won’t give a fuck.
This is how the Trump “campaign” does it. They lie and they lie loud and long and when they’re caught in the lie, they deny they lied in the first place, but if they did, it’s Clinton’s fault! Only groupies. blind partisans, and idiots let Trump get away with this shit and don’t believe the truth matters when they’re being lied to right in their face. David Frum lists ten reasons why Melania’s howler feeds into the narrative that the Trump “campaign” is like Indiana Jones making it up as they go along.
1) Melania Trump’s speech was the first and best opportunity to humanize Donald Trump. That opportunity was not only wasted, but the whole project of humanizing Trump has become a farce that will haunt the later attempts by Trump’s children to undo Monday night’s debacle.
3) Since Sunday, every journalist at this convention has been collecting examples of the Trump campaign’s failures and incompetence: the quarrel with Ohio Governor John Kasich, the absent senators and governors, the no-show donors, the convention’s financial embarrassments, the floor fight over rules, the lack of a proper schedule, and the defective apps and other technology. Suddenly, there is one easy-to-understand incident that encapsulates in one grim joke all this convention’s cavalcade of derp.
5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.
9) Plagiarism draws attention to content of the passage plagiarized. In 2008, Michelle Obama summed up the values that she had learned from her parents and that she and Barack Obama now tried to instill in their children: work hard; tell the truth; keep your promises; treat others with dignity and respect. Donald Trump epically does not tell the truth, does not keep his promises, and does not treat others with dignity and respect. A plagiarized speech (and the failure to detect the plagiarism) pretty strongly confirms that the Trumps do not much care about hard work, either. “Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.”
Plagiarism MATTERS. Or at least it should, unless we accept when we’re talking Trump, the rules do not apply. I do not accept. The first night of the Republican convention is a bit early for a Clint Eastwood’s Chair moment but whoomp there it is.