If anyone needed a reason to oppose Donald Trump's presidential ambitions, the debacle of his wife's plagiarized speech at the Republican Convention last night sure offers up a good one.
It's obvious to anyone with half a brain -- which apparently doesn't include Donald Trump -- that Melania Trump borrowed from Michele Obama's 2008 speech at the Democratic Convention where her husband won his first presidential nomination.
The New York Times has a clear comparison of the Trump and Obama speeches in "Questions Over Melania Trump's Speech Set Off Finger-Pointing." Here's the more extensive example of plagiarism. (click to enlarge)
The chance that Melania Trump independently came up with the same ideas, the same words, and the same order of expressing them as Michelle Obama did is so close to zero, let's just round things off and say... zero.
Supporting the near-certainty that significant portions of Trump's speech were copied almost verbatim from Obama's speech is a follow-up New York Times story: "How Melania Trump's Speech Veered Off Course and Caused an Uproar." The story is based on interviews "with more than a dozen people involved in and close to the Trump campaign."
The Trump campaign turned to two high-powered speechwriters, who had helped write signature political oratory like George W. Bush’s speech to the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, to introduce Ms. Trump, a Slovenian-born former model, to the nation on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.
It did not go as planned, and it has eclipsed much of the action at the party gathering in Cleveland, where delegates on Tuesday night formally nominated Mr. Trump for president.
The speechwriters, Matthew Scully and John McConnell, sent Ms. Trump a draft last month, eager for her approval.
Weeks went by. They heard nothing.
Inside Trump Tower, it turned out, Ms. Trump had decided she was uncomfortable with the text, and began tearing it apart, leaving a small fraction of the original.
...The two original speechwriters were not aware of how significantly the speech had been changed until they saw Ms. Trump deliver it on television Monday night, along with the rest of the country.
In the prime-time address, Ms. Trump unfurled a sequence of life lessons — about how “your word is your bond,” about “your dreams and your willingness to work for them,” and the “integrity, passion and intelligence” of her parents — in the same sequence and using much of the same language that Mrs. Obama employed in 2008.
So Melania Trump, likely with the aid of her staff, used Michelle Obama's words without attribution. That's plagiarism, a cardinal sin in speechwriting.
In interviews, alarmed Republican speechwriters outlined the layers of formal scrutiny, apparently disregarded by the Trump campaign, traditionally applied to almost every draft of a major convention address. They described word-by-word fact-checking by a dedicated team of experts and computer software designed to catch plagiarism. Several online programs, like DupliChecker, are available at no cost.
“It’s pretty standard,” Mr. Stevens said of the software, which detects overlap in word choice and sentence structure. “We used it.”
An urgent priority: avoiding the slightest hint of oratorical theft.
“The most cardinal rule of any speech-writing operation is that you cannot plagiarize,” said Mr. Latimer, the Bush speechwriter, who is now a partner at Javelin, a communications firm. If you do, he said, “you lose your job.”
Now, the smart and honest thing for the Trump campaign to do would have been to acknowledge the plagiarism, explaining how and why it happened.
For example, perhaps Melania Trump wasn't aware that using part of someone else's speech in your own speech is a major no-no in this country. As a youth she was focused on modeling, not English literature.
I would have found it charming if Ms. Trump had told the public, "I loved what Michelle Obama said. I'm sorry that I copied her words, rather than expressing her view in my own language. I'm new to speechwriting. I won't make this mistake again.
Instead, though, the Trump campaign has dismissed the uproar over Melania Trump's plagiarism, denying it even happened.
The Trump campaign on Tuesday dismissed criticism that Melania Trump directly lifted two passages nearly word-for-word from the speech that first lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention, calling the complaints "just absurd."
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort insisted no mistakes had been made with the speech and said the issue was "totally blown out of proportion."
Unfortunately, there have been so many wow's coming from the Trump campaign, the American public is getting used to them. This doesn't make them acceptable.
A presidential candidate needs to demonstrate that he or she is in touch with reality. Sure, they will have their own unique viewpoint on things, but it is vitally important that their understanding of the basic nature of those "things" be factually correct.
It's really bothersome that Trump plays so fast and loose with facts. This shows that he would be a terrible president, since the leader of the United States has to be in command of what is actually happening in the world -- not what he or she wants to have happen, or hopes to have happen.
Here's the PolitiFact summary of their Donald Trump fact-checks. A freaking 75% are mostly false, false, and Pants On Fire false. Yes, 75% are false.
By contrast, here's Hillary Clinton's fact-checks. Only 27% are mostly false, false, and Pants of Fire false. That's still too many, but it is almost a mirror image of Trump's truth-telling. I'd much rather have a president who is speaking truthfully 3/4 of the time, than a president who is speaking falsely 3/4 of the time.
Melania Trump's plagiarism, and how the Trump campaign has handled it, is just another indication that Donald Trump is totally unqualified to be president of the United States.
There was 14 minutes more. Stop cherry picking. Those are all core values that anyone blabs about when running for a dream.
Posted by: JT | July 20, 2016 at 01:53 AM
I am no fan of Trump but attacking this woman, for using part of one paragraph out of Michelle's speech, which Michelle likely got from her husband who was inspired by a Saul Alinsky book, is beyond sensible. Part of one paragraph and she's a thief and liar. The attitude of the far left to this whole thing could almost turn the middle for Trump-- just think about that. Trump's wife did the best she could, is not a public speaker, and has been castigated the whole season by those using her modeling day shots to prove she's unfit to be a first lady. The left should be ashamed of itself but even more importantly, they could turn sympathy toward Trump.
I will be SO glad when this election season is over as it seems to me, as that person in the middle, that the people have gone insane and lost all touch of what really matters-- like the issues! Frankly if people want to condemn her for marrying and loving Trump, they might consider that could be used against their candidate this time!!!! grrrrrrr
Posted by: Rain Trueax | July 20, 2016 at 08:53 AM
Melania Trump, inadvertently or not, may have used a couple of sentences from Ms. Obama's speech which expressed values most of us can agree with.
Hillary Clinton, in FBI Director Comey's own words, was "extremely careless" in her handling of government classified and top secret emails on her private home server.
Hillary's actions are far more serious, don't you think?
And you trust her to be president?
Posted by: N. H. Foles | July 20, 2016 at 10:42 AM
Apology from Trump speechwriter:
Posted by: N. H. Foles | July 20, 2016 at 10:49 AM
The focus on her plagiarism is really silly in my opinion. The RNC has been filled with racism, imperialism and white supremacy but the overarching focus has been on a couple of lines from one speech filled with boring recycled platitudes. Why is that? Because it’s easy. It takes no effort to rail against plagiarism while it makes most liberals uncomfortable to talk about white supremacy and imperialism. If we spend too long on that subject we may see the overlap between Trump and Clinton and to a slightly lesser extent, Sanders.
And this is directed to Rain, the far-left has roundly ridiculed the hyperfocus on the plagiarism issue. Liberals have been eating this up as Brian’s post shows us. Also, no one who says they were pushed to vote for Trump because of this fiasco was actually considering Clinton, let’s be honest.
Posted by: Micah | July 20, 2016 at 03:14 PM
No, Micah, it'd be those who are still furious at Hillary over a lot of things, see her as a warmonger, on the side of Hedge Funds, arrogant, ego driven(hence when she was warned not to use her own server, she ignored it), secretive, and out for the buck to enrich her family, that's who. They'd do it when they saw both of them as bad. Real fans of Hillary (they must exist) would never vote for Trump. But when the media is so oriented to attacking Trump, distorting anything he says, it makes people who aren't far left mad. The middle is where elections are won or lost and that's where this is playing poorly. The far left already are on Hillary's side. A lot of lefties have been considering writing in Bernie or voting Green and they need to believe Hillary would not hurt their pet causes. No, it wont be me voting for him. I'll have to vote for her to keep him out-- but this thing of attacking his wife sure doesn't make me like those who think that was fair when they've overlooked worse examples of plagiarism-- and seriously, who thought she was going to be running the country. That'll be Pence... It's laugh or cry these days.
Posted by: Rain Trueax | July 21, 2016 at 06:58 AM