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.