Melania Trump goes full Jonah Lehrer, plagiarizes in her convention speech for husband Donald

Melania Trump, Donald’s wife, has kept a very low profile on the campaign trail, but she was more or less forced to give a speech at the Republican National Convention last night. It’s unthinkable that a future First Lady would remain a cipher to Americans until the election.

And so she spoke. Unfortunately, several sources report that she lifted an entire paragraph of her speech from—yes!—Michelle Obama. The “Daily Intelligencer” column of New York magazine reports the plagiarism from Michelle Obama’s convention speech for her husband.

Here’s the text from Trump’s speech:

My parents impressed on me the value of 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. Show the values and morals in in the daily life. That is the lesson that we continue to pass on to our son.

We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. [Cheering] Because we want our children in these nations to know that the only limit to your achievement is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And here’s Obama:

And 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 on to 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.

There’s no way that’s coincidence.  But I don’t think this can be pinned on Melania. Though she speaks five languages, English is not her native tongue, and her words were almost certainly concocted by speechwriters.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t look good—one more gaffe in the Trump campaign. Embarrassed, Trump’s campaign issued this statement at 2 a.m.:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 6.36.19 AM

“Fragments that reflected her own thinking?” What the hell does that mean? It means this: “Melania, in her beautiful speech, cribbed some bits from Michelle Obama’s speech that she thought sounded good.”

I read about this; I didn’t see it. Nothing short of waterboarding (a plank in Trump’s platform) would get me to watch that confederacy of dunces.

 

78 Comments

  1. E.A. Blair
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    In a post I wrote in March at Mad Mike’s America, I noted these points:

    If at first Donald Trump doesn’t succeed, he redefines success.
    If that still doesn’t work, he claims it was a success after all.
    If he still doesn’t succeed, he destroys all evidence that he tried.

    This is what is happening with Melania Trump’s speech.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, the last word in that statement stood out to me as well. Jedi mind trick.

      Also, is Miller subtly trying to shift blame by referring to the speech writers? And why call it “Melania’s beautiful speech” if you’re going to acknowledge that she didn’t write in in the very next phrase?

    • jeffery
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      …and, if he can’t destroy all evidence that he tried, he simply ignores it.

      This shows that he’s perfectly suited for the Teapublican/Jeebus party, as they’ve used these tactics for years:

      “I didn’t say that; you misunderstood me.”

      “What? you have video of me saying that? Well, my words were taken out of context, then.”

      “What? you have video of the context, and it doesn’t make any difference? Well, that wasn’t what I MEANT to say.”

      NEXT REPLY: Dead silence, or note from staff that “official is not going to comment any further on this old issue.”

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Something Donald Trump should realize is that the internet never misquotes him; it just repeats word for word all the things he shouldn’t have said.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          In fact, every politician should realize this.

      • Walt Jones
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        Don’t forget, “That was not meant to be a factual statement.”

        • Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          And, as far as we know, no animals were harmed in the preparation of these statements.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    If Melania’s speech was concocted then Obama’s speech was as well, which suggests there’s a stock speech that all these politicians agree is a canned speech.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      You can only phrase platitudes so many ways.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        ThyroidPlanet’s logic is flawed, there being no connection between the ‘if’ and ‘then’ clauses. And darwinwins elides the truth that the ‘so many ways’ of phrasing something constitute a rather significant number. What Obama’s speechwriter(s) wrote for her is hers; Trump deserved something distinctive from her cadre of confectioners and they failed her.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          “cadre of confectioners”

          An excellent turn of phrase! May I steal it?

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know what syllogism or formal algebra or whatever to put it in. but if the idea is that Mel’s writers copied from O’s writers, that at least suggests the weak/trivial case that neither are the authors, and also that the writers merely have their own little world where boiler-plate speeches are on a menu somewhere. It wouldn’t be plagarism in that case, but just how the business works. I don’t know if multiple authors are copied is called plagarism, but I assume so. Call the above scenario a conspiracy theory if you like, I’m not asserting it is true.

          however, if Obama is the genuine author of her speech – which I have no idea of – then the word would not be “concocted”, but “plagarized”.

          … as an aside, I got in trouble like this before, using one thumb to write stuff while being – let’s say – distracted. I could tell as soon as I hit the button. You might be able to tell that I got to a tangible keyboard for this little rebuttal, which I think is still like something I’d blurt out at the pub.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

            Remember – good poets plagiarize – bad poets steal. I can’t see Drumpf as a good poet.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

            Maybe there’s a Microsoft Word speechwriting wizard. I’ve heard that in the last twenty-five years (thanks to Word wizards & templates) that all resumes are the same.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      If Melania’s speech was concocted then Obama’s speech was as well…

      I am not following your logic here.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        yeah, I know – see up there^^^

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      The crux is that Melania’s speech seems stolen while Michelle’s wasn’t, or at least nobody has shown the opposite.
      I think that, if you are pressed to hold a speech and you are out of words in English, take some quotes from the Founding Fathers, with proper credit. In these hard times, who would demand anything more? Not the Trump supporters at any rate.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        “The crux is that Melania’s speech seems stolen while Michelle’s wasn’t, or at least nobody has shown the opposite.”

        that’s what I was getting at.

  3. darrelle
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    What I always wonder when something like this is revealed is are these people so stupid that they thought this wouldn’t be noticed or are they so cynical that they just don’t give a shit if it is? And the point being, in either case is this the team of people you want running your country? Apparently for about half of voters that answer is usually “yes.” That is what really gets me down.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      And even if they are that cynical, why would they choose to plagiarize from someone they all hate so much?

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        That’s the hilarious part of this!!! It made my day.

      • Isaac
        Posted July 20, 2016 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        Off-topic.

        Quick question. In which sense are you two using the word cynical? I only ask because I have seen people mistakenly use it in the sense in which I think you’re using it: something like ‘brazen’ or ‘shameless’.

        Is this just a very common mistake?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted July 20, 2016 at 1:55 am | Permalink

          If it’s very common, it’s not a mistake; it’s a legitimate secondary meaning.

          • Isaac
            Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            I take it then that you don’t think common mistakes in writing exist?

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted July 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

              Mistakes certainly exist in the sense that people sometimes inadvertently say something other than what they intended, or produce malformed sentences that violate the rules of their own idiolect.

              Word usage is a bit trickier. I’ll grant that if some individual simply misunderstands the consensus meaning of a word, and uses it in ways that nobody else understands, that can legitimately be counted as an error. But a secondary meaning used and understood by many people isn’t an error; it’s a valid alternative meaning.

              That is after all how words get their meanings in the first place: from actual usage in everyday speech.

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Judging from the context he gave it, I understood darrelle to mean something close to its usual definition: pessimistically assuming that even if the plagiarism is found out, Trump will suffer no losses because people won’t care, or, for extra cynicism, that people are to stupid to understand that they should care.

        • Posted July 20, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          *too stupid*

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Cheaters gonna cheat.

  5. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    one-time “straight-talker”, now trump poodle and no-chance veep chris christie via the today show:

    “Not when 93% of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech.”

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      LOL!

      Yea, there was no plagiarizing because there was only a little plagiarizing.

    • Robert Bray
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      This is a classic defense of plagiarism, entirely predictable when the culprit is found with his pants down.

      • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        When I was an academic, we used to tell students even one sentence is enough.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Unbelievable! They’ve even worked out a percentage!

      I watched the speech and I had to admit to myself she did a good job. Impressive even.

      Trump insists he hires the best people, but if he’s hired speechwriters that are so incompetent that they’ve plagiarised from from a speech given by the current first lady, that claim is gone.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      So on a hundred-question quiz, it wouldn’t be cheating if you steal only seven answers?

      I saw that interview with Christie on the tube. Looks like he’s lost a little weight. About 21 grams, I’d say — isn’t that supposed to be what a human soul weighs?

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I watched this reviewed on the CBS news this morning and it was almost funny if not sad. They would show Melania speaking a sentence, then Michelle speaking almost the exact same words in her 2008 speech. Sentence after sentence almost the same words, again and again. Then they brought forth some guy to say that the speech was nothing like Michelle’s.

    I don’t know why they do such a thing. Once it is especially obvious do you really need to bring someone on to lie about it? The idea that we, the news, are being fare and balanced because we deliver both sides of every event and every thing we report is just ridiculous. Just stand by what you put out and then shut up.

  7. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Like JAC, I will not be watching any of the circus; even had to turn off the morning news because every station was pounding the story into the ground. However, a fried pointed out something far more odious than Melania’s speech – the benediction for the evening. Rather than embedding here, if you want to be disgusted, google gop benediction, preferably before you have much to eat.

    • jimroberts
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Yuk!

    • Filippo
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      I’d kinda like to watch when the states cast their votes for candidates, specifically the prefatory speech given before the casting, where the speaker stumbles in the delivery, his/her mind too much on the next sentence s/he is going to say. I’d like to determine which speech is the most bloviating, navel-gazing, self-regarding and refulgent in it American Exceptionalism.

  8. Historian
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Melania’s plagiarism is emblematic of the entire Trump campaign: a fraud and a con.

    I highly recommend Jane Mayer’s article in the New Yorker that profiles Tony Schwartz. He was the ghostwriter for Trump’s “Art of the Deal.” He got to know Trump quite well, but is now repulsed by him. Schwartz views Trump as ignorant, a publicity seeker, hardly a great business man and, as we all know, incapable of telling the truth.

    Unfortunately, Trump’s supporters will not be dissuaded by facts. They remind me of creationists. It would not surprise to learn that most of his supporters are, indeed, creationists.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all?intcid=mod-most-popular

  9. Posted July 19, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    The same woman who supposedly wrote her “beautiful speech” also spoke the following:

    “I read once over it, that’s all, because I wrote it … with (as) little help as possible.”
    – Melania Trump

    Spoken like an ESL citizen which suggests to me that her written word would most likely have needed more than a “little help” if she writes like she speaks.

  10. Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Surely whoever wrote this bit of the speech knew that the plagiarism would be uncovered? Which, if so, suggests to me two possibilities:

    1) The writer is trying to sabotage Trump’s campaign, or

    2) The Trump campaign is simply trolling the American public to see how far they can push things before they are sent packing.

    No. 2 seems the more likely of two frankly unlikely scenarios, and so far absolutely nothing seems to have prevented Trump’s rise up the polls. Next, Trump and Melania to have a foursome with Putin and his ex.

    The whole campaign has a smell of The Producers about it.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      comment of the day via commenter @ talkingpointsmemo:

      “Sabotaging Trump’s campaign. Actually not sure how one would go about doing that in a noticeable way.”

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        If Donald Trump admitted to being a compulsive liar, who’d believe him?

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      By day three, I expect the attending luminaries will be doing high kicks & “Springtime for Hitler” to cheers and applause. (and the Trumps’ dismay)

    • Peter Austin
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      Well, if all the media outlets are all over it, pointing out the rather obvious – and disgraceful – plagiarism, and then the campaign’s Senior Communications Advisor calls the speech “a success” .. then yeah .. that implies intent (or extreme stupidity).

  11. Alpha Neil
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Donald Trump warned us that immigrants steal.

  12. Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Judge for yourselves….. a side-by-side comparison … not two but three sections that are suspect:
    http://www.people.com/article/melania-trump-michelle-obama-similar-convention-speeches

    I guess it would have been too much for Mrs. Trump to say, “To quote that great lady and role model, Michelle Obama…”!

  13. Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Just wondering, why is it not ok to use the words of Michele Obama, but entirely ok to use the words of one’s speech writer?

    • Peter Austin
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      The speech writer gets paid for it.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Paid or not, there’s a prior agreement between speechwriter and speaker on what the words will be used for. Plagiarism is the appropriation of words without prior agreement.

  14. bluemaas
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Upon checking Da Roolz one more time again, the parts on name – calling in particular, I believe I am not violating any by stating a belief long – taught to and – held by genuinely serious and respectful and honest people: in one’s works, plagiarism is a cancer not to be tolerated, let alone, spun, Ms Melanoma Trump.

    Blue

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      You are the first person (besides me) that I see referring to her as “Melanoma”. Well done. 😉

      • bluemaas
        Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, ya’ know Mr Muth, the h y p o c r i s y — “immigrants steal,” the Worldwide Woman – loathing — finally just got to me this morning. This … … this hypocrisy — &, no less, on the anniversary of Seneca Falls, y1848.

        And I can do squat about this thuggery — ‘cept perhaps reciprocate with m’own brand of mockery.

        Blue

        ps Plus as well, for just how l o o o o ng must the State of Iowa keep APOLOGIZING for the rhetoric, for the behavior of its Congressman King ?

        I mean: We the Sane here are freakin’ exhausted.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted July 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Actually, I don’t think we need to refer to him as Congressman King. Just White Supremacist will do just fine. Most of us will know who you are referring to.

  15. ascanius
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Melania has responded: “These accusations of plagiarism are not only hurtful to me, but they are hurtful to my children Sasha and Malia.”

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Think of the children! A lovely example of a coward caught cheating. Aw, mommy got caught.

    • Walt Jones
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I’ll be plagiarizing that! (Only because I don’t know where to send the royalties).

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      🙂

  16. Merilee
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Sub

  17. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Queen takes issue with Trump’s use of ‘We Are The Champions’

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      I wondered that as I watched it – what would Queen think of this?

    • Walt Jones
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      “Death on Two Legs” would have been more appropriate.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      This seems to happen every US election in recent memory – someone uses music from somewhere, where the artists wouldn’t have wanted the connection.

    • Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Also, Howard Kaylan (of the Turtles & Frank Zappa), for the use of “Happy Together”. Both Brian May and Howard Kaylan are lawyering up today.

      (Happy birthday, Brian May)

  18. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The denial is probably a bigger story than the plagiarism.

    Trump campaign foolishly denies plagiarism in Melania speech

  19. Posted July 19, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “confederacy of dunces”

    Well said. And I feel the same way.

    I was exhausted from working last night and wanted a reprieve, knew about the confederacy of dunces, and couldn’t muster the energy, not even to put myself to sleep. I don’t have a TV (a choice I made many years ago), but I could’ve watched bits online. I did see from Twitter than Melania had attempted to talk, but I couldn’t bear to watch that it either.

    I wonder what’s been going through the minds of Obama and Michelle? Can you imagine the side commentary they’d have on this election circus? They must lie in bed at night and roll their eyes.

  20. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I guess the bold part below is a fragment that does not reflect Melanie’s thinking, since she left it out:

    …you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      I swear I typed Melania.

  21. Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    It seems Hillary Clinton was the one actually behind the plagiarism.

    uh… says team Drumpf.

    This is a really good time to get into comedy. The opportunities are endless.

  22. Chukar
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago a friend noticed the similarity between U.S. presidential election speeches and ads and a book he was reading about war propaganda. We went over the book and came up with succinct statements of nine fundamental principles of propaganda. They may remind you of someone.

    1. BIG LIE – Always choose the big lie over the small; the masses will believe it more readily.

    2. FOCUS ­- Use only one or at most two selling points.

    3. REPEAT -­ Use them over and over until even your enemies know them by heart.

    4. BLAME – Never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame, never credit the other side.

    5. PROVOKE – First attract attention, then appeal to emotions.

    6. CRISIS – Issues must be life/death, good/evil, freedom/slavery, love/hate.

    7. EMOTIONAL SYMBOLS – Good slogans have no literal meaning, only a strong emotional appeal.

    8. PANDER – Ignore intellectuals and reasonable arguments; target the unthinking masses with powerful emotional pitches.

    9. NO LIMITS – Ignore all moral limits whenever you deem it useful.

    Compare #4 – “never waver, acknowledge no doubt, always blame, never credit the other side” to Jason Miller’s statement. Plus, as always, #1, the “Big Lie.”

    This list could be a checklist for any of Trump’s statements, as with Boardroom Bingo. The principles were extracted from Chap. 6, “War Propaganda,” of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

    • Posted July 20, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget that the experience of Nazism got people thinking of propaganda as a bad thing. What it become? Public relations.

  23. Posted July 19, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The whole story reminds me of some of my worst students. They are young people who have too little knowledge of biology and the language they are taught in, but are determined to become doctors by cheating. They are like magicians! I look at them all the time, I can swear that they have not done anything unauthorized… and nevertheless, when they submit their works, I see that students with dismal overall records have explained the topics perfectly in long, flawless sentences. When I call the student to defend “his” work by explaining what he has just written, the young scoundrel asks me to give him back the sheets so he can read from them.

  24. cherrybombsim
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    If I ever DO plagiarize in my own writing, I sure hope I can find something better than a vapid platitude to copy.

  25. Posted July 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, this is what happened:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/melania-trump-speechwriter-mistake-1.3687286

  26. Merilee
    Posted July 21, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    And then there’s Tom Lehrer!


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