Given the perfidy and bigotry of the Republican party, and the odious candidate they’ve chosen in Donald Trump, I’m not overly concerned about his wife’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech. Yes, it was wrong, yes, they should have fired whoever wrote that speech, and yes, they all deserved opprobrium. (Imagine the rancor the Republicans would have displayed had Bill Clinton done the same thing in support of his wife Hillary!) What makes it really bad is that the party and Trump’s flacks are refusing to admit it’s plagiarism. But any thinking person—and yes, even some Trump supporters are sentient—won’t buy that. Have a listen to the blatant cribbing:
What to do? Admit that it was a cribbing by the speechwriter, suggest that it was inadvertent, and apologize. But the GOP won’t do that, and their excuses are simply silly. They’re not even credible enough to fool the average Trump supporter:
“To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd,” Manafort said.
Manafort said the words Melania used were not “cribbed” but are common words.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values. She cares about her family,” Manafort said. “To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”
It gets worse:
Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief strategist, invoked “My Little Pony” in defending the speech in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“Melania Trump said, ‘the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.’ Twilight Sparkle from ‘My Little Pony’ said, ‘This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now,’ ” Spicer said.
He also compared passages of Trump’s speech with phrases from musicians John Legend and Kid Rock.
“I mean if we want to take a bunch of phrases and run them through a Google and say, ‘Hey, who else has said them,’ I can do that in five minutes,” Spicer said. “And that’s what this is.”
Unfortunately, the cribbing was far more extensive than just “This is your dream. . .” etc. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the plagiarism from CNN:
If a student gave me an essay with this kind of unattributed cribbing, I’d fail him. Even Jonah Lehrer was fired by the New Yorker for cribbing less extensive than this. But even Republicans are not that dumb, and the excuses offered by the party—that this was common usage and not plagiarism—isn’t fooling anyone. Trump had a chance to win (which would have depressed me no end, besides ruining the country), but over and over again his campaign has damaged itself. It’s the Death from a Thousand Cuts. And now the GOP may have done themselves fatal damage by telling the public that they think we’re is credulous and stupid.
It reminds me of Hillary’s email kerfuffle. It wasn’t so bad that she used a private server to host official and sometimes sensitive government emails. That might have been inadvertent. But her lying about it afterwards wasn’t. It’s always best to admit the truth up front.