The American people and some of the rest of the world met Melania Trump in Cleveland. We are getting a first glimpse of a potential first lady and, by extension, her spouse. And who did we see?
There is no denying that Ms. Trump’s speech took whole portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 self-introduction. It is normal for someone to consult previous speeches, and even for a phrase or two to stick.
But several paragraphs, verbatim, with unusual constructions like “Because we want our children…to know” and “the only limit to…your achievements is…your dreams…and your willingness to work for them”?
There is no way this is accidental recollection, inadvertent plagiarism.
What this is is sloppy, unforgivable theft. Ironic, though.
Beyond the evident plagiarism is the issue of how to respond to it.
Many have already noted the cost to Joe Biden of having admitted to plagiarism when he was running for president, and Barack Obama’s admission of having plagiarized from Deval Patrick. Many others, especially people who speak regularly, have plagiarism behind them. Even the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was found to have plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation at Boston University.
But here we have 1) denial of reality—easily confirmed reality, and 2) claims of having written the speech herself.
Most people who speak as politicians have speechwriters. There is no shame in that.
But there is shame in misrepresenting it.
I think we have learned much, already, from the character test of last night.
Would you trust this person to tell the truth, to watch out for the citizens of the country, to serve as a moral exemplar?
I didn’t think so.