Wednesday, July 20, 2016

rightie responses to Melania Trump's fart in a church

Rightie sites are finally acknowledging what Twitter has been digesting all day: Melania Trump cribbed a portion of her speech from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama. Word for word, idea for idea, beat for beat—see the video embedded in my previous post—it's a shameless copy.

As I speculated in that previous post, Melania and The Donald probably won't suffer too much for this. I say that out of cynicism. Meanwhile, the reactions from the right have been interesting; a quick taxonomy would seem to show three types of response:

1. Minimization. This is nothing. In the grand scheme of things, we're talking about a few sentences in a much larger speech. Piffle!

2. "Others have done this." It's a bit of a fallacious deflection to state this (and I suppose I'm guilty of it in my previous post) because it doesn't make the wrong any less wrong. If a scientist plagiarizes work in a research paper, and people die as a result of his bogus research, he doesn't get to say that others have plagiarized before him. At best, he can truthfully claim to be no better than those others as he's led off to the guillotine.

3. "She did wrong, but yeah, she'll get away with it, anyway." This is probably the most honest reaction (although outright condemnation from elements on the right would, in my opinion, reveal a bit more spine and integrity), as it's blatantly true that her speech has cobbled material and that she'll likely escape serious consequences.

Disappointingly, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit opts for (2):

“PURLOINED PIFFLE:” I don’t have anything to say about the Melania Trump kerfuffle that I haven’t already said about Joe Biden’s plagiarism scandal that took place back when he was, you know, actually a candidate.

The Drudge Report also links to an article that notes that everyone is guilty of plagiarism—Joe Biden, Michelle Obama (the speech Melania cribbed from itself contained cribbed elements), and Barack Obama. All very amusing, but none of it absolves Melania, who I still think should have known better and should apologize.

The article also says the Trump campaign is doubling down and denying that Melania borrowed anything from Michelle Obama. Stupid, and obviously bullshit, but not surprising. If you're going to be shameless, go all the way, right?

Must be nice to live a consequence-free life. (Same goes for Hillary, of course.)

ADDENDUM: Steve Schale points out that Melania, whose mastery of English is shaky at best, probably didn't write her own speech, and there's a chance that whoever did put her speech together may not have had the most benign intentions.

Whoever wrote Melania Trump's speech knew what they were doing - they were sabotaging the moment. They wrote a speech that they knew cribbed not only from Michelle Obama, but also from Rick Astley -- the latter of which is the dead giveaway. And honestly, if they didn't do it as intentional sabotage, then the Trump campaign is a bigger goat show than we all thought.

I suspect the speech shibacle had one of two goals: Either, the campaign itself wanted to marginalize her following reports that she was unhappy with the way the VP selection went -- or, some disgruntled speechwriter/comms staffer is just over the campaign and wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. To believe the third option, that this was just an accident, would be to believe that the Trump campaign is being run with the competence of a dysfunctional city council campaign -- and one completely unprepared to run a national government.

Very few things in campaigns are secrets, so I suspect we will learn what happened in the next 24 hours. And no, I don't think the moment will have a single impact on the actual campaign. However, it does provide just another insight into just how bad the Trump campaign is at this politics thing.

And that, friends, is what makes this relevant to The Donald himself. If his speech-vetting process is this sloppy (didn't notice the cribbing?) and has this many holes, what makes him better for national security than Madame Makeshift Server?


King Baeksu said...

Let's see, a Kansas City cop killed in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday evening and nary a mention (along with three more in Baton Rouge on Sunday), yet the Melania Turmp "tempest in a teapot" gets not one but two posts? Seriously?

Here is my gut take on this silly faux kerfuffle: Melania Trump probably watched YouTube videos of past convention speeches by spouses of nominees for inspiration and preparation, before finally setting pen to paper herself. Those common-sense phrases of Michelle Obama's may have lingered in her memory, as they are indeed rather generic folk bromides or "words of wisdom," and been unconsciously regurgitated during the process of composition.

I also think certain phrases were acts of signaling to other individuals and groups: For example, "your word is your bond" make have been directed at primary opponents like Jeb Bush and John Kasich who signed a pledge to support the eventual winner, yet have chosen to skip the GOP Convention. And "you work hard for what you want in life" was probably aimed at certain groups whom the GOP may feel are overly reliant on the dole, and unwilling to roll up their own sleeves.

We should also remember that English is not her first language, so listening to other speeches was probably just part of vocabulary building, and getting a feel for the contours of political speech-making in America. I for one do not think that parents in communist countries lectured their children on the importance of a strong work ethic, but I do feel that Melania Trump embraced the notion as an all-American value that could easily be slotted into her speech and recognized by her listeners as basic common sense.

In any case, if you are going to mention right reactions, one of the most common memes in the comments section of is this portion of Michelle Obaba's 2008 speech: "...for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback." The implication is that she was putting down America as a country to be ashamed of, prior to the nomination of her husband. In contrast, Melania Trump's speech was unabashedly patriotic, so regardless of any flaws or imperfections, her speech still wins by comparison.

Finally, there is this:

As I said before, it's hard to copyright cliches and folk wisdom, as I'm sure even you would agree.

Kevin Kim said...


Let's see, a Kansas City cop killed in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday evening and nary a mention (along with three more in Baton Rouge on Sunday), yet the Melania Turmp "tempest in a teapot" gets not one but two posts? Seriously?

If you want to keep commenting here, please keep the tone civil and respectful.

As for two posts on the same topic: I'm entitled to follow up. As for not writing about the recent cop shootings: (1) as you've seen if you've read my blog for a while, I write about whatever strikes my fancy, and no outsider influences that; (2) if I'm guilty of not writing about this most recent tragedy, I'm guilty of not writing about a host of significant tragedies. I don't write about every cop killing that comes my way. I also don't write about every building collapse, every robbery, every riot, every plane crash, every flood in Bangladesh, or every dip in the stock market. You're free to read or not read the blog, but you'll settle for the content I provide if you choose to continue your patronage.

I hope that's clear.