CLEVELAND - I never would have imagined that Melania Trump would write her own speech to deliver at the Republican National Convention Monday night. She is not a speechwriter, and it is a primetime pressure spot. Some of the smartest and most literate politicians in history have used speech writers. So, it stands to reason that she wouldn’t wing it on her own either.
So I have to laugh that, knowing she probably wouldn’t use her own words because her own words are unintelligible to us in her four best languages (Slovenian, French, Serbian and German) and are mostly probably not consistently focused on “10 Things I love About Donald,” people are now in a kerfuffle because she may have uttered someone else’s. But the wrong someone else’s.
At the New York GOP delegation’s breakfast Tuesday, attendees were treating the accusations that Melania Trump’s speech significantly mirrored parts of a speech by Michelle Obama about her husband as a curiosity. No one seemed angry at Melania Trump, or Donald Trump’s camp, which was not unexpected.
Maybe the broader question is this: Is it really plagiarism when someone who does not participate in the public life of the mind uses someone else’s words? Particularly when that person isn’t actually expected to write their own words, anyway? Have you ever heard a speaker give attribution to their speechwriter, even when that speaker is a public figure?
Plagiarism is mostly a professional accusation. It means, when writers or thinkers or politicians do it, that they’re dishonest or lazy or unoriginal. But Melania Trump? The campaign is wrong to deny what seems to pretty obviously true.
They’d be better off to say, “Yeah, so that happened. Nice words, but kind of a screw-up.”