Melania Trump, wife of imminent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and potential First Lady, faces accusations of plagiarism after several passages in her speech to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland appeared to echo lines from Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver.
Trump’s wife joins Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden as accused plagiarists. Even Michelle Obama was accused of plagiarizing part of her own 2008 DNC speech.
Barack Obama: “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.” As then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) surpassed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, largely on the strength of his oratory, Clinton said that Obama’s record was “just words.” Obama responded in a speech whose refrain was lifted from then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. The Obama campaign did not even bother to refute the claim. Instead, it circulated examples of lines that it said Clinton herself had borrowed from Obama. The left media defended Obama, saying that he had not committed plagiarism, but merely, at worst, “poor footnoting.”
Hillary Clinton: “No bank can be too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.” After the Obama campaign accused Clinton of stealing lines in 2008 — a claim supplemented by The New Republic, which accused her of stealing lines from then-Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) — she ought to have learned her lesson. But in 2016, she stole linesfrom Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who responded by telling NBC News’ Meet the Press, jokingly: “We’re looking into the copyright issues here.” Clinton was accused of lifting other lines, too — and Sanders supporters responded on Twitter with the wry hashtag: #StealtheBern.
Joe Biden: “My ancestors who worked in the coal mines…”. Biden was found to have borrowed heavily from the oratory — and the biography — of British Labour Party leader Neal Kinnock, without attribution. In addition, it was discovered he had committed plagiarism while in law school. The scandal helped bring down Biden’s presidential campaign in 1988 — though Biden’s angry outburst at a reporter — “I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect” — didn’t help, either.
Michelle Obama: “…the world as it should be.” In 2008, the aspiring First Lady was accused by bloggers of lifting lines for her DNC speech from Saul Alinsky. Alinsky wrote, in Rules for Radicals (emphasis added): “The standards of judgment must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be.” Michelle Obama said: “And Barack stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about ‘the world as it is‘ and ‘the world as it should be.'” (Perhaps Mr. Obama who left out the attribution.)
The Trump campaign denied it borrowed lines from Michelle Obama, including: “that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond…”.
Senior communications adviser Jason Miller said: “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Regardless, Mrs. Trump is in good company. She will spend days being likened to Michelle Obama.
Which was, perhaps, the point.