Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trump (Mrs.) channels her inner Obama (Mrs.)

I listened to Melania Trump's speech at the GOP Convention Monday night and thought it was a poised presentation written for her. I figured she hadn't written it because it was replete with the phrases of someone with an ear and feel for the touchstones of a political spouse.

I wasn't surprised when the pundits fell over themselves praising her afterwards. My father schooled me at a young age on the advantages accorded to pretty women. But the praise was so effusive that I had to check myself: had I been too dismissive because she was the wife of an obnoxious prevaricator? While I could certainly acknowledge that she had delivered the speech well, I was in full agreement with one (female) commentator who found her talk fell short because it failed to humanize her husband.  She talked about his love of country and his professional traits but totally failed to talk about him as a loving father and husband beyond the most perfunctory claims. She offered not one insightful vignette of the man at home, interacting with her or the kids. 

So imagine my surprise when it turns out that key parts of Melania's speech was apparently written by Michelle Obama in 2008! A large panel has been discussing this on CNN and even diehard Trump apologists including Jeffrey Lord acknowledge that Melania's speech was plagiarized. The pundits by and large are willing to give her a pass, blaming some unidentified speechwriter for the theft and overlooking her claims to have written much of the speech herself. 

Credit Van Jones for calling b.s., pointing out that Michelle Obama would be vilified if she were found to have plagiarized even if a speechwriter had been the offending party. And credit also Bokari Sellers for noting both the absence of personal anecdotes but also the fact that Melania's prime job was to be Character Reference # 1. That she either accepted the impersonal words of a speechwriter or pilfered them herself may indeed be strong commentary on the candidate's character.

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