It’s been interesting to watch the fallout from Monday’s events at the Republican National Convention, and the consequences of Milania Trump’s clear plagiarizing of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.
Now, I’m with the group of people who believe that Milania isn’t personally at fault for that plagiarism. She may have written some of her convention speech, but much of it was clearly written by the professionals, who should have known better. It should be pointed out that:
- Milania plagiarized a speech by Michelle Obama instead of, for example, Nancy Reagan or Laura Bush. She could have plagiarized her own team, but chose to plagiarize the other team.
- 2008 isn’t that long ago, and Michelle Obama’s speech was very well received. If you want to plagiarize something, maybe it should be something more obscure.
The Republicans went into a full-throated defense of Milania, claiming that the Democrats were blowing this all out of proportion, and that no apology was necessary. Let’s look at their three main arguments:
1. Joe Biden plagiarized a Neil Kinnock’s speech during his 1988 Presidential Campaign.
The Republicans have pointed out that Joe Biden was accused of plagiarizing a speech previously made by Neil Kinnock, then the leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Which is true. But what they forget to mention is that this also sunk Biden’s 1988 campaign. That was the end of it.
2. Barack Obama plagiarized a paragraph from Deval Patrick during the 2008 Presidential Campaign
The Republicans have noted that Barack Obama was accused of having plagiarized a paragraph from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick during his 2008 Presidential Campaign. Which is also true. But there is one gigantic difference: it was done WITH PERMISSION. Deval Patrick is a close friend of Obama’s, and encouraged him to use the paragraph about how words matter. Now, that doesn’t excuse Obama completely, because he should have attributed it to his friend. But it’s completely different from stealing the playbook of your opposition.
3. Hillary Clinton is at Fault for Making this into a Big Deal
Paul Mannafort, Trump’s new campaign manager (since Corey Lewandowski was fired), claimed that it was Hillary’s fault that the media made this into a big deal and that this was “once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.” Which is a statement that is COMPLETELY WITHOUT FOUNDATION. It’s a narrative that the Republicans would like you to believe, but there’s no evidence for it.
- First of all, there is no evidence that it was the Clinton campaign who discovered the plagiarism. To date, I have not heard who noticed it first.
- Second, while the Clinton campaign surely rejoiced over this snafu, the media blew this one up by itself, without the need for any additional encouragement.
- Third, there is no evidence for the notion that Hillary has a “habit” of “taking down” other women that she is “threatened by.” This is an accusation without foundation that the Republicans just put out there like on a fishing line and hope people will bite.
One can only imagine if Chelsea Clinton were caught plagiarizing portions of a speech, what the Republicans would say about THAT. No big deal? Yeah, right.
 It also didn’t help that this incident brought to light another incident when was accused of having plagiarized 5 of 15 pages of a law review article in his first year at Syracuse University College of Law.