The Audacity of Melania Trump (UPDATED)
Update: And now this:
Original post: A word, or two, as a former speechwriter about the Melania Trumpâ€™s speechwriters plagiarising Michelle Obamaâ€™s speechwriters. I can only echo Democratic Party operative Steve Schale:
I’ve written a fair number of speeches in my career. Anyone worth their salt who has written understands the intentional nature of speechwriting — particularly a speech designed to be delivered to a major audience. Every word, every pause, and every transition is considered. You play it out in your head — you have the principal practice it. Nothing is unintentional. Nothing. Ever.
Which makes for either mind-boggling carelessness or some interesting conspiracy theories.
Is it a big deal? Not in a greater scheme of things. When you feel like the whole world is spinning out of control and both major parties are nominating their worst candidates in living memory, lifting a paragraph from somebody elseâ€™s speech is the least of our problems.
Doesnâ€™t everyone else do it? Sure, Obama plagiarised Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Joe Biden plagiarised former UK Labour leader Neil Kinnock, and so on. It still doesnâ€™t make it any less silly, double standards or not. Itâ€™s an own goal and an unnecessary distraction.
Listen, I know that there can be enormous pressures placed on speechwriters, in terms of quality and quantity of output as well as deadlines, but thatâ€™s what you get paid big bucks for (I hope). There are no shortcuts, particularly in the era of the Internet; you will get found out and you will get found out fast if you do something stupid like copying someone else. It has been a foregone conclusion that Trump would be the nominee for quite some time now, and so it was certain that his wife would be speaking at the Convention. Whoever was preparing her remarks had a lot of time to do it, or at least they should have had in a well-organised and managed campaign, which Trumpâ€™s arguably isnâ€™t.
Certain ideas, concepts and sentiments are quite common, particularly in politics. But itâ€™s not an excuse for an almost word-for-word copying.
This is what Michelle Obama said at the 2008 Democrat Convention:
And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.
And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children â€” and all children in this nation â€” to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
And this is what Melania Trump said yesterday:
From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect.
They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
Itâ€™s all a boilerplate, but if you like that sort of a thing, you simply do what any decent speechwriter would do: paraphrase:
From a young age, my parents impressed on me certain simple values: you work hard, you keep your word and you respect others.
They taught me these values by living them every single day. Now, in turn, I hope Iâ€™m teaching them to my children through the example of my life, and I hope they will do the same. Indeed, I hope we all will, because our children need to believe that nothing is impossible if they dream big and work hard.
See what I did there? Similar but different enough – and the possibilities are almost endless. Problem solved and we could have fully focused back again on how horrible the politics is at the moment.