Melania Channels Michelle, Cont'd

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A handful of readers react to the monumental facepalm of the Trump campaign’s handling of Melania Trump’s speech last night. This reader rightly sympathizes with her:

It’s an embarrassing screw up; clearly the passages were lifted, and a half-assed attempt was made to vary them by changing a word or two. Sad thing is, Melania actually did a good job in the delivery. This didn’t have to happen.

It just offers more evidence that Trump can’t/won't hire competent people. He’s ultimately responsible here. With him as President, we’d probably be subject to these kind of embarrassments on a daily basis. Seems he either hires people who are in way over their head, or hires smart people and then refuses to listen to them. What kind of cabinet would he pick as President? It really doesn’t matter; he probably wouldn’t heed their advice anyway …

An interesting but implausible theory from another reader:

Michelle Obama did not write “her” speech. A team of paid political speechwriters did. THAT is Trump’s point with having his wife repeat those words.

It directly plays into his campaign’s narrative that Washington is broken and so too are the stem to stern politicians; matters not the party or even what their highly political wives say, since many political wives and family are just part 'n' parcel of the fragmented, opportunistic and phony process that includes engineered photo ops to sell gullible, voters a damaged bill of goods.

AND Trump, once again, got the insanely stupid media that passes for journalism to give him oodles of free press, while running around with their hair on fire. The man is consistent.

Update: After seeing this epic Rickroll from Melania, I think that reader may be on to something with his “Trump is just trolling the media” theory:

This next reader suggests that Trump has credit-hogging problems of his own:

I guess Melania figured that if Donald can take credit for his ghostwriter’s words [a link to Jane Mayer’s new piece that Fallows highlighted here], then she might as well lift a few lines from Michelle’s speeches:

Trump, facing a crowd that had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue, laid out his qualifications, saying, “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ” If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running. Schwartz dashed off a tweet: “Many thanks Donald Trump for suggesting I run for President, based on the fact that I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’”

As an aside, it hurt my brain when Jane Meyer refers to the ghostwriter as “Trump's Boswell,” since the underlying analogy implies that Trump is Dr Johnson. Blasphemy.

Update from another reader, Andy, who has little sympathy for Melania:

Melania Trump went out of her way a few hours before her speech to tell Matt Lauer that she’d had minimal assistance in writing the speech.

She wanted credit for it, and I think she should have it.

Last night the folks on MSNBC very quickly settled on the notion that this fiasco is the fault of everyone concerned except Melania Trump, who was clearly the victim. Bullshit.

If anything, I think it’s more likely that she herself lifted those lines from Michelle Obama’s speech than it being done by a professional speechwriter. She’s been a professional model since 17 and dropped out of college after her first year. I can believe that she didn’t appreciate the problem with what she’d done.

That still wouldn’t excuse the campaign for not catching and correcting this, but it would at least help explain how such a ridiculous thing happened.

A quick skim of the news this morning indicates that the Trump campaign is still in full denial mode—Christie is claiming that that 93 percent of the speech was not plagiarized—so this story is likely to stick around for a while. Fine by me.

Update from reader Daniel C., who sends along new reporting that seems to confirm that theory—that Melania is the one responsible:

I believe Josh Marshall has determined why nobody’s been fired [based on this reporting from The New York Times]. If true, I would hope to see some measured, gentle, and forgiving remarks from a former First Lady, Hillary, about how we are all allowed to make mistakes.

But that the lack of structure within the organization of the Republican party this year means those mistakes go unchecked and snowball into chaos. I suspect the hope with Melania’s convention speech was to bring her into the fold of spokespeople who could make media appearances and raise money, and I’ll be curious to see if this cyclone-in-the-convention-coverage has any effect on that plan.