4) To this point, the Hillary Clinton campaign has been unsure how to attack Donald Trump. There has been noticeable hesitation, uncertainty, and even mutually refuting contradictions in its early attacks. How can Trump both be a cynical con man and a dangerous extremist hate-monger? Now at last the script writes itself: Trump as doofus, the guy who went broke running a casino—and can’t even find someone to write an ordinarily competent speech for his wife’s big self-introduction to the American public.
5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.
6) The incident throws a harpoon into the heart of the Trump campaign’s racial politics. Trump’s message: Non-white people are ripping off hard-working white Americans who play by the rules. “They” cheat; “we" lose. Could there be a sharper reversal of that racialized complaint than Melania Trump in her designer dress stealing Michelle Obama’s heartfelt words?
7) Everybody will now want to know more about Melania Trump. As the outstanding profile by Julia Ioffe in GQ makes clear: It’s a story full of uncomfortable secrets. They won’t now stay secret long.
8) One role of a presidential candidate’s spouse is to function as the most sought-after surrogate, especially at fundraising events. A capable spouse effectively doubles the candidate’s own campaigning hours—more than doubles them, because she or he can relieve the candidate of speaking to party loyalists, whose votes are not in question, to free time for reaching swing voters and persuadables. Melania Trump has just been removed from that board, probably for good. Ivanka can substitute, perhaps, but that image then keeps alive the memory of the most disturbing of all Trump’s disturbing moments.
9) Plagiarism draws attention to content of the passage plagiarized. In 2008, Michelle Obama summed up the values that she had learned from her parents and that she and Barack Obama now tried to instill in their children: work hard; tell the truth; keep your promises; treat others with dignity and respect. Donald Trump epically does not tell the truth, does not keep his promises, and does not treat others with dignity and respect. A plagiarized speech (and the failure to detect the plagiarism) pretty strongly confirms that the Trumps do not much care about hard work, either. "Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.”
10) The mood of Republicans at this convention was already embattled, defensive, and pessimistic. Conventions are, among other things, important fundraising opportunities—and as Ken Vogel reports in Politico today, the state of Trump’s fundraising remains calamitous. Even Trump’s own named finance directors are not giving money. That mood of pessimism must be even grayer the day after Melania’s speech than the day before.