The left was having a rough go of it during the first night of the Republican convention, when they stumbled on their saving grace. Melania Trump, Donald’s wife, had given a warmly received speech that highlighted her grace and charm, and the values she shares with her husband. But around midnight, social media began to erupt with comparisons to Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008.
It was a night where Hillary Clinton was blasted for lying to family members of those killed in Benghazi. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called the mother of one of those victims a liar. It was a night where the black sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, David Clarke, called out the left for its anti-police rhetoric and the consequences it is reaping. There were references to Hillary’s shameful and illegal handling of classified material, including Top Secret and even more secret Special Access Program materials. Critics were calling day one of the convention a poorly organized event, since Melania’s speech turned out not to be the climax of the evening, but a prelude to several other effective national security speeches that rambled on, and were delivered before a dwindling crowd.
As the evening proceeded, irony and hypocrisy filled the media section of the convention center. The hour from midnight to 1 a.m. saw both MSNBC and CNN go wall to wall with shock, outrage, and pretend-sympathy for Melania. The evidence was definitive, proclaimed Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews, along with MSNBC’s Republican voices Steve Schmidt and Michael Steele. Guilty as charged, trial to be held later. From the tone of the discussion, this was worse than Watergate, and was going to be the ultimate test of how Trump would react to a crisis. Would he fire the speechwriter? Or would the speechwriter, as Matthews advised, fall on his or her sword and immediately resign to save the campaign?
At first glance it is hard to conclude anything other than that parts of the speech were ripped from Michelle’s speech. And, if so, someone should be thrown overboard. But the statements in question, found in just two paragraphs of the speech, were largely platitudes that could be found in many speeches: “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,” said Melania. But again, the order and exact use of certain words look bad for whoever tried to pull this off. Matthews suggested that it was so blatant that it might have been purposeful sabotage. Who knows?
The campaign struggled to come up with a reply, and when they did, shortly after 2 a.m. ET, it said the following:
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love…for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
Senior Communications Advisor
But as is usually the case, there was more to this story. First, Melania is not the candidate. Does it make the campaign organization look bad? Sure. But now look at Barack Obama, when he was running for president, stealing parts of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s speech, as the Drudge Report was quick to remind us.
What sort of outrage did that generate when it was exposed?
Then there is the fact that MSNBC was being anchored at the time by Brian Williams, who looked like a deer in the headlights, as the rest of the panel were talking about dishonesty and deception, and wondered how the Trump campaign could possibly keep this speechwriter on the team? How could MSNBC and NBC keep Brian Williams on their team after the dozens of lies he told his audience over a period of years, to make himself seem more important and bolder than he actually was.
And what about Hillary’s series of lies? From the innocent, stupid lies such as her claim that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Mt. Everest and gained worldwide recognition several years after she was born; to her lie about ducking sniper fire on a runway in Bosnia, a lie that even MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell helped expose since she had been there with her.
All MSNBC was lacking was Mike Barnicle, a regular on their Morning Joe show, another liberal who was caught repeatedly plagiarizing and making stuff up, but still has a career on MSNBC.
And what about the bigger picture? How does this compare to Hillary Clinton’s lies to the family members of the dead in Benghazi? How does this compare to the series of lies Hillary told to Congress and the public about her handling of classified material on her unsecured server?
Paul Manafort, Trump campaign chair, insisted on CNN that “These were common words and values. She cares about her family…To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.” It’s certainly not likely that Melania did it herself.
Tiffany Gabbay, writing for Truth Revolt, showed how it could be argued that Michelle Obama actually plagiarized her 2008 remarks, citing a couple of examples.
“Working hard, treating people with dignity and respect, and keeping your promises—or knowing that ‘your word is your bond’—are not groundbreaking concepts conjured up by Michelle Obama in 2008,” writes Gabbay. “Nor were they on Monday evening when Melania Trump made these same statements.”
Former President George W. Bush’s speechwriter Marc Thiessen has detailed how, in a speech in which he made the case for military action in Syria, President Obama plagiarized Bush’s case for going to war in Iraq. And Joel Pollak of Breitbart has documented much more substantive examples of plagiarism by President Obama, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. This issue may prove to be a can of worms the left would prefer to have left dormant. But for Monday night, it served to obscure the important messages coming from the podium.
Steve Schmidt, talking about this latest kerfuffle, said that Barack Obama was the best writer of any president since Abraham Lincoln. Is he not aware that Obama didn’t even write his own autobiography? Dreams from My Father was written primarily by the unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers, who was a founder of the communist Weather Underground, as is well documented in Jack Cashill’s great book, Deconstructing Obama. The evidence in this case is overwhelming, though the media ignored the book so as not to have to deal with this messy issue.
Or how about Obama’s lies on everything from Obamacare to the economy to the so-called Iran nuclear deal?
The hounds of the liberal media have found a vulnerability they believe they can ride for days because it overshadows the devastating critique of the Obama/Clinton record coming from the speakers at the GOP convention. Only time will tell how this will play out.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected].