Ranking The GOP Defenses Of Melania Trump's Plagiarism Of Michelle Obama. | Gradient
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Ranking the GOP defenses of Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama Melania Trump

It was only Monday that Jarrett Hill noticed that sections of Melania Trump’s convention speech were lifted wholesale from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, but it feels like a whole new world. The air glitters. The sun radiates in strange waves. Clocks tick backward, and Team Trump is stuck trying to figure out a way to get around an incontrovertible truth: Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized. Roll the tape!

In a normal year, with a normal candidate, the fix here would not be difficult. Scapegoat a nameless speechwriter, say said speechwriter has been fired, apologize for the mishap and the story is over by noon the next day. But this is not a normal year, and Trump is not a normal candidate so, the Trump train is dealing with this mess every way but the most direct one (it’s been established that nobody will be fired), and this story will have legs until Christmas.

Some of the ways the Trump campaign has found to get around all this have been more successful than others. Let’s take a look at them.

5. It wasn’t plagiarized.

This is the Trump campaign’s go-to method of dodging a scandal: Deny the plain facts of the matter.

“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values. She cares about her family,” Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort said. “To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

4. Look at how much of it wasn’t plagiarized!

In the past, Chris Christie has drawn a pretty hard line against plagiarism. (“I don’t think they were teaching plagiarism at Harvard Business School,” he told then-Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke upon learning she had copied some of her campaign materials. “I don’t think they were teaching you to cut and paste other peoples’ work and call it your own.”) These days, he’s feeling significantly more lenient, pointing out, hey, not all of the speech was plagiarized. When Matt Lauer asked Christie on television: “You’re a former prosecutor, could you make the case for plagiarism?” Christie responded: “Nah. Not when 93 percent of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama’s speech.”

3. Things happen.

In an interview with MSNBC, Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis gingerly engaged the issue that, yes, it did look like some parts of the speech were plagiarized but, hey, that’s D.C., baby! “I’m sure what happened is the person who was helping write this plucked something in there and probably an unfortunate oversight and certainly Melania didn’t have anything to do with it,” Clovis said, either unaware or unwilling to get into the fact that Mrs. Trump had claimed responsibility for writing most of it.

2. My Little Pony did it.

The less we know about how RNC Chief Strategist Sean Spicer can quote Twilight Sparkle, the better, but here we go! In a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer in which Spicer appears to be staving off an impending heart attack, he rattles off several quotes from Melania Trump/Michelle Obama and then notes that similar sentiments were also expressed by John Legend, Kid Rock and, yes, a My Little Pony staple named Twilight Sparkle. So there.

1. This is Hillary Clinton’s fault.

In an entirely expected yet still astonishing to behold spectacle early Tuesday morning, Paul Manafort opened his mouth and used his words to express his belief that Melania Trump plagiarizing Michelle Obama was Hillary Clinton’s fault. “Once again, this is an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton she seeks to demean her and take her down,” Manafort somehow said on CNN without his head exploding into flames.

As of this writing, the Clinton campaign hasn’t said anything at all about the accusations of plagiarism or, indeed, about Melania Trump in general.

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