Honestly I feel sorry for Melania Trump. I watched her speech at the RNC and thought she did an impressive job. And now it turns out that some lines from that speech were almost certainly lifted from the 2008 convention speech by Michelle Obama.
Amazing. But how is it possible?
No one assumes that such a high-profile speech from a candidate’s spouse will be entirely written by the speaker. Especially if the speaker, as in Melania’s case, speaks English as a second language.
The Trump campaign acknowledges that Melania worked with a speech writer. So the obvious question is: How did Michelle Obama’s lines end up in Melania’s speech?
A friend of mine, poet John Poch, posted a theory on his Facebook wall. Although he was only half serious, I think he may be onto something: “I have a conspiracy theory, because craziness sometimes makes too much sense. One of Trump's speechwriters (a Democratic plant) plagiarized Michelle Obama on purpose. That person knew the speech would immediately be recognized . . . by everyone except the Trump camp, who are so unaware of things like spellcheck or plagiarism tools like turnitin.com or even basic things like famous speeches by famous ladies. . . . I mean, it's too bad to be true, right? A lot of smeared mascara last night after she found out she'd been tricked. Whoever it is, wow. Just wow."
Sounds crazy, right? But actually not. Because again: How else would those lines have ended up where they did? Whoever fed them to Melania must have known where they came from, and no speech writer in the Trump campaign would have been dumb enough to expect them to go unnoticed.
I wouldn’t so much suspect a Democratic plant as an anti-Trump GOP insider being responsible. Who all was helping Melania on this speech?
As my friend John writes: “Can you imagine the middle of the night meeting with the speech writers? Can you hear the shouting and the overturning of furniture!? I can.”
Update: Well, the NYT has since put paid to our theory. Or rather, it seems that the conspirator may very well be . . . one Meredith McIver.
According to sources, Melania had a speech written for her by two former Bush speech writers, but didn't like it, so set to revising it, turning to McIver:
But Ms. Trump decided to revise it, and at one point she turned to a trusted hand: Meredith McIver, a New York City-based former ballet dancer and English major who has worked on some of Mr. Trump’s books, including “Think Like a Billionaire.” It was not clear how much of a hand Ms. McIver had in the final product, and she did not respond to an email on Tuesday.
Research for the speech, it seems, drew them to the previous convention speeches delivered by candidates’ spouses.
Ouch. Depressing all around. Michelle Obama's words likely ended up in Melania's speech via sheer bumbling. John's theory is much more interesting, no?
But one still wonders. Why did Melania's speech writer or writers, whoever they were, have Melania quote specifically Mrs. Obama? And why specifically on honesty? And why did these writers lead Melania to rickroll the RNC audience? Isn't there's something here that hints at more than just an embarrassing gaffe? Or is my conspiratorial side working over time?