Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Little Plagiarist: Day 2 of the RNC

Sean Splicer (Actual Photo)
Republican strategist Sean Spicer (pictured above) innovated the "My Little Pony" defense of Melania Trump's plagiarized speech. Basically?
"Melania Trump said, 'the strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them.' Twilight Sparkle from 'My Little Pony' said, 'This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dreams, you can do now,' " Spicer said.
The big news here is that the RNC is full of Bronies. Who knew? The point here is two-fold:

  1. Somehow Melania made it to the stage in front of 23 million people with a speech that plagiarized not just anyone--but a currently serving, particularly hated first lady.
  2. The Trump campaigns response has been miserable. From the circling of the wagons to the defense above (whatever you may think of the gravity of the charges, the response should not inspire a "What do you take me for??" reaction), to information that (somehow) Melania was responsible for all this herself (even if true, this should not be any part of messaging).
There have been molten-hot takes about how this gaffe should disqualify the campaign (no), about how it sheds light on some internal weakness (well, yes), and about how it's no big deal but the media is going nuts about it (kinda). The Omnivore thinks a couple of things:

It's A Real Problem

Melania Trump isn't even a nominee. She isn't running for anything--she's just the spouse of the Republican nominee and this is likely the first public speech of her life (and certainly with anything near this magnitude). So what if she plagiarized?

The 'so what' is that it has given the media something legitimate to talk about for a 24 hour news cycle (it's still top-of page on The Omnivore's news aggregator) when there are all kinds of things the Trump campaign would rather the press be talking about (like Chris Christie's rousing "Lock-Her-Up" speech/chant). The opportunity cost here is probably significant: if the bounce from the GOP convention isn't up to par, this will likely be one reason why.

Secondly, and in the same vein, it mars what was otherwise a well delivered speech by a sympathetic potential first lady. She did a good job--she reasonably connected--again, there was an opportunity to do well and it was utterly squandered.

Finally, it raises big questions about the ability of the campaign itself. How did this slip through? Didn't someone vet the speeches (even if Melania wrote it?)? Why wasn't damage-control short, sweet, and on-topic? There aren't any good answers to these.

The Times reports that two speech writers were hired and provided a speech--but that it was either ignored or heavily edited by Melania herself and, possibly, a friend:

Quote above from Twitter (here). The question then is that even if Melania were 100% responsible for the content--and even if somehow it passed through all editorial--why is she taking the fall for this? While a scapegoat for her might seem cynical, surely it is better than the admission that she cribbed Ms. Obama?

The Rest of The Convention

The Omnivore thinks that the convention is both a display of everything wrong with the Trump campaign (emphasis on empty showmanship, lack of organization, divisiveness)--and a success. Nothing will pry Trump voters away from him. His brand is that of a bull in a china shop. So what if the convention runs over time? If pundits make fun of the campaign logo--or the speeches?

The GOP has been trained on a carnivorous diet of red meat and that is being served. Right now Trump's chances of winning are just around 25%--that's great--and if it doesn't get worse? Then it's a better strategy than going for a "statesmanship" pivot that it's probably too late for.

Of course if his polling collapses or he loses a convention bump and Clinton gets a big one? People will point to this as the turning point. So we'll see.


  1. The other big take-aways include: the lack of any substantive policy discussion or prescription to address the mountain of ills being identified; the weak speaker line up (Scott Baio?!) and disorganization of the agenda; and the nepotism in using the RNC as a launching pad for his kids future careers, in either politics or entertainment. Trump fancies himself a dynasty.

  2. When no one has a chance of winning, you have to try something outlandish so you can disavow it when it doesn't work.

  3. Also worth mentioning: the awful 60 Minutes interview of Trump and Pence, conducted by Lesley "no skillz 2 pay da billz" Stahl. To the extent that they even bother with hard-hitting journalism any more, they use Steve Kroft. When Lesley gets trotted out, you know you're getting a puff piece at best.

    That said: the interview appeared to demonstrate that Trump/Pence had taken a page from the Bush/Cheney playbook, at least as far as making it clear who the brains of the outfit truly was. Unfortunately, Pence's brain is evil AF, reminding me of nothing so much as a bible-thumping Vladimir Putin. And Trump has kept his bewildering streak alive - that is, his unblemished record of never delivering a direct answer to anything.

    I work with otherwise smart people who can't wait to cast a ballot for these losers. That's where the politics of divisiveness and hate have gotten us.

    That said, I think Ommie's right: the great majority of the electorate made up their minds months ago and the battle to come is for the 4%(?) or so of determined fence-sitters.

    I haven't been this disgusted since my tour of the Slurm™ factory.

    -- Ω