|Sean Splicer (Actual Photo)|
"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:
- 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.
- 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.