Posted by Curt on 19 July, 2016 at 1:15 pm. 45 comments already!



And so did Obama

Tiffany Gabbay:

Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Well, that goes for the content of most political speeches, too.

By now you may have seen the day’s leading headline — the one that posits Melania Trump’s speech Monday evening at the Republican National Convention was “plagiarized” from a speech made in August 2008 by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

To begin with, some of the most biased headlines lead one to believe that Mrs. Trump plagiarized her entire speech. This is false.

The truth, rather, is that two portions of Mrs. Trump’s speech are being called into question for their striking similarities to Mrs. Obama’s speech eight years prior.

The similarities came early on in Mrs. Trump’s speech and concern the values instilled in her by her parents as a young child growing up in Slovenia. Below are the two women’s speech excerpts for comparison:

Melania Trump — July, 2016: “From a young age, 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. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life.”

Michelle Obama — August, 2008: “And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, that you do what you say you’re going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.”

Here is the second portion in question:

Melania Trump — July, 2016: “We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow,” she said. “Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Michelle Obama —  August, 2008: “Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto the next generation, because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.”

The phrasing is very similar, and that is an unfortunate mistake made by Trump campaign speech writers — because the truth is, Michelle Obama’s 2008 remarks were hardly revelatory.

In performing a bit of research, I uncovered a quote from Will Steger’s 1989 book, Crossing Antarctica, which reads strikingly similar to Michelle Obama’s:

“As I learned anew in crossing Antarctica, the only limit to achievement is the limit you place on your own dreams.

Let’s read that Steger quote again: “As I learned anew in crossing Antarctica, the only limit to achievement is the limit you place on your own dreams.”
Well, if Melania Trump is to be accused of plagiarism, then so, too, should Michelle Obama.

As stand-alone phrases — “work hard”; “treat people with respect”; “keep your promises” — these are really very generic. But in researching them as a combined sentiment, I came across the following excerpt from a 2001 obituary published in the Pennsylvania-basedTribune Review, in which a man wrote about his late father and the lessons he taught him:

“He [my father] taught me …. how to work hard, how to be respectful of others, how to play a guitar, how your word is your bond…”

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. Nor were they on Monday evening when Melania Trump made these same statements.

The values of honesty, hard work, and treating others as you’d like to be treated ring a lot more like the age-old “Golden Rule” combined with a little bit of the “Cowboy Code of Ethics” — the latter of which was adopted by many in the days of the Wild West.

“Work hard and be nice to people” is another way of putting all this, and it was also a slogan coined on posters by graphic artist Anthony Burrill in at least June of 2008 if not earlier — that is before Michelle Obama’s late-August DNC speech:

It goes without saying that the values touted by both Michelle Obama and Melania Trump are well-worn cliches espoused in speeches made by everyone from motivational speakers, to athletic coaches, to iconic “superheroes,” to CEOs of large companies, to just about every politician running for office.

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