CLEVELAND — Melania Trump wrote her speech.
She wrote it “with as little help as possible” from others, she told Matt Lauer Monday.
Or she didn’t write her speech.
“Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” according to a press release from the Trump campaign sent to reporters at 1:48 a.m. on Tuesday.
Monday night, the kickoff of the Republican Convention here, Melania Trump served as the keynote speaker, delivering 15 minutes of remarks about her love for her husband and for her adopted country.
But there was a problem: Nearly an entire paragraph of words that came out of Mrs. Trump’s mouth had already been uttered on a convention stage, the Democrats’ in 2008, when Michelle Obama addressed the country.
The plagiarism immediately overshadowed the rest of the first day of the convention, which was an historic display of extremist myopia.
Melania, like the First Lady before her, said she was raised with the “values” that “you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say.”
Another sentence, “We need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow 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,” was, save for a few words, nearly verbatim to Michelle Obama’s speech.
Melania’s mimicry was a terrible end to a terrible day for her husband.
Monday began with his ghostwriter, the man who actually wrote The Art of the Deal, coming out against him in The New Yorker, where he accused him of sociopathy, among other things.
Then, Trump’s motorcade got into a car accident on the way to the airport in New York (he wasn’t injured).
Next, chaos erupted on the convention floor, with the “never Trump” faction of the Republican Party making a last-ditch attempt to change the rules to bar Trump from becoming the nominee. They ultimately failed, but not before shattering the Trump campaign’s hope that the convention would be the place the party united in support of The Donald.
At this rate, the locusts should be arriving in town by noon.
The Trump campaign cannot decide whether Melania wrote her speech, but they have promised that no staffers will be fired over the episode, giving at least some credence to the notion she penned it herself, despite her shaky command of the English language.
Although early reports suggested it was Rick Gates, a campaign aide close to campaign manager Paul Manafort was responsible for editing and signing off on Melania’s words.
One source close to the campaign said it was “possible” the screw-up was a “triple-bank shot,” a covert attempt by a disgruntled staffer to embarrass Melania and, by extension, Trump. But the source said it was more likely that whoever wrote the first draft mixed up their notes of other speeches with their own original thoughts.
Whatever the explanation is, instead of apologizing for what could have been an honest mistake rather than a malicious rip-off of the First Lady’s ideas, the campaign is engaging in spin so brazen it might as well be a contortionist act.
Ben Carson, the sometimes-vegetarian Trump surrogate and former neurosurgeon, said, “If Melania’s speech is similar to Michelle Obama’s speech, that should make us all very happy because we should be saying, whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, we share the same values.”
The exact same values, yes.
Manafort twisted even further: Melania’s speech was, somehow, Hillary Clinton’s fault.
“There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values, that she cares about her family, things like that,” he said. “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.”
Donald Trump is, of course, no stranger to taking other people’s ideas and passing them off as his own.
His campaign slogan, Make America Great Again!, was first used by Ronald Reagan in 1980. Trump trademarked it in 2012.
In 2005, the Trump Institute, a seminar he allowed to use his name and brand, charged attendees for literature that was plagiarized from “an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier,” according to The New York Times.
And in March of 2016, Trump appeared to have plagiarized a February 2016 column by Carson.
A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to requests for additional comment.