I was tweeting last night that I thought people were overestimating the impact. Plagiarism is something that people like journalists care a lot about, but normals don’t.

This morning, I’m not so sure. It could have a modest impact. I expect Trump to get the traditional convention bounce for two reasons: First, because he has a family that’s a lot more likeable than he is, and this will be a chance to showcase them. Holdouts will be asking themselves “Is he really so detestable if these people love him so much?” and it’ll give them the excuse they need to jump the creek. The other is that I expect he will really go after Hillary in a way he hasn’t, and Republicans will like that.

This kind of hurts both of these things. In the first case, his wife is at the center of this in an unflattering way. In the second case, he’ll only be able to take it to Hillary with a marginally competent campaign, and this bolsters the narrative that he’s really just not that competent.

And while plagiarism may be of special interest to journalists, college graduates are aware of the significance, and I think those are exactly the people he needs to sell. On the other hand, maybe some of them also lifted passages in colleges. So there’s that.

Josh Barro argues that the plagiarism actually is relevant, along the lines that it demonstrates the incompetence and dishonesty. On a practical level, he is almost certainly right. Maybe he is politically as well. Where it gets hard for me to say is that I’m not looking to jump the creek and I’m not a swing voter. So I don’t know how they feel.

In the end… probably no difference because nothing ever makes a difference. Those who were going to jump the creek will do so anyway, and those that were not will not. Its that kind of election.


Category: Newsroom

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

8 Responses to Does Melania’s Plagiarism Matter?

  1. Jaybird says:

    I can’t decide if he’s monumentally inept, if he’s trying to rope-a-dope the media, or if he’s a Hillary plant.

    There are so many narratives that fit.

  2. Autolukos says:

    I don’t think this will be the breaking point for many voters, and I don’t think that the original plagiarism warranted more than an evening’s worth of coverage. The deny everything approach to damage control, though, is part of a pattern of behavior that deserves to be highlighted and that probably is a concern to some number of voters.

  3. DensityDuck says:

    What’s interesting is the reaction.

    Suddenly it’s cool to hate on women and call them stupid.

    Suddenly we all care a whole lot about IP rights.

    • One thought I had after hearing the speech is that a lot of my “progressive” friends who are so welcoming of different cultures are now going to start making fun of Eastern European accents. Maybe even a new snl skit will happen, with someone who can pull off just the right impersonation.

      That’s just speculation. I have as of yet seen zero evidence. And maybe people are smarter than that now or maybe the dynamics are just different from how they were in 2008. But I’ve had that thought.

  4. ckmacleod says:

    At this point, there’s very little that might reflect on DJT – short of a brand new revelation of something even more odiously odious than the DJT we have seen – that would seem likely to produce a rationale for a “counter-mandate.”

    Anyone who does not judge the idea of voting for him an intolerable insult to some idea of what the American Presidency requires in terms of dignity and other norms will be left with quasi-practical notions. (It’s always “quasi-,” because the instrumentality of a one person’s vote is always vanishingly small.) So the total calculus reached collectively by the electorate, based on the current polls, would be” Okay – let HRC win over THAT, but don’t give her a mandate or give her and her party any reason to believe we’re really buying what they’re selling. We’ll accept ‘roughly the status quo’ over ‘very risky at best,’ but ‘roughly the status quo’ is a roughly aimless, disunited, passively caretaking national governance, that 60% for HRC would put at risk in a different way.”

    I’ll likely add my vote to the anti-DJT mandate in my state, where HRC will likely win by 30 points, just because I am personally offended by DJT and believe it’s worth rejecting THAT resoundingly, but I’m aware that many Rs and others nationwide will feel different, and find HRC or the Clintons also obscene. I still don’t see the Swingers going in for DJT seriously enough to put us all in danger of him as Prez. I also think that a far superior campaign/ground game will put HRC near the higher range of whatever pre-election estimates.

    Have seen no evidence yet to alter this theory of this election. Would take something truly obscene from DJT – even more obscene than heretofore – a direct insult, close to Election Day, that people would feel obligated to reject dramatically – or a true crisis that we felt required a statement of national unity – I think. Melania cribbing from Michelle is not that. It’s really just more of the familiar embarrassing ridiculousness of DJT as “major” candidate.

  5. Michael Drew says:

    He only wins if there’s a wave of call it what you will – resentment of elite domination of politics, white racial resentment, strong-leader-inspired nationalism, what have you – coming that the polls haven’t picked up on yet. Which I consider a non-trivial possibility. But this will do next to nothing nothing to derail a resulting victory if that’s the case, and won’t materially harm his chances if it isn’t the case, since he’ll be buried in November if there’s no such wave.

    I guess it’s marginally possible that the wave is there but only big enough to make it a close election, so this could be just enough to cause the wave not to put him over the top. I view that as quite unlikely, but if it;s the case, it will have that effect only if this type of error becomes the norm for his campaign (which it is kind of looking like it might). But then it’s the confirmed and repeated incompetence of the campaign that would have that effect, not this one incident. If it’s just this incident, it gets buried under the weight of the coverage that will blanket us through the fall. And the Olympics. No one’s thinking about this by October unless it comes to characterize the entire campaign because of more incidents like it.

  6. ckmacleod says:

    Tweeted this yesterday to our esteemed host – just for the other side, as to how very much the incident can be said to matter: Frum: Ten Reasons Why Melania Trump’s Speech Will Have a Lasting Impact https://t.co/Mw9g2worvq

  7. I haven’t followed this controversy very closely, but do we really know it’s plagiarism? My morning radio station played a small portion of Melania’s speech against the very similar portion of Michelle’s speech, and what struck me is that they were mostly just empty platitudes about doing what you’re say your going to do, etc. Pretty much anyone can come up with that and it doesn’t surprise me that it might have been the case here.

    But then, it wouldn’t totally surprise me if it was plagiarism.

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