When in doubt, accuse Hillary Clinton of being a malign and omnipotent force from which all human suffering does emanate.
One of the few respites from this avalanche of exploited grief was Melania Trump’s refreshingly anodyne tribute to her husband’s greatness. And for roughly an hour after Melania left the stage, pundits showered her with plaudits. After all, Mrs. Trump is not a public speaker, English isn’t her first language, and yet she was still less viscerally uncomfortable to listen to than most of the speakers who preceded her.
And then people realized that she had taken a full paragraph from Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008.
A new plume of flaming refuse billowed above the garbage fire that is Trump 2016. And the campaign reached for its security blanket.
“There was no cribbing from Michelle Obama’s speech,” Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort told CNN’s New Day. “These were common words and values, that she cares about her family and things like that. She was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy. This is, once again, an example of how when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.”
As of this writing, Hillary Clinton has not commented on the plagiarism fiasco. To suggest that Clinton is behind the negative coverage is to suggest that the Democratic nominee literally controls American mass media. Granted, this isn’t that big a leap from the idea that Clinton is personally responsible for the Benghazi attacks, or every murder committed by an undocumented immigrant, or Vince Foster’s suicide, or her husband’s infidelities. So perhaps the Trump campaign isn’t flailing desperately here. Perhaps their position is that Hillary Clinton is literally Beelzebub.
Notably, while Manafort was explicitly blaming Clinton, he was implicitly blaming Melania. It is deeply doubtful that the would-be First Lady wrote her speech entirely by herself. And even if she did, it’s the campaign’s job to vet it. And yet Manafort doesn’t put the blame for the plagiarized paragraph on the incompetence of some anonymous staffer — he suggests that Melania was the speech’s sole author, by arguing that she, personally, wouldn’t have “cribbed” Obama’s speech.
Later, in an interview with CBS, Manafort reiterated Melania’s direct responsibility for the words in her address.
And yet the evidence that Mrs. Trump’s speech was written by a staffer who joined the campaign in a bout of ironic whimsy continues to mount.
Meanwhile, former prosecutor Chris Christie defended Melania by pointing out that only 7 percent of her speech was plagiarized.
But before liberals get too giddy, they should note that the “Hillary Clinton is actually Satan” strategy is holding up, at least for now. An NBC/SurveyMonkey tracking poll now shows Clinton and Trump in a statistical tie.