Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump's Handling of Speech Mess Speaks Volumes

You know, I kind of feel bad for Melania Trump.

She seems like a nice enough lady, despite her choice of spouse, and I’m sure she only wanted to help. I’m sure she didn’t mean for a speech which was supposed to be a nice, warm ’n’ fuzzy moment in her husband’s campaign to reveal just how inept and amateurish that campaign is.
At first, Madame Trump’s speech was pretty standard stuff, and a welcome change from a night when we had already endured the ghastly spectacles of, among other things, Chachi from “Happy Days” and a third-tier soap opera star from Italy telling us what’s wrong with America, followed by Rudy Giuliani screaming at the top of his withered lungs like a lunatic on a street corner.
She noted Trump’s loyalty to his family, which must have come as a bit of a surprise to the two wives he’d divorced before her. She asserted Trump’s respect for his former rivals, like “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” and the guy whose brother lied us into the Iraq War. And so on.
Then things took a strange turn. Political reporters and pundits who were watching began to realize that, hey, parts of Madame Trump’s speech sounded awfully familiar. And sure enough, a side-by-side comparison of Monday’s speech and Michelle Obama’s speech during the 2008 Democratic National Convention revealed that someone had lifted entire paragraphs from that older speech. We’re not talking about “common words and values,” as Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lamely tried to assert. We’re talking the exact same words and phrases in the exact same order. We’re talking clear plagiarism.

Now, this may seem like a small thing, easily laughed off, and believe me, I laughed as hard as anyone. Then I started seeing the Trumpista reactions to the situation, and it set me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing. For one thing, they couldn’t seem to settle on who had actually written the speech. Mrs. Trump claimed she’d written it herself, with “only minimal help” from the campaign. The campaign, however, released a statement saying that Melania’s “team of writers took notes on her life’s aspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”
Finally, staffer Meredith McIver came forward and fell on her sword. She said that Mrs. Trump, who’s “always liked” the First Lady (oh! the heresy!) had read her some of Mrs. Obama’s speeches, and neither Ms. McIver nor anyone in the campaign had checked the final draft against their “inspirations.”
Consider this: The Trump campaign sent the woman who would be First Lady out to make a major speech, apparently without any vetting. That speech contained passages that were clearly cribbed from not just any speech, but from a major speech given at an event that a substantial number of the reporters, commentators and other political junkies watching had already seen and would most likely remember. Then, incredibly, they couldn’t get their stories together on who’d written it.
The whole thing speaks of a level of fumbling and incompetence so great that one has to doubt if these people have enough sense to pour water out of a boot even if you printed the instructions on the heel.

But what about Hillary Clinton, you say? Wasn’t her handling of classified information “extremely careless,” in the words of FBI Director James Comey? Isn’t that worse?
First, we don’t know how Trump and his people would handle classified information, since he’s a political novice who hasn’t had to do it very much, but this level of carelessness with what should be simple stuff doesn’t bode well for his competence with complex information.
Second, “you’re just as bad as me” doesn’t make you better. Third and most important, in his later testimony, Comey admitted that even the “very small number” of Clinton’s emails he’d referenced were not properly marked “classified” in the headers as such emails are required to be by the manual controlling such things. Instead, the designation was indicated by a little letter “c” somewhere in the body of the email. Comey told Rep. Matt Cartwright it would be a “reasonable inference” for Clinton to believe that “the absence of a header would tell her immediately that those three documents were not classified” — a detail almost universally ignored by the so-called liberal media.
The Republican party, this past Monday, spent an entire evening trying to frighten us into voting for Donald Trump’s Daddy State policies by yelling at us that the world is a terrifyingly dark place, full of monsters — then proceeded during the course of the night’s keynote speech to show us they’re too incompetent to handle a softball political convention speech. It doesn’t inspire confidence.