I'm a staunch advocate of staying in my lane and not getting mixed up in larger political debates outside of education. That said, before I was a teacher, I was a political speech writer. After becoming a teacher, I became a student again and not only had to teach how to cite in Chicago/Turabian style, but how that style differs from MLA and APA. I only learned (sort of) how to cite in APA.
It's very annoying and challenging stuff.
I tip my cap to Melania Trump for standing up in front of so many people under such a large microscope. I un-tip my cap because it could have been so much easier and more powerful to cite her sources. Now, I'm admittedly a left leaning person and an Obama fan, but don't stop reading if you're not. Here's a few ways she could have acknowledged taking directly from Michelle Obama's speech and used it as a weapon against democrats instead of a weapon against herself.
- Michelle Obama, in 2008, stood on a stage just like this one and tried to trick the American people by saying "<insert quote>." I stand here tonight as someone who actually had those experiences and has those values, married a man with those values, and am instilling those valued in my son. We need those values in the United States today, etc.
- I don't have enough time to talk about all the things I disagree with President and Michelle Obama on, but there is one thing that I do agree with. In 2008, Michelle Obama claimed "<insert quote.>" Sadly, that's not true in America anymore. That's why we need to elect my husband, Donald J. Trump, so we can make America Great again.
See? Easy. If anyone steals these for use in this election cycle, make sure you cite me correctly and also that I don't agree with the above samples. Here's the other thing. I'm not that big of a fan of using an author that disagrees with the rest of the speech/paper to support it. Just seems like dangerous waters.
Now, the excuses are plenty, but there are a few I want to address.
1. These are common words
That may be, but if you put whole sentences into google and they come up, verbatim, in another speech, you need to make some changes. If this were submitted on turnitin.com or another similar sight, it would come back "bloody" as some teachers say. When middle school children blatantly copy work in a much more stealthy way than someone on the national stage, it causes me great concern.
All that aside, I understand that many politicians use the same tired analogies and phrases. That bums me out. Politicians are supposed to be creative, and the best ones either are or hire someone that is so they can pretend to be. There's plenty of money and plenty of college kids that will work for peanuts just for the chance at writing a speech that millions of people will see. I was one of those kids. It was the best feelings in the world.
2. She did/didn't write it herself
Again, without wading into the "who is lying" debate, everyone should be having things proofread. Whomever is doing the proofreading for message consistency, offensive content, grammar, etc should have caught this. I doubt it was handwritten. Use your mouse and paste it in the search bar. Not hard. That's why politicians have staffers.
3. This isn't a big deal
That's kind of true, but when a large focus of your platform is electronic ethics (Clinton e-mail scandal) then you have to hold yourself to a higher standard. No, this wasn't a national security concern. No, Melania won't be the one making national decisions. That doesn't matter though. You have to be smarter than this in the age of social media and the internet. You have to know that people are going to see this and use it to distract voters from the things that you want them to focus on. It's super easy to hide a scandal when there's something simple to understand (like plagiarism) and make fun of you. Most people aren't political types. Most people don't understand Benghazi or know where it is or even care about it. People do love making fun of people and catching them slipping. That's what this opens the candidate and party up to.
Again, I'm just glad there isn't an intern somewhere that got cornered in the coffee room and was told they were going to have to get fired and take the heat for something they didn't even know about. Sometimes campaigns have to cannibalize one of their own for the greater good. Happens all the time. I'm glad it hasn't happened yet. Interns work hard for no money.
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