- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

So by now you’ve all heard the paragraph in Melania Trump’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Monday night that were eerily similar to excerpts of Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008.

All in all, I don’t believe voters care about plagiarism in speeches. Just look at Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s success in government — politicians lift lines off each other all the time.

Below are some of the greatest riffs in my humble estimation.

Mr. Biden, stealing details of British Labor Party Leader Neil Kinnock’s speeches, and life. At a debate at the Iowa State Fair in 1987, Mr. Biden said: “Why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? … Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? … Is it because they didn’t work hard, my ancestors who worked in the coal mines of Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours? … It’s because they didn’t have a platform upon which to stand.”

Compare that to quotations in a commercial from Mr. Kinnock: “Why I am the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? … Was it because our predecessors were thick? … Was it because they were weak, those people who could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football, weak? … It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.”

After the debate, Mr. Biden said his remarks came to him spontaneously. However, after critics started pointing out the similarities, his team acknowledged to the Orlando Sentinel that Mr. Biden had failed to credit Mr. Kinnock during the debate, but that the failure was inadvertent, “purely the result of time constraints,” and they denied any intent to deceive.

But, according to History.com, Mr. Biden took leads from Mr. Kinnock’s life in other settings. Mr. Biden “even borrowed facts from Kinnock’s life, stating inaccurately, for example, that he was the first in his family to go to college and that his ancestors were coal miners,” History.com said.

President Obama was also called out in 2008 for lifting lines from former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Mr. Obama acknowledged the lift and said Mr. Patrick “gave him,” the information — that they exchange ideas all the time. He also called the plagiarism accusations as “absurd and desperate,” The New York Times reported.

Mr. Obama also went on the attack — calling out then-competitor Hillary Clinton for using two of his standard lines “It’s time to turn the page,” and “Fired up and ready to go” — for showing up in her speeches.

“I’m happy to give Deval credit, as I give to a lot of people for spurring all kinds of ideas,” Mr. Obama told The Times. “But I think it’s fair to say that everything we’ve been doing and generating excitement and the interest that people have had in the elections is based on the core belief in me that we need change in America.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has also been accused of plagiarism — for quoting Wikipedia on recounting the plot of “Gattaca.” Buzzfeed reported Mr. Paul also lifted language from Wikipedia while talking about the movie “Stand and Deliver” in a June 2012 speech. In addition to the movie references, Mr. Paul was accused in 2013, during his response to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech for using language exactly the same as a 2011 Associated Press report.

Mr. Paul responded to the criticisms by arguing he was the victim of “haters” out to destroy his political career. He denied borrowing any language.

It appears that Mr. Trump’s team is going to take a similar route.

Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, dug in Tuesday morning on CNN, saying Mrs. Trump didn’t crib Mrs. Obama’s speech and that the attack was “once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.”

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