Melania Trump, Pretty ‘Plagiarizer’ in White Peplum

UPDATE: CNN is reporting “No one to be fired after Melania Trump speech plagiarism episode.” The RNC is just going to try to motor past it like nothing happened. Unfortunately, that makes the candidate’s wife look more like she’s the one fully at fault. What a damn shame. 

In May, I began a long appraisal of Melania Trump, about whom I knew precious little. I never published it. One thing I did know – because countless Hillary Clinton supporters sent it to me – was her history of posing naked with things;  glittery handcuffs, furs, guns, and briefcases full of jewels on Donald’s private plane. Was this the kind of woman you really want in the White House, my Clinton friends would askTheir premise, of course, was to make me and other Bernie Sanders supporters responsible for a Trump presidency. A load of crap for several reasons; among them how easily it glides over the question of serial womanizer Bill Clinton back in the White House, and whether first spouses ever really matter. And more to the point: What happens next is up to Clinton and Trump, not so much to me.

But there’s more here: How eager people are – “feminists” among them – to downgrade this woman as a moral degenerate. She was a professional model in an industry that pays women to take it off and preen for the camera. Melania Trump’s profession trains women to adopt an affect of blank stare, one that suggests aloof, disinterested superiority. Ennui. But this was the industry she was working in; I’m not going to go after somebody’s work, pre-politics. And if you don’t like it, I can suggest many ways in which pretty women are used for mass consumption. Then we can talk. To date, all Trump’s event are Trump-centric, but after last night, people will now start in on Melania. Particularly since Bill Clinton is a known quantity, comfortable in any setting. A known quantity; his failures, embarrassments, disbarring, impeachment, along with his success. And I admit, those photos got me for about 5 minutes, and then I was like …

I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. 

I thought about that last night as we watched the RNC dumpster-fire of a first night. And Melania’s obvious plagiarizing of Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNCC speech. And if campaign chair Joe Manafort threw Melania under a bus, how unfortunate that is, and how easy to do because she’s so pretty she must be vacuous; it had to be her and not the big swinging dicks running the show.

Her words are clearly lifted. Sure as hell looks like bad staff work to me, and far as I’m concerned woe to the campaign professionals responsible for making this woman look foolish. Expectations for Melania’s speech were so low (and apparently Trump so worried, he made an unscheduled first night appearance to walk her onstage) that her simple, straight, calm delivery was the bright spot in a night of dark, angry, bullshit agitprop. Until we figured out the words weren’t hers. So now we’re in a 2nd-day story of Republican denials, and a rumored “save-my-marriage” situation going on between two very upset Trumps. I know about bad staff work, I’ve even been responsible for some on occasion; it’s almost never the fault of the person giving the speech. And yes, even though she claims she wrote it, “with as little help as possible.” Somebody let her go out there. Where’s this campaign’s discipline?

Back to Donald now. I feel for this guy today, much as I despise everything about him. His convention’s a joke. His staff incompetent. I’m not convinced we’re even looking at a real campaign, instead of one designed to disintegrate right at this moment in the cycle. I’m gonna feel for him for about 5 minutes; then I’m done.

Because, as I thought about how eager some of my Democrat friends were to slut-shame Melania Trump – for photographs, not conduct – that beyond his obviously disreputable politics, it’s so clearly Trump himself whose history of words and conduct on sex are horrifying. Not gonna take my off that ball. Trump, always hovering near Ivanka, color coordinating. Pervy photos of Trump with a growing Ivanka. And – ew – this, and the kind of joking about a daughter’s beauty most fathers would never say, or even think. Trump, apparently less concerned with how things look than most politicians (or, most humans) seems to make a point of showing off his daughter – who he made TV star – in a way he doesn’t with his lookalike sons, who are mostly known for slaughtering large animals on foreign soil. He seems to tease it for public consumption, this man who has married women the age of his daughter, and younger. And who likes to objectify women in the most revolting, throwback ways – Megyn Kelly was a “bimbo” after she reminded him in debate he’d called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.  Arianna Huffington “unattractive.” To a blond Apprentice contestant, he said “Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” And he’s made degrading comments about the appearance of women such as Sarah Jessica ParkerRosie O’DonnellBette Midler. He’s said rape in the military is expected when you put men and women together. In a deposition, when a lawyer needed a few minutes medical break to pump breast milk for her baby, he called her “disgusting.” On negative coverage, he’s said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.

That “young and beautiful piece of ass” may be our First Lady some day. She is fluent in several languages and has lived on several continents. a fact less known than what she looks like. We know she rarely speaks publicly, because he never shuts up. The Washington Post dissects Melania for a curious public. No surprise that their focus is the physical woman; a “rare and exotic creature,” a photograph sitting behind a bowl of jewelry, “twirling a necklace around her fork like a strand of spaghetti — as if she actually might eat carbs.” Likening her to Marie Antoinette, Dynasty, and the Real Housewives. WaPo doesn’t seem to find a First Lady swimming in Melania’s stylish frocks. Or much personality. It’s a harsh appraisal I’m not sure she deserves.

Melania Trump isn’t the schmuck here. She’s the spouse standing next to the schmuck. I’ll be waiting to see how high up in Trump’s campaign heads will roll. Let them roll today.

Ah. See update at the top of the post. Nope, the RNC is going to try to let it slide, and let Melania look like a chump all by herself. This, Blue Jerseyans, does not bode well.

Comments (18)

  1. JKWilson

    Your points about how she’s being treated are well taken. Ultimately however, she’s accountable for her words, and I won’t be wasting my sympathy on anyone who would marry and stay with a vile, racist, sociopathic thug like Donald Trump.

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Fair enough, JK.

  2. Hopeful

    Great post Rosi.

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      Thank you, Hopeful!

  3. CreedPogue

    We seem to have a problem veering between the two extremes in a lot of discussions, instead of acknowledging reality. Sometimes pretty women, even those who speak multiple languages, might not be the greatest intellects. Or, they make moral choices that many of us frown upon. Doesn’t (or shouldn’t) say anything about women in general even “pretty” ones.

    Let’s not forget that SHE chose to say on national television that SHE wrote the speech. She could have just as easily said, “I am giving the speech so I own it. Like my husband, I believe in getting the “best” talent to make us better.” or something like that. Instead, SHE chose to shred what she had been given and turn it over to a ghostwriter they know (according to NYT). And now, the one person who isn’t talking: Mrs. Trump.

    You can feel badly for someone who gets run over after dashing out into traffic while knowing that they are at fault, that is simple human sympathy. But, that doesn’t mean that the driver of the car is suddenly a terrible person either.

  4. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    I know about Meredith McIver.But I don’t see it your way.

    The Trump and Clinton campaigns seem to have flip sides of the same problem. Hillary is so scripted, so risk-averse, vacillating and poll-driven, that it contributes to the perception that she’s phony, dishonest, minus core values and can’t connect with humans. Trump, the opposite. Brags about not relying on staff – in some situations doesn’t even have staff. Off-the-cuff stoopid comments are framed by him as “honesty,” and nobody’s vetting his mouth.

    But this is the big leagues now, and his campaign’s monumental lack of message discipline is showing big-time. This is what happens when there’s structure-failure. Speeches like this get vetted, and somebody there should have known her better, engendered her trust, checked the damn tele-prompter, known what was going to go down.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been somebody’s staff at the federal level. You take responsibility, you don’t leave your guy (or your guy’s spouse) hanging out to dry, when YOU have responsibility for campaign message.

    She has some culpability here, too, you’re right. But if she was vulnerable to make a mistake like this – that cost his campaign a full day-plus of message control at their own one-chance convention – Trump should have had structure and discipline to know it. This is what happens when you let your family run your show.

  5. robosz

    Maybe Melania Trump is just as bold, strong-willed, and arrogant as her husband. She knew well-paid pros sent her a speech, but SHE KNEW BETTER, as anyone with the last name Trump seems to feel. And you are surrounded by semi-loyal sycophants who can’t reason with the Trump family of geniuses once they have determined that their words are more beautiful than yours.
    Rosi, you spent most of your Melania piece attacking previous negative commentaries directed to you from HRC folks. So, rather than gleefully reading Blue Jersey to celebrate an RNC disaster, I was treated to a semi-browbeating directed at anyone who dares to enjoy the fun of a GOP fail without having the requisite guilt that HRC is just as villainous and terrible and her supporters do bad things too.

    You gave Melania Trump a whole lot of leeway. I didn’t see a whole lot of the “slut-shaming” happening post-speech, … just large laughs like the ones that followed Clint Eastwood (“Oh the ineptitude!”)
    I hate to say it, but respectfully I think I might add you were not going to let the Dems “enjoy” this brief moment too much, and you came out swinging. I always feel it’s so hard to be liberal because liberals are always trying to “out-liberal” each other, thus adding to the feeling of despair that one is either masochistic trying to be liberal in the face of conservatism, or inadequately liberal enough to be welcomed by the true liberals.

    You accuse HRC of arrogance here at Blue Jersey, quite regularly. In your Melania piece, you never suggested the scenario that Melania Trump might actually be strong-willed and yet arrogant, arrogant enough to blow off the advice of well-paid advisors. Just like Mr. Trump would. It’s not slut-shaming to criticize someone for thinking they know better and have the power to over-rule voices of reason; it’s called ego meeting reality, and she deserved ridicule — and the campaign too.

    I submit this note with great respect for your opinions and hard work … but as an avid reader, I am also just reporting back that it is getting increasingly difficult to come back to Blue Jersey these days since Bernie Sanders has waned and his supporters have become bitter. I never had a negative thing to say about Bernie and hope he follows through with a wider revolution that has more legs than just this election cycle. But these days I don’t know what’s worse — being lectured about our national doom from the right or the purist left. I value the opinions here but if I keep reading I may not vote for the first time, ever… I can’t let that happen.

    1. CreedPogue

      All I can say is that I would rather have Rosi acting out her grief and disappointment HERE rather than on the floor in Philadelphia.

      1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

        I’m not grieving and I’m not disappointed. You’re off-wobble presuming things you have no idea about.

    2. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      It is possible that Melania made a headstrong decision. We may never know. One thing I realized today: Everyday I get the RNC headliner speeches in advance, as prepared and embargoed for delivery. Sometimes they arrive late, like they did Tuesday morning – after Monday speeches. And there was Giuliani’s speech, Flynn’s, everybody’s. But not hers, the email sent the next day when even if they didn’t have it in draft beforehand, they left themselves plenty of time overnight to transcribe it for press. That one thing suggests what a disruption to their plans this was, and how poorly they were prepared to do damage control. Interesting, eh?

      As to my post … You know, robosz, it’s a big, wide internet and if all you were looking for was red meat and a chance to laugh at the RNC, I’d say two things: (1) We’ve given you plenty of opportunities to do that this week here, and (2) just turn on the damn news; when they all glom together (though the “Q” is at least 1/3 empty) all their worst crazy oozes out. Funny/terrifying.

      I’m not going to apologize for what I think of all this. This is an opinion site and I’m 11 years vetted here (as are you, nearly that long). Like I said, I wrote the bones of this more than two months ago, just trying to work out what bothered me about all the crass references I was reading about this person. Something felt off about it.

      This isn’t, for me, a binary situation, of hating Trump so everything about the Clinton campaign is sunshine and unicorns, nor do I feel the need to downtalk Trump’s wife if I feel she doesn’t deserve it, just because she married a jackass.

      You say my post suggests Hillary Clinton is “villainous” and “terrible.” You say I ‘accuse’ HRC of arrogance; that quality is one of the reasons she has trouble connecting, plenty of journalists point that out. But – You’re projecting. I didn’t say anything about Hillary here at all. I was reporting on the number of people who send my messages with naked Melania pictures – as though I hadn’t seen them. And how often those people were women – older women to be more specific – and sending me soft porn through the internet (I’m sorry, that’s just weird) while making – with zero irony – a “feminist” argument that I should vote for HRC … because I’m a woman.

      Leaving aside the threats, insults (I “owe Hillary my vote,” I’m “not a real woman” I should “move to Canada” and I’m “trivial,” “angry” and “shouldn’t get to vote”) and other nonsense expressed to me (which to be clear I’m not accusing you of at all), I assume most of these people made their candidate choice thoughtfully. And I don’t question it. So, yes, I got tired of people’s personal vitriol. But it meant something to me that these same people were freaking out about another woman’s gainful employment. I’m no fan of that profession, but the hypocrisy was kinda too obvious to ignore. The Clinton campaign IMO made a poor decision leaning so heavily on “Because I’m a woman” as a selling point for the candidate. That’s not inspiring to many people (or feminist) and I’d question whether the fascination with Melania in a metal bikini while you verbally clobber other women demanding their “feminist obligation” is really some kind of step forward for folks.

      I hope you’ll vote in November, and I hope nothing you read anywhere dissuades you from it. And you’re always welcome here.

      1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

        So, it seems robosz was right on a very key point – that Melania knew she was cribbing somebody else’s words without attribution. All due respect.

        But read the rest of this piece and you’ll see a Trump campaign that is apparently being so poorly managed it’s got a Trump Organization employee writing speeches, she offers herself up for sacrifice but two days late, and Manafort looks like a fool being contradicted. This campaign is a mess. There’s still time for it to recover, and of course we haven’t seen what mistakes Team Hillary will make next week.

        But if I had to predict, I’d say there won’t be any mistakes – not this kind. The DNC is being managed by Rev. Leah Daughtry, who is smart, capable and well-respected. Organized. And Hillary’s operation is tight – too tight, IMO, but certainly professional. Remains to be seen if HRC earns the support of the progressive wing, or if she even wants to. But that’s another matter. My guess is the message rollout at DNC will be well-managed.

      2. robosz

        Your substantive reply is much appreciated.

        If you had the time, could you write a piece describing how you and any fervent Clinton supporters you know personally have successfully managed to keep your debates alive and honest, without getting each other ticked off. Or has it been months of diplomatic “Let’s not go there..” with people in your many circles?
        Maybe that kind of retrospective has to be written in December, as there is still a long slow slog to go. Just curious how politically-engaged folks even face each other during these stretches.
        And I will definitely vote in November. Never Republican!

        1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

          That’s a hard call, robosz. I’m not sure how many of those productive convos I’ve been able to have. People see me sometimes as a lightning pole for whatever they don’t like about Sanders voters. So I get a lot of negative crap – – though I’m hardly the only one.

          The personal insults from some Clinton supporters I know – and, ahem, some I’m related to – way eclipse the valuable discussions. Truth: I’ve had better, cleaner, more substantive convos with some Trump and Cruz supporters than many HRC ones. There are people who have ruined their relationships with me, because they hurl insults and don’t bother to notice insults aren’t being hurled back.

          I do blame the candidate for that; the climate of attacking voters she’s encouraged. She’s struggled to get people engaged and committed, to be about something that grabs people outside of party loyalty and gender-ID. And at the same time, I don’t think she was prepared for how easily Sanders was able to resonate. In fairness, nobody saw him coming (I didn’t, and we did a benefit show for him back in 1992 when he was just a Vermont progressive). But I also think – this is the candidate’s weakness – she didn’t have the chops to even try to compete for people who found him compelling. Or to persuade people who weren’t already her fans. And so – and here come’s the campaign’s weakness – they decided to try to take down Sanders by delegitimizing his supporters. I say ‘the campaign’s weakness’ because their strategy was to use former right-wing ghouls like David Brock along with former-good guys like Peter Daou, to buy up a legit publication they turned into a propaganda machine to insert suggestive stories into mainstream media (plus using social media). And a lot of that wasn’t even directed to Sanders, who they had trouble attacking because he polled as the better liked and trusted candidate. So they tried to chip away at him by delegitimizing his voters – as misogynist, sexist, racist, trivial, Berniebro, assholes. They tried to make every one of his voters out as young, foolish, unrealistic “voting tourists” – which was never true. And in doing so, they badly alienated a lot of voters under 40, a long-term bad move.

          Just that one thing encouraged a lot of Clinton voters to ramp up personal attacks on Sanders people. Their frustration was palpable – and I understand a lot of it – they see Trump as dangerous. And he is. But “I’m not Trump” isn’t enough to convince every voter she needs. People don’t always respond to a negative. And she still struggles with core political values, she always has. And she has the disadvantage of being an establishment candidate for a restive, anti-establishment electorate (both parties) tired of the status quo in party and in Washington. She has the extra negative (for some voters) of being seen as a 1990s throwback.

          A candidate who struggles with message has the disadvantage of not arming her supporters with much to convince others with – and gender and negative better-than-Trump doesn’t always work on people, particularly young voters who her campaign seems to think are idiots. [I can’t tell you the number of young women I know who are actually offended by what they think of as antiquated white lady feminism (and not intersectional), and got their sense of who Hillary is by old women (like Gloria Steinem, Madelaine Albright and Hillary) verbally abuse them because they themselves don’t understand what’s important to them].

          I’ve seen some of Hillary’s folks who feel strongly just hit you with whatever is available – that includes emailing people nude pictures of Melania (which always struck me as a pervy thing to do), and clobbering people who Hillary has alienated, or failed to engage. There was always a risk to her campaign’s early decision to malign Sanders voters, and we may be seeing some of the backsplash of that. Can she get people back once she’s alienated them, and let them know they’re not part of her vision?

          That’s how I see the non-productive convos about the Dem campaign. But having said that, I personally expect much smarter conversations next week in Philadelphia. And, though I think the forces of money and structure of the Democratic Party have collaborate to secure us the weaker candidate, I also think it’s not too late for Hillary to shift course, to find her stride, to be held accountable. And I hope she does it.

          1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

            Yikes, the length of my reply was positively Lefkovician. Inside joke. My apologies, robosz. – R

          2. robosz

            Wow – thanks for the instant reply.
            And wow, no doubt you encountered that, but I have had the exact opposite experience. The Clinton people I spoke with rarely anti-Bernie, and never attacked him personally, … they just quietly feared the circus tent would collapse once the GOP shit storm of lies began raining down on him, for he was, in fact, fresh meat for the un-engaged half-voters nationally. And so for the regulars who aren’t political insiders, I just felt the HRC people were almost quietly supporting, and hoping an eventual crisis would be averted.
            Online and in person, I encountered far more vitriol directed at HRC from Bernie supporters, hands down. Not that that negates what you’ve encountered — as you said, you are in a position that’s going to be vulnerable to people’s wrath because you live among the most engaged (politically speaking).
            But as a casual reader and someone who spends most of their time trying not to get into family or neighbor fights about Trump, I am simply reporting what I came across lo these past few months while watching the Clinton-Sanders competition. I just felt the exact opposite of what you saw in terms of the nastiness quotient when it came the Dem schism in what I would read and hear. It really might be in the eye of the beholder — whose supporters were more vicious to the other’s candidate.

  6. CreedPogue

    You seem to hold Hillary responsible for the actions of some of her supporters (not even staffers) but seem to be unable to understand that many of us have been put off by the actions of Sanders’ supporters, staffers and surrogates as well as the candidate.

    One could go on about the risks and deficiencies of Senator Bernie Sanders as a possible president, but there is no need to re-litigate all of that except that some seem to feel the need to continue to take potshots at Hillary.

    Like it or not, presidential elections in the United States of America are binary decisions. You either get A or B. When B is such an obvious disaster in waiting, then doing anything other than encouraging people to vote “A” is helping that disaster to become reality. I wish there were perfect candidates out there, but as long as we continue to insist on electing living human beings it is likely that we will continue to be disappointed on that score. As much as I detest Ted Cruz, I have to give him some credit for the raw courage to stand up on the stage and ask people to vote their conscience.

    Fortunately, most of the polling seems to indicate that Hillary will retain the Obama 2012 vote. After 2000, one would hope that responsible people would not do anything to encourage new voters to either stay home, vote Stein or write-in Bernie. Young people have some excuse because they don’t have the history to know better. Those of us who are relatively older have no such excuse.

  7. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    To be specific, Creed, there is a difference.

    In the HRC campaign, corporate money by the tens of millions was committed to a campaign-run propaganda strategy designed to malign voters Clinton couldn’t win. That included the first-ever super PAC to ever coordinate with a campaign which in part funded made-up or exaggerated stories about Sanders voters, and pumping those out professionally. That is a singular occurrence and it has no match in the Sanders or any other campaign. Corporate money being used to malign voters. Read: Depress the progressive vote in a party where the winning candidate swears she’s a progressive.

    There is also no match in Sanders’ or any other campaign to use a former legitimate publication – bought up by David Brock, the guy who tried to destroy Anita Hill when she testified against Clarence Thomas – for heavily campaign-shaded content (read: propaganda) that people pick up as if legitimate news, and then reinforce via social media. That is how some of the themes against progressive voters were shipped out – like Dolores Huerta claiming Nevada Bernie voters were behaving like racists. That story went around the world and into main stream media before video and proved it never happened.

    I have no doubt that every campaign’s people annoy every other campaign’s people; that’s life. But one campaign used high level disinformation people to create or exaggerate negative stories about voters.

    You appear to think whatever’s negative is a “potshot.” But the reality is that the reticence of progressive voters is every bit as legitimate as your embrace of her. We get a vote, like you do. And people arrive at that vote with whatever process is organic to them. You can rail at Sanders voters all you want. I’m very aware of Democrats who treat progressive voters like social pariahs up to and during when there demanding a lockstep vote. It’s part of the struggle for the soul of the party that doesn’t end with this cycle or this election. And btw, I think Hillary will retain most of the Obama (2012) vote too – and I think it will be enough. I also think she may be hobbled all the way up to that vote by voter perception that she’s dishonest, and unclear core guiding principles. Polling suggests strongly that she may have that problem, don’t shoot the messenger, but that possibility is pretty obvious. [I also think it’s not too late to take actions to give more people reason to shift their opinion – it’s only July, and most of America hasn’t even figured out all this is even going on yet].

    And by the way, your remarks seem to suggest you know what my vote/s are. You don’t. My 2 cents.

  8. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Robosz, to your 5:41pm reply:

    That’s entirely possible. I wish more of my friends who back Clinton had a better sense of how to advocate for her. I never bought the idea that the GOP shitstorm would take down Sanders very easily. The level of commitment he engaged in his voters is higher than that Trump attracted (though to be sure, Trump definitely also brought out crowds). But we never got a chance to see if people were willing to send him checks, because he self-funded, and bragged that was his advantage. And I’m not sure Trump’s voters know enough to discuss politics with Bernie supporters; they’re issues-driven, and my perception is fewer of the Trump voters are. Sanders scored the highest of any candidate (if I recall right) on honest ad trustworthy, and approval rating (and among 100 senators sores highest by far on constituent loyalty. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to take him down – not by a longshot – just that he built up a lot of insulation against that that Clinton – disliked and not trusted for many years, and under federal investigation – did not.

    This is a great convo, robosz, just want to thank you for it. Have to sign off for the eve, but will check later for any thoughts you may have.


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