Melania Trump‘s first (only?) major political speech of her career obviously made waves in the country of her birth as well. And not just because she plagiarised Michelle Obama quite audaciously. Or maybe precisely because of that, but from a different perspective. Sure, it looks bad enough from the US point of view. A would-be First Lady ripping off the, well, incumbent comes across as either too eager, inexperienced, brazen or shallow to pass the most basic of musters. After all, FLOTUS is an office (if one can call it that) one is married into rather than elected to. Which makes it all the more necessary to tread carefully lest accusations of usurpation of power be made. Just ask Hillary Clinton.
Knavs Trump giving her first and possibly last major political speech (source)
But with Melania hailing from Slovenia and all, the whole thing took an additional twist this side of the Alps, where we are no strangers to politicos plagiarizing or fabricating elements of their CVs to make them look better and deeper than they really are. And although Ms. Trump has zero connections to the local political cesspool it would be a gross omission not to make a reference to the old Balkan proverb saying that you can apparently take Melania out of Slovenia but you can’t take Slovenia out of Melania.
You see, back in the day when the going was good, money was cheap and the future looked bright, Janez Janša extolled the virtues of Slovenia, her unique role in the world and the limitless possibilities that awaited her and her people if only we set our minds to it, looked to the future instead into the past and became a beacon of the 21st century. It was an upbeat, optimistic Janša, unlike anything we’d ever seen until then (or since). The only problem was it wasn’t actually Janša but rather Tony Blair who said that with Janša simply plagiarizing a key part of his speech from the British PM.
But plagiarizing speeches is one thing. While it is without a doubt bad form and ruinous to one’s credibility (especially if there’s not a lot of that to begin with), at the end of the day the ramifications are relatively mild. After all, why do you think Melania was slated to appear on the very first day of a four-day GOP convention? She’s obviously a political liability to The Donald and by the time the Circus in Cleveland (which, by the way, has a sizeable Slovenian-American population) is over her faux-pas will hardly be remembered.
So, Melania's speech was basically like #Trump University. People paid top dollar to hear something that's really free on the web. #RNCinCLE
— pengovsky (@pengovsky) July 19, 2016
But then there’s that other thing about her formal education. It would appear that contrary to her CV, the would-be FLOTUS didn’t exactly finish her studies of architecture and design. This, too is something we’ve had to deal with in Slovenian politics on various occasions, case in point Ivan Simčič MP of DeSUS, who falsified his high-school certificate to enroll in a faculty. But looking on the bright side, her not actually graduating precludes Melania from succumbing to that other malaise of academically ambitious politicians, plagiarizing their theses, as attested to on many an occasion in the past couple of years by many Slovenian politicians, former education minister Klavdija Markež of the ruling SMC being just the last one in a long line of academically disgraced politicians.
But in Melania’s defence, she is not running for office. Her omissions, misstatements, stolen passages and even lies speak volumes about her or – at the very least – the world she lives in, but they do not constitute any sort of breach of trust. Not even trust of The Donald since he (given everything that was reported on the couple) isn’t the kind of guy to fall for women’s academic achievements.
In fact, what if all of this, rather than a terrible faux-pas is in fact a very smart PR curve-ball, taking everyone by surprise and as a result ensuring Candidate Trump owned the media cycle once more?
Think about it: what exactly do you remember from Day 1 of the GOP convention? Abuse of Benghazi victims for political gain? Rudy Giuliani talking tough to terrorists? The Donald shooting himself in the knee by phoning-in Fox news mid-convention to trash John Kasich thereby interrupting the coverage of convention just as the speakers were ripping into Hillary Clinton at full throttle over Lybia?
None of the above. You just remember Melania channelling Michelle.
As noted above, Melania is in fact a liability for The Donald. But plagiarizing Ms. O. is not the reason for it. You see, Ms. Trump is everything Mr. Trump campaigns against. She’s an immigrant, she has a thick accent, she doesn’t have a “real” job and she’s a successful independent woman who could very well support herself long before she met him. With Melania on stage, the commentariat could (and probably would) be pointing out any of the above and given enough time make a noticeable dent in Trump’s armour.
But as things stand, Team Trump once again dictated the terms of the narrative and the media ate it up. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is state-of-the-art trolling. And if you think that’s a bit rich, well, there’s an actual rickroll in Melania’s speech.
But to reiterate (and to paraphrase @tvoti), the real speechwriter's scandal here is this ACTUAL RICKROLL?!?!?!?!?! pic.twitter.com/eSuFbbVs43
— sonia saraiya (@soniasaraiya) July 19, 2016
We’ve all been had. Again.