Or people for whom I feel sorry.
One of the most bizarre episodes during the Republican National Convention was the inclusion of material from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech during the Democratic National Convention in Melania Trump’s address on Monday night.
After two days of denying the charges of plagiarism, the campaign finally released a statement by one Meredith McIver, who took responsibility for the “mistake” and tendered her resignation (which was not accepted). As usual, the press accepted this account hook, line and sinker.
I’m sorry, but I’m more curious than that. I know it is a political tradition for underlings to take one for the team. And that would be satisfactory except for a couple of inconvenient truths. First, on Tuesday morning Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “Melania Trump knew exactly what she was doing.” As the primary person responsible for ensuring the convention went off without a hitch, Manafort chose to throw the candidate’s wife under the bus instead of holding himself accountable.
As you may have guessed by now, I am no fan of Donald Trump. And this incident confirms my disdain. It is one thing to use your spouse as a prop for your political ambitions. It is another to hang her out to dry TWICE in a period of three days. I have no idea what kind of person Melania Trump may be, but I understand she is a very private individual. And, having been director of operations for Fritz Hollings’ presidential campaign in 1984, I have seen the impact on personal relationships caused by the rigors and pressure associated with a run for the White House. Speaking in front of the convention attendees and a national TV audience is not something that comes naturally to Ms. Trump. And she performed well in support of her husband. But when it was disclosed the speech contained lifted material, Mr. Trump had two responsibilities. One was IMMEDIATELY to acknowledge the mistake and recognize how gracious First Lady Michelle Obama had been under the circumstances. Second, and more importantly, he needed to stand up for his wife. Instead, he let staff and surrogates question her honor. If he had done the CORRECT thing, Manafort would not have had the opportunity to take her down on Tuesday morning.
But, remember I said he hung her out to dry TWICE. Once Ms. Trump’s integrity was questioned, it opened other avenues of inquiry. Did she have the “chops” to write the speech as she claimed? Her speaker’s bio in the convention program states she “obtain a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia.” (NOTE: Their syntax, not typos.) It did not take long to discover she had dropped out of school after one year and holds no degrees. Donald Trump has repeated this falsehood multiple times. Did he think no one would notice? You do NOT set up your wife to be embarrassed like this.
Unfortunately, there is more than one seat under the Trump campaign bus. The second one is reserved for Ms. McIver, the staff writer who took the fall for plagiarizing Michelle Obama. There’s only one problem. Much like Melania Trump, the campaign put McIver in an untenable position. As stated above, the media have failed to follow the leads to their obvious conclusion.
After reading the stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times, I realized none contained a picture of Ms. McIver. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know what she looked like. I Googled images of her and on the first row of thumbnails, I found the following two pictures.
The first came from McIver’s Twitter page with the caption, “I just wanted to set the record straight. @realDonaldTrump is a wonderful man.” The second is with Donna Root, an executive coach, from her website PRWEB.COM. I doubt McIver has the PhotoShop skills to create the first image. She is a former ballerina and English major. Someone had to help her. So once again, instead of taking personal responsibility, the campaign put her in an embarrassing position. They also put her in a position where she had to lie. On her Twitter page, a follower Brian Mahoney found the two images and pointed out the inconsistency in focus. Her response? “The lighting was just off in the picture because Mr. Trump was standing by a brightly lit window.” You be the judge.
UPDATE: Meredith McIver’s twitter account has been suspended and the fake picture of her and Donald Trump has disappeared. The picture now on the left is a cropped version from another site. Once the original PhotoShopped picture was deleted, the link to my blog was broken and the image could not be viewed.
This ruse makes everything else suspect. As Judge Judy always says, “If it doesn’t make sense, it probably isn’t true.” Which takes us back to her statement of contrition. First, would we have been better informed if McIver or the campaign had simply released her resignation letter? I would have much preferred to see what she told the “boss” rather than the sanitized legalese contained in her statement. Second, in her narrative of what happened, she actually throws Ms. Trump under the bus again. “Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speeches.” This confirms Manafort’s earlier statement, “She knew exactly what she was doing.” Are we to believe Ms. Trump did not remember the material she had researched and shared with McIver? I cannot help but wonder who approved this statement before it was released. And I wonder why McIver, who claims a long personal and professional relationship with the Trump family, would do Ms. Trump such a disservice.
Two women, the candidate’s wife and a long-time associate, are placed in embarrassing positions and Paul Manafort, a hired gun, still has his job. It’s not very visible, but I imagine somewhere under the the Trump campaign bus is a sign that reads, “Reserved for Females.”
For what it’s worth.