Here's Johnny - This speech brought to you by.
I swear on my mother's future grave (she's quite healthy, by the way) that I had not planned on writing about the Republican National Convention or its nominee this week. People might get the impression that I think Mr. Trump a bully and a braggart and a liar, and just because I believe those things doesn't mean I want people to believe I believe those things. (Sorry, in Marx Brothers mode. You can skip to the end if you wish.) Then Mr. Trump's lovely wife gave a lovely speech Monday night, and for two reasons, I jumped back in time eight years. For three semesters, I was a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky, teaching upper-level broadcast journalism and mass media courses from the spring of 2007 through the spring of 2008. I enjoyed the work, and happen to believe I was pretty good at it. (If I was running for president on one ticket, I'd refer to my work then as "amazing" and "unbelievable.") One of a teacher's jobs is to ensure a student's work is his own. As far as I know, all of mine wrote their own stories, though there were times I wished they'd copied the work of someone competent. Were I still at UK, and were Melania Trump one of my students, and had she turned in a story quite reminiscent of that done by another student eight years before, I'd give her an "F." Decide for yourself whether the wife of the GOP presidential nominee cribbed from woman whose place she'd like to take in the White House: Michelle Obama, Aug. 25, 2008 "And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them. "And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and to pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children - and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them." Melania Trump, July 18 "From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. "And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them." Before the speech, Mrs. Trump told NBC's Matt Lauer that she'd written most of the speech herself. After the speech, when citizens and members of the media with working brain cells compared her convention speech to that of Mrs. Obama's, the Trump campaign changed its tune. First the campaign released a statement that didn't address the question of whether these sections of Mrs. Trump's speech were plagiarized. They spent the following morning ridiculing such a notion, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saying, ". 93 percent of the speech was completely different." Trump's campaign manager tried to change the subject, attacking Trump's November opponent in the process. "There's no cribbing of Michelle Obama's speech. These were common words and values, that she cares about her family, things like that," said Paul Manafort. "I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night. She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy." Manafort added, "This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down." Of course, it wasn't Hillary Clinton who pointed out the extraordinary similarities between the Obama and Trump passages. But, as people who spend their lives in politics know better than real human beings, the best defense is a good offense, and to hell with the truth. I'm reminded of a line from the wonderful Marx Brothers movie, Duck Soup: "Well, who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?" Well?