Republicans Circle the Wagon for Trump

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last night, after I finished writing about the Republican convention, I plopped into my easy chair and watched an episode of The Night Manager, which I DVRed a while back. After it was over, I turned on CNN at about 1:30 am Eastern time, and they were chatting about the Melania Trump plagiarism. It was sort of astonishing: virtually everyone was doing their best to minimize the whole thing. And I’m not talking about the Trump cheerleaders, I’m talking about the regular reporters.

Anyway, at one point someone—Jake Tapper, maybe—said he was most interested not in the plagiarism per se, but in how the campaign would respond to it. Option 1 was to just bull through it, as Trump usually does. Option 2 was to be “transparent,” which he defined as admitting that it happened, and explaining that it was probably an accidental cut-and-paste done by a harried staffer. I was agog at both these points. Bull through it? How can you do that? And in what universe does making up a story about an “accidental” cut-and-paste count as transparent?

But I guess I was wrong, wrong, wrong. The Trump campaign certainly seems to agree that the cut-and-paste story would, in fact, count as transparent and thus would be bad for Trump’s image as an asshole. So they did what I thought was impossible: bull their way through. Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson who makes Ron Ziegler look candid and honest, had this to say:

“These are values, Republican values by the way, of hard work, determination, family values, dedication and respect, and that’s Melania Trump,” Pierson told The Hill. “This concept that Michelle Obama invented the English language is absurd.”

Paul Manafort, of course, also says there was no plagiarism. Chris Christie says the speech was 93 percent non-plagiarized, and that should be good enough for anyone. Actor Stephen Baldwin says the identical phrases were “sheer coincidence.” The RNC’s Sean Spicer says Twilight Sparkle of “My Little Pony” used the same words as Melania. WTF does that even mean? I guess they’ve all been reduced to desperate googling in an effort to find someone, anyone, other than Michelle Obama who might have said something kinda sorta similar to the plagiarized phrases.

Then there’s Ben Carson, who actually admits something happened, but suggests it was just an innocent mistake and paints it as an overall positive: “I think we should celebrate the fact that both parties take something like what Michelle Obama said and Melania Trump said and they honor it and cherish it and think that it’s something — that tells you that we’re not as far apart as Democrats and Republicans want to make it out to be.”

As for the Trumps themselves, they’ve been silent so far. Melania’s Twitter account merely passes along the campaign’s official statement, while Donald’s Twitter account has been unusually inactive. I guess he’s letting his minions soften up the ground for him before he strikes. What’s your guess? Will he blame Hillary Clinton? The liberal media that’s obviously out to get his wife? ISIS?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate