Coming up with inspirational and persuading speeches is a great challenge for public figures like politicians. Eloquent communication is a big deal for politicians, who need to keep up with great speakers like Martin Luther King Jr, Margaret Thatcher or John F. Kennedy. Sometimes, it seems easier to take parts from other speeches and hope that no one would notice – a practice that usually backfires due to attentive media. After we talked about Peruvian congressman Elard Melgar in out last post, we wanted to point out some more of the most recent cases of plagiarism in politics:
Melania Trump in 2016
The most recent case of plagiarism in politics involves U.S. president Donald Trump’s wife Melania Trump, who stole parts of her 2016 Republican National Convention speech from Michelle Obama’s convention speech in 2008. Even though the plagiarized parts were obvious, Donald Trump defended his wife, declaring her phrases as clichés that are commonly used and therefore not plagiarized.
This is what Michelle Obama said:
“And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and 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.”
Compared to what Melania Trump said:
“That you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life. 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.”
Barack Obama in 2008
From Michelle Obama to former U.S. president Barack Obama, who copied parts of his 2008 Democratic primary speech from Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. In Patrick’s 2006 speech for his election campaign, he said:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’ — just words. Just words. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself’-just words. ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’ — just words. ‘I have a dream’ — just words.”
Two years later, Obama took the phrases and said:
“Don’t tell me words don’t matter! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words, just speeches.”
Obama later admitted to the plagiarism and apologized for the verdict. According to Obama, he regretted not citing Patrick properly and admitted not being aware of the aftermath of his action.
John Walsh in 2014
During the 2014 elections, the New York Times called out John Walsh, Senator of Montana for plagiarized parts in his dissertation for his Master’s degree from the United States Army War College. According to NYT, Welsh copied and pasted 25 percent of his thesis from other authors without proper attribution.
Rand Paul in 2013
The former 2016 presidential campaign candidate Rand Paul used parts of a Forbes article in his book Government Bullies as well as three pages from scholars of The Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute. Even though Paul acknowledged the sources with footnotes, he didn’t quote the parts, making them appear as paraphrases instead of copy-and-paste. The American media company Buzzfeed noticed the incident and analyzed his verdict in this article.