Melania Trump’s speech at last night’s Republican National Convention was supposed to be a glowing introduction to a potential first lady. While her words made quite the impression, it wasn’t the one that her husband’s campaign had hoped for. At first, Trump was applauded for her confident delivery and inspiring words, but it didn’t take long for journalist Jarrett Hill to notice that the former model’s speech bore shocking resemblances to Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention. While it was no surprise that both women would choose to highlight family values and the importance of hard work in their words, it appeared to be more than a coincidence that several of Trump’s passages mimicked Obama’s with the exception of a few proper nouns.
After his observation, Hill took to Twitter to announce his discovery and chaos ensued as members of the Trump team offered contradictory explanations as to why the speeches were so similar. Originally stating that she had written her address “with as little help as possible,” it soon came out that Mrs. Trump had a whole host of helpers. As of this morning, Donald Trump’s campaign adviser, Jason Miller, commented:
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” he said. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it a success.” -Jason Miller, Trump campaign adviser
While Miller tiptoed around the issue, some pointed fingers at others. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, blamed Hillary Clinton for the matter, claiming that her camp was highlighting the situation to create controversy. He stated “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work against Melania Trump.” Donald himself, chose to ignore the issue all together. After the controversy he simply tweeted: “It was truly an honor to introduce my wife, Melania. Her speech and demeanor were absolutely incredible. Very proud!” That this short and sweet comment is very uncharacteristic of Mr. Trump, who usually takes to Twitter to rant and rave, has many thinking that there is indeed guilt involved in the writing of his wife’s speech and that this was no case of Slovenia-born Melania’s misunderstanding of plagiarism.
The Trump team’s current strategy is to move forward without commenting on the situation so we may never know who was actually responsible for the stolen speech. It seems too ironic that a member of the Trump family would intentionally echo the words of Obama’s better half so let’s offer one far-out theory: that the “author” of Melania’s address is in fact a double-agent, a hero working from the inside to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign.
With all of the chaos ensuing in the current political climate it’s easy to feel pessimistic about the future of the United States. Just so we don’t forget that there are plenty of inspiring AND original fearless females out there, here’s six amazing speeches by some of our favorite first ladies.
Since Barack first joined the campaign trail, Michelle has been by his side and at her own podiums. Although her fashion sense is much applauded, it is her intelligence that is most inspiring. Whether addressing an auditorium of college graduates or delivering a eulogy for Maya Angelou, she constantly offers eloquent opinions on girl power, minority rights, and presidential values. Here’s the center of the storm of current controversy – her 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention.
As current Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton is known for her strong delivery and powerful speeches. In 1995, two years after Bill won the oval office, defenders of women’s rights were ignited when the former first lady gave an epic address at the Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing, China. During the speech she defended the need for gender equality by listing a host of atrocities committed globally against women and children. While serious in tone, her speech ended on a high note and gave the world the line: “Women’s rights are human rights.”
It seems ridiculous that the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed, especially given that it has had the support of a host of first ladies. Two decades before Hillary, the late Betty Ford, wife of Gerald, gave a radical 1975 speech in support of the E.R.A., in which she demanded equal pay for equal work and stressed the importance of the female opinion stating, “I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my ideals…Why should my husband’s job or yours prevent us from being ourself? Being ladylike does not require silence.”
The importance of Human Rights was first and foremost on the minds of several first ladies. Even after the death of her husband, Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt remained a champion for social causes. In the 1940s she served as chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and led the passing of The Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, stating “Human rights must be applied to all human beings regardless of race, or creed, or color,” a sentiment as important today as ever.
Before her husband, Jimmy, became president, Rosalynn Carter was already speaking out on behalf of those often pushed aside by society. As an activist for reform of the treatment of mentally ill people she helped pass the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 and in 1985 she founded the Symposium on Mental Health Policy which brings together leading figures in mental health research. She continues to be as active as ever and in 2009 delivered the keynote address at Emory University’s Mental Health Forum.
Last but most definitely not least is much loved former First lady, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, now known as Jackie O. Idolized for her style, many don’t know that Jackie could speak and write in French, Spanish, and Italian. She event dabbled in some Polish and German. Many credit her husband’s narrow presidential victory in 1960 to her ability to reach Latin populations in the U.S. through her grasp of non-English dialects. In 1963, on the first official trip of JFK’s re-election campaign the president addressed a Texas crowd before giving Jackie the microphone, explaining, “in order that my words be even clearer.” Jackie then spoke to a riveted crowd in flawless Spanish.
Image of Melania courtesy of ABC News