How do we know Michelle Obama and her speechwriter didn’t plagiarize her speech to the Democratic National Convention? Because the First Lady spoke last night of her own unique, historic, inspiring experience of the evolving greateness of America in a very personal way that no privileged white pretender ever could:
That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn [First Lady Michelle Obama, speech, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, PA, 2016.07.25].
Michelle Obama did plagiarize Ted Cruz, at least tactically. She skewered Donald Trump without uttering the Republican nominee’s name:
Michelle didn’t have to mention Trump by name to hit him hard, noting how she and her husband have taken pains to tell their daughters “to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith” and to “insist that the hateful language they hear from others on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.” This is Michelle sticking a shiv in Donald Trump’s birtherism and his brutishness. But she managed to do it and stay true to the cheery theme of her convention, not the dystopian vibe of his convention, pointedly advising, “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, our motto is, ‘When they go low, we go high!’” [Rebecca Traister, “Michelle Obama Elegantly Eviscerated Donald Trump, Without Even Mentioning His Name,” New York Magazine, 2016.07.26]
Michelle Obama one-downed Ted Cruz—he uttered Trump’s name once in his convention speech. She also had the opposite effect, breaking the momentum of the Bernie boo-birds who distracted and disrespected most DNC speakers yesterday with their self-indulgent and counterproductive emotional exhibitionism (gee, that sounds familiar) and ending to a powerful ovation. Copy that, Ted.
Michelle Obama took on those boo-birds directly in the same way, not mentioning the name of the man in whose name they were supposedly protesting, but making the political lesson by citing the grown-up example of the woman this convention will nominate for President:
And when she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.
Hillary did not pack up and go home, because as a true public servant Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments.
So she proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.
And look, there were plenty of moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs. But here’s the thing. What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.
And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want [Michelle Obama, 2016.07.25].
You want the party of family values, of optimism, of service, of belief in the greatness of America? You want the party of Michelle Obama. Accept no pale imitations.
Michelle Obama has set a fine example for her daughters and all of our children during her public life. She set another fine example as a parent and a speechmaker last night.