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Local speech expert: Don’t dump on Melania Trump

By Staff | Jul 19, 2016

A local educator with a specialty in speech says some of Melania Trump’s remarks might echo a previous Michelle Obama speech closely enough to be called plagiarism but the presumptive Republican nominee’s wife should be given both the benefit of doubt and a break.

Thomas Pear, an assistant professor of English and Communications at Hodges University, used Melania Trump’s speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention as a class example Tuesday, telling students the similarity between Monday’s speech and two portions of one the first lady made eight years ago at the Democratic National Convention are close enough to cause serious problems on an academic level.

But given the situation, it’s a bit much – and unfair – to call Melania Trump a plagiarist, he said.

“Oh, it’s plagiarism but I don’t know that it’s deliberate plagiarism on her part,” Pear said. “I know people write their own speeches but they get help, professional help.

“That could get you thrown out of a college or university,” he added. “But in a public situation like that I think it’s that she had a speech writer or some help, and that person will get the old Donald Trump adage, ‘You’re fired.'”

Pear said the speech brouhaha is likely to blow over.

“I think the American people are going to forgive her,” Pear said. ” No. 1, English isn’t her first language, her native tongue, and No. 2, somebody had to have helped her construct the speech, someone she trusted.”

He also predicts there will be little political fallout.

“My guess is Michelle Obama is going to be gracious,” he said. “She generally is.”

As reported by the Associated Press, the first segment that has come under scrutiny is:

“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 life.” – Melania Trump

“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like, you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, that 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.” – Michelle Obama

The second segment is:

“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.” – Melania Trump

“Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and to pass them onto 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 hard for them.” – Michelle Obama

Pear said, controversy aside, the choice of a common theme is, in itself, interesting.

“Ironically, it shows we do have some common values, Democrats and Republicans. That’s the irony of the situation, especially if they hold onto that she wrote it herself,” he said.

The Associated Press, citing a taped interview Melania Trump gave to NBC News ahead of her convention appearance, quotes her as saying she wrote the speech but “had a little help.”

Pear pointed out that this is not the first presidential campaign where speech similarities were noted by the press.

He referred to the 1988 presidential race when then-candidate Joe Biden was accused of picking up portions of other speeches.

Biden wound up withdrawing from the race.

Meanwhile, from his perspective, the contretemps is not going to be a deciding factor in the upcoming election, Pear said.

“The jury is still out for me, I’m still undecided,” he said.