The Republican National Convention featured two separate plagiarism controversies. Part of Donald Trump Jr.’s speech was lifted from an American Conservative article, but it turned out the author of the article was also one of Trump Jr.’s speechwriters. More blatant, of course, was Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama.
Thursday morning, Trump Jr. alleged that plagiarism has occurred at the Democratic National Convention as well. Specifically, he accused President Obama of lifting a line from his RNC speech. But the only problem for Trump Jr. is that by his logic, he’s actually guilty of plagiarizing the president (and George W. Bush too).
Here’s the tweet in which Trump Jr. made his accusation:
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 28, 2016
The line in question is this: “That’s not the America I know.” Here’s the full context in which each used the line:
Trump Jr: There’s so much work to do. We will not accept the current state of our country because it’s too hard to change. That’s not the America I know. We’re going to unleash the creative spirit and energy of all Americans. We’re going to make our schools the best in the world for every single American of every single ethnicity and background.
Obama: What we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems, just the fanning of resentment and blame and anger and hate. And that is not the America I know. The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous.
So Trump Jr. used the line in the context of a passage about how bad America is right now. Obama, on the other hand, used it to contrast Trump’s dire view of the country with the sunnier vision of America he’s familiar with.
Beyond the difference in use is the fact Obama has used some variant of the “America I know” line on numerous occasions throughout his presidency. For instance, while talking about trickle-down economics during a 2010 speech in Cleveland, Obama said, “Instead of setting our sights higher, [Republicans are] asking us to settle for a status quo of stagnant growth and eroding competitiveness and a shrinking middle class… Cleveland, that is not the America I know. That is not the America we believe in.” As NBC News points out, Obama also used the line during a 2012 speech in Michigan, and then again as recently as earlier this month while memorializing the police officers in Dallas who were killed in the line of duty. And it’s not just an Obama thing — George W. Bush used “the America I know” too during the “Islam is Peace” speech he gave in the days following the September 11 attacks.
So to recap, Trump Jr. accused President Obama of plagiarism for using a line Obama’s used numerous times before — a line President George W. Bush also used. Given those facts, Trump Jr. shouldn’t be surprised that the outrage he’s seeking hasn’t materialized.