View bloggers



Saint Paul University

223 Main Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1S 1C4


Toll free



Follow us

An Academic Issue is the First Instance of Trump Being Blocked

January 16, 2017

No longer do I have to make the case to my students that plagiarism is serious.  When one thinks about the rise of Trump—and all the standard ethical issues that he has simply, and successfully, brushed aside—it comes as a bit of a surprise that his first real roadblock has been a standard academic issue.  Then again, when you read Homer’s Iliad, would you really predict that the great warrior Achilles would be taken down by a bad heel? 

But plagiarism is not new to the Trump campaign.  As was well-publicized, at the Republican convention Melania Trump plagiarized one of Michelle Obama’s speeches.  True to form, Donald Trump even joked about it and the whole issue melted away. 

Perhaps one might brush this off as part of the general tradition in political speeches.  That is, even Barack Obama himself plagiarized one of his colleague’s speeches a number of years ago.  Some of Obama’s defenders stated that it wasn’t really plagiarism since Obama admitted that he had taken material from another politician’s speech.  However, Obama admitted this after people pointed out that he had taken the material.  We should note that admitting that one has taken material only after others notice it is still a form of plagiarism. 

So why did Monica Crowley’s plagiarism plight derail her aspiration to join the Trump team in the White House?  It might just be a case of quantity.  The amount that Crowley plagiarized is much larger, it seems, than that by Melania Trump and Barack Obama. 

But I suspect that it might be because of something else.  In the Melania Trump and Barack Obama cases, the plagiarism was within the context of speeches.  We all know that people who give speeches, in general, have speech writers.  And rarely, if ever, does the orator acknowledge the speech writer.  Comedians, too, often have writers—teams of them.  Moreover, how many times have you heard a joke a comedy club that you have heard elsewhere?  At a live performance comedians rarely, if ever, acknowledge this fact.  Finally, nobody thinks that the actors in a play write their own lines. 

But Crowley’s case is in the written context.  It was not her making a number of speeches, that is, performances, but her actual, written texts.  This kind of a product, a lasting, written text, seems to change all expectations of authenticity and, indeed honesty.  Perhaps this power of the written word and its link to honesty explains why Trump himself studiously avoids anything written. (Well, Twitter excepted.  But is Twitter really writing?)

Crowley’s candidacy’s collapse in the face of her violation of “textual honesty”, perhaps plagiarism in the purest sense of that term, could be seen as a testament to the power that the written word still possesses in some way, even in our age of fake news, the internet and Donald Trump.  


0 comment

Bookmark and Share


The views expressed in the posts and comments of this webpage are those of the bloggers and those providing comments and may not reflect the views of Saint Paul University.

Comments will be removed for the following reasons:

  1. Use profanity and offensive language;
  2. Include a personal attack towards another user;
  3. Harass or embarrass other users;
  4. Are an infringement on a copyright law or University policy;
  5. Advertise a specific commercial service;
  6. Include a threat of violence;
  7. Are not appropriate for all ages;
  8. Encourage intolerance toward a particular group;
  9. Are included numerous times in a single thread and;
  10. Knowingly mislead other users.