Dear heavens. Yesterday, Melania Trump announced her new "Be Best" initiative for kids. And in doing so, as part of the project, it was announced that she wrote a "Be Best" booklet, titled Talking with Kids About Being Online. One tiny problem, which a fellow named The Rude Pundit discovered: this booklet that Mrs. Trump has supposedly written on how to "Be Best" when talking to children about the Internet is almost entirely copied from a Federal Trade Commission publication from the Obama Administration! O the dripping irony on being your best. And teaching a lesson to children.
Then again, given how much Mrs. Trump seems to love plagiarizing All Things Obama, because of the high quality of the original material, Trump himself might want to take a hint from this!
Further, nowhere is it even mentioned that the material has appeared elsewhere before. The good news is that this takes attention away from how awful the slogan "Be Best" is. The bad news is -- oh, you've figured out the bad news about this already.
(Side note: making this all the Trumpian is that, while Mrs. Trump was setting her agenda to nurture "the most valuable and fragile among us -- our children," shortly after her speech Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave his own speech on immigration policy which included actually taking children away from their parents, if illegal immigrants. So, we know that the full Trump administration, plagiarizing wife included, is firmly behind this "Be Best" effort....)
But I digress. Back to total plagiarism.
To be clear, all the blame for this can't fall on Melania Trump. Obviously, it's hard to imagine too many people thinking she actually wrote the booklet. (Though "I didn't write it, my staff did, but I took credit for it" is never a great starting position. Of course, this is someone married to the man claiming to be the author of The Art of the Deal, and he didn't write a word. Though in fairness it's taken from his words -- although that's not writing.) Much of the blame falls on her staff that, once again, plagiarized on her behalf. And this time, egregiously and fully and pathetically. That said, Mrs. Trump doesn't get points for having no standards of responsibility, and surrounding herself with such people who can't be trusted. And so the result is that we end up with a totally plagiarized booklet, in a "Be Best" program for children. And not just merely "plagiarized," but outright theft to the point of copyright infringement if such a thing existed on government documents within an agency.
More to the point, it is also symptomatic of this administration. A massive lie that was absolutely unnecessary. They could have just released an existing FTC booklet to support the program. Or updated it. Or written something of their own!!! Alas, no, they went with the lie -- total, unabashed plagiarizing.
But seeing is not only believing (because I'm sure some of you think I'm exaggerating) -- but it also is far more galling when you see it. Because, to be clear, it's not that they're similar or even incredibly similar, but...they are the exact same. I mean, down to the same graphics.
Here below is one sample page side-to-side from both versions. The Obama FTC booklet is on the left, the "Trump edition" is on the right. And yes, I had to be careful to get them in the right order. (Yes, I know this is hard to read since the text is to small, but I wanted to first present the material is this Quick View. I have larger versions of the text below it so that you can read and compare. But the short version is: they are identical. Down to the graphics.
In fairness, this is just one page, and there are a few changes in the full, new "Trump edition." But "few" is the operative word. If you turned this into your teacher, you'd get an "F," sent to the teacher, and had your parents called in. If you were in a military college, you'd probably be kicked out.
Okay, as I said, that graphic above is too difficult to read easily. But seeing them side-by-side is important. So, here below first is the original booklet from the Obama FTC, in its "original English translation," followed by the "Trump edi..." sorry, I mean the plagiarized material.
And here below is the "Be Best" (sic) material put out by Melania Trump in her personal initiative that she has now taken on. And yes, this is real. Honest. No, your eyes don't need testing, it is not an optical illusion, and this is not a trick. The two are exactly the same.
I'm going to lie down now...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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