What should be an elevator to the upper class is stalled on the ground floor. Part of the fault for this may be laid at the feet of the system’s entrenched interests: the teachers’ unions and the higher-education professoriate. Our schools and universities are like the old Soviet department stores whose mission was to serve the interests of the sales clerks and not the customers.
Given that the Trump campaign spent most of the day Tuesday rebutting accusations that Melania Trump had duplicated passages from Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech, the duplication seemed particularly egregious. But that wasn't the full story.
First, there was this tweet from the author of the American Conservative piece.
This is what's sometimes known as "self-plagiarism," something that falls into a bit of an ethical gray area. There exist some guidelines to the practice, which acknowledge the subjectivity at stake. "Editors should use their discretion when deciding how much overlap of methods text is acceptable," the Committee on Publication Ethics writes, "considering factors such as whether authors have been transparent and stated that the methods have already been described in detail elsewhere and provided a citation." And so on. One 2015 paper analyzing the ethics of plagiarism would call this self-plagiarism "text recycling."
For clarification, let's use a real-world example. The author Jonah Lehrer nearly destroyed his own career when it was revealed that he had repurposed old material in a variety of ways. He was writing for media outlets that were paying him for original thoughts, and those outlets were not pleased with paying for used goods.
For Trump, the situation is a bit different, but not entirely. If Trump was paying Buckley, Trump would be justified in being similarly annoyed. Even if not, the attention drawn to the campaign by Melania Trump's speech makes this more problematic. Had Buckley realized that reusing his old metaphor might be newly sensitive, which he should have, it would bear mentioning to the principal.
As it did with the Melania incident, the Trump campaign quickly moved to blame Donald Trump's general-election opponent for raising questions.
Given that this originated with "The Daily Show," that's a stretch — a bit of making hay while the sun shines. (Note: That expression is not original to me.)
Regardless: Scandal sidestepped, at least for the Trumps. But there's still an interesting detail to note: The change between the essay's call for an elevator to the upper class and Trump's reminiscing for a time when the educational elevator got you a few floors lower.
Perhaps Trump, a regular at his father's Manhattan apartment tower, knows how few people get to ride the elevator all the way to the penthouse.