It's being argued that the Trump campaign is compounding the unforced error by denying the obvious. Campaign chief Paul Manafort blames Hillary Clinton ("This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down"). Chris Christie says the speech was only 7% plagiarized ("93 percent of the speech is completely different than Michelle Obama's speech").
But now it's not just the Trumpites. Sean Spicer of the Republican National Committee is arguing that you should disregard a sequence of exact or near-exact copies of sentences because similar sentiments have been expressed in vaguely similar words by others, including a "My Little Pony" character:
Watching RNC's Sean Spicer do damage control on Melania's alleged plagiarism is life-altering pic.twitter.com/endJKcPkVJ— Andrew Ramos (@AndrewRamosTV) July 19, 2016
The seemingly excessive Trump pushback seems like a mistake made by an overaggressive and inexperienced campaign. So why are seasoned pros at the RNC also joining in to compound the error?
I'm not sure, but it might work for them.
You know the classic definition of "chutzpah"? The kid who kills his parents and then asks the judge for mercy because he's an orphan?
This could be similar. If the story remains in the news cycle, Trumpites and party officials will later blame Democrats and the "liberal media" for keeping it in the headlines -- even though they're helping to keep it newsworthy by fighting so hard against it, rather than quietly issuing an acknowledgment of the error, then possibly firing a scapegoat or two late on a Friday afternoon. Something terrible will happen in the world soon, and Republicans will say something like: "Democrats care more about analyzing speeches made by Donald Trump's wife than they do about [global terrorism/murdered police officers/etc.]."
Of course, the blunder could just be so embarrassing that the story can't bounce that way. And, of course, Donald Trump could spend twenty minutes talking about this in his acceptance speech on Thursday, which will be so preposterous that he'll undermine any GOP pushback now. But Republicans are usually good at flooding the zone with messaging and thus controlling how issues are talked about, so this could work out for them -- although it would work out a lot better for them if their candidate wasn't a lunatic with impulse-control problems.