Did My Words Help Ann Romney Connect With Women At The Republican National Convention?

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In her speech last night, Ann Romney passionately claimed an ability to hear the voices of women around the nation. Is it possible, as she worked through the chatter of children, careers, and the background noise of everyday life, that she somehow picked up mine?

On August 13, 2012, I wrote a piece asking Paul Ryan to pay particular attention to the distinct and powerful voices of women around the country as he took a huge leap onto a national stage. Something about my post struck a chord, and it became the most popular essay I’ve ever written. Over 10,000 people read it, and hundreds more took the time to share their thoughts on my blog, via Facebook, and through texts and emails. As a fairly new writer trying to find my way through the daily ebb and flow of millions of words, I was happy to have written something that seemed to matter, even if only on a small scale.

Surrounded this morning by the same chatter of children, careers, and background noise of everyday life that Mrs. Romney successfully navigated to reach her target audience, I heard a brief clip of her speech on T.V. Something about it made me stop in the middle of a moment and pay closer attention, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the message that caught my ear. If there’s such a thing as peripheral hearing, mine kicked into gear, and I honed in on phrases that seemed eerily similar to those I recently wrote.

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“And the working moms who love their jobs, but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids…”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“As mothers and wives, we’re often the emotional backbone as well as a financial anchor for our families. What we earn in a paycheck we give back in time spent away from our children.”

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“It’s the moms of this nation, single, married, widowed, who really hold the country together.”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“We’re married, divorced, widowed, and single…We’re smart, dedicated, and we care about the future of our country.”

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“We’re the mothers. We’re the wives. We’re the grandmothers. We’re the big sisters. We’re the little sisters and we are the daughters.”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend.”

There’s a lot of heated dialogue floating around at the moment, from the corridors of our nation’s political leaders to the kitchen tables of family and friends. Within those conversations, important words like integrity, honesty, responsibility, and trust are repeated and consumed. When I write, and more importantly, when I read others’ work, those exact words are at the forefront of my mind.

I know Ann Romney didn’t write the speech she gave last night. When she delivered it, she looked like this:

082812_ConventionSpeech_011

Image via flickr.com.

When I write, I look like this:

Image via Stacie Chadwick.

But someone, more likely a team of people, wrote it, and if my words were recycled? I wasn’t at the table. If my work did in fact end up on some speechwriter’s desk and was repackaged into a pivotal piece of Mrs. Romney’s dialogue last night, I suppose I should feel flattered. I don’t. All that a writer has to offer the world is his or her voice, with the sole hope that someone will hear it and connect to a larger part of the lives we’re all trying our best to lead. If that gift is compromised, and a voice sanitized, it impacts everyone it touches, but no one more than the person who originally spoke.

I can’t substantiate my instinct any more than a woman can prove legitimate rape, but something about the cadence, tone, and word choice of the opening to Mrs. Romney’s speech feels too familiar. Last night, Mrs. Romney stated, “We’re too smart and know that there are no easy answers, but we’re not dumb enough to accept that there are not better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

You can read the transcript of Ann Romney’s speech at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/28/transcript-ann-romney-speech-at-republican-national-convention/#ixzz24x7M6cIK

You can read the letter I wrote to Paul Ryan at: i-said-id-never-write-about-politics-but-i-know-paul-ryan-and-ive-got-some-advice

52 responses »

    • You’re right, the ideas are universal. I thought about that as I read (and re-read, and watched the speech on Youtube) the similarities. The phrasing and words are too hard for me to ignore though, and I decided to write this after a few people contacted me this morning with the same thoughts. Either way, plagiarism is not cool.

      • You’re right. I didn’t read or watch Mrs. Romney’s speech, but it is not cool if they lifted stuff from your write-up.
        Also, if they did copy you, they really messed up by not ascribing it to you—not just because it’s the right thing to do—because it would look great for the GOP if the speech actually came from a mom+wife+sister who’s not a coastal liberal. They could have milked it from now through November. (See, I’m still a cynic.)

      • Haha! Thanks Stacie! But I must confess, I’m going through a kind of writer’s block. Every time I sit down to write something, my annoying inner voice tells me I’m no good. So, I hope I don’t disappoint your readers before I get over this all-consuming gloom.

      • You’re a very talented writer, but even so, it won’t matter once word gets out that you’re on my blogroll. You’ll be able to write your posts on the backs of $100 bills. =)

  1. I didn’t watch the Romney speech at all. But here in your re-cap, I find it interesting that she omitted “divorced” from her ‘moms’ list of adjectives. Can’t help but think that in her mind/marketing strategy, that word, even in this day of 50/50 marriage success, is still equated with “failure” or “shame” or something less honorable, in any case, than never marrying or having your husband die.

    • As always, you make in incredibly valid point, Laura. My parents divorced when I was two. I never felt ashamed of that fact growing up, because no on ever told me to. Today, I’m happy to have a wider net of relatives for myself and my children due to the blended families that both my husband and I come from. Thanks for the comment. Looking forward to your next post….

  2. An interesting thought, for sure. I’m suspect their speech writers troll the blogosphere just like everyone else, and your post would have been noticeable as it was so timely with Paul Ryan’s VP nod. Well, if it was the case, consider it a validation of your writing and insights. 🙂

    • Jed,

      I didn’t think, from your gravatar pic, that your hair was as long as mine. =p

      Thanks for the congrats. The Paul Ryan feedback was interesting, but in the big picture it’s really a small piece of the pie. Maybe a small piece of the crust, actually.

      I’ll check out your giveaway. Any link that contains the words “super” and “bowl” used together automatically piques my interest.

      Hope you are well,
      Stacie

  3. I’ve had a couple pieces like that (on a lesser scale), where someone leaves a link and says, “Hey, _____ ripped you off!” and there’s some article that’s really really really similar to something I wrote. I try to believe it’s coincidence. I try to.

    • In writing this post, I’m hopeful I don’t sound like an egotistical nut job. The theme I wrote about in the Paul Ryan piece was pretty universal. The phrasing, however, was kind of not. It was others contacting me about the similarities (like you mention below) that gave my hunch a few teeth. IF that post inspired any parallel thoughts, it’d be nice to hear about it, even if it’s from a low level intern who’s pretty much been handing out flyers to wayward strippers on the mean streets of Tampa all day long.

      P.S. It wasn’t me you caught stealing your stuff was it? =p

      • No, not you… not that I know of… it was some Australian news site (Twice! That’s weird, right?), and Chuck Klosterman just published something online very, very similar, but that one I’m confident is a coincidence.

      • Chuck Klosterman? That’s kind of cool, especially if it was just a coincidence. Then you’d be channeling the voice (or vice-versa) of an American pop culture phenom.

        I was just joking about stealing from you. I’d only try to steal something expensive and shiny, and then only if no one was looking. =)

  4. Wowww… Could be Stacie, could be… What a coincidence these parallels!

    My politics are outer limits, but I do know people with different points of view and enjoy hearing about them.

    I worked with a real right wing Republican years ago, we were quite a team. Haven’t seen her in years but she always gives me good references and we just became fb friends. I went to her wedding — the only black person there (tee hee). Though I didn’t agree with her politics, because I’m such an outer limits kind of a gal, I could root for her in a debate against a democrat on television. I was like “Yayy! There’s my friend Cathy, winning the debate — yayy!” I know, I’m weird like that. We were like James Carville and his wife — democrat and republican happily married working for opposite teams.

    Frankly I don’t like talking about politics often because I’d like to see the whole economic structure dismantled. And it’s too wild an idea to discuss in general company. I ain’t excited about any of the candidates.

    • You’re in the majority, Sandee. Not that I’m a political junkie, but one thing I’ve noticed this year compared to four years ago is the lack of interest in anyone, just as you state above. Last year there seemed to be a sign in every-other yard and a bumper sticker to match. This year? Crickets.

      I think I’m done with politics for now. At least, probably. I mean maybe. I reserve the right to flip-flop though and completely change my mind, just like everyone running for office.

      Great to see you here, SCB!

      • And before you girls get too “oh this is too awful, let’s talk about something else”, dwell on the fact that the GOP just voted to outlaw abortion. On that basis alone, women across America should be handing out Obama yard signs, not just putting them up.

    • Wendy,

      Thank you for loving me through your hate of politics. I have an entirely non-political post for tomorrow that I think you’ll like. I’ll be back tonight to check out yours.
      xoxo

  5. Hmmm… really hard to say Stacey. Interesting coincidence “n’est-ce pas”? What are the rules of engagement in bloging? Once you put your words out there, they become public property? I would understand if you catch a postgrad lifting an entire paragraph from a blog and dropping it as is into his or her thesis. But this is a much finer level… again, not sure… the speechwriters are certainly smart enough to modify lifted content in such a way that you can’t prove palgiarism, but still the coincidence is intriguing.. I guess you and Madame Romney are such soul mates that she was just channeling you, right? (Not!).

    • Right. I’d like to see Mrs. Romney take a run apprenticing on Le Clown’s blog, just for fun. Somehow I think our differences would shine in that venue. =)

      Your uncertainty about the similarities between her speech and my post are warranted. People “borrow” words and repackage them all the time, often without incident or issue. One of the things that bothers me in this case though, is the amount of time I took to craft my message. I endeavored to write a post that would appeal to women (and men) in a non-partisan manner, and it took draft after draft of writing and editing to get there. I’m sure speechwriters go through a similar process, but that we would both reach a point and tone that shared many markers is disturbing to me.

      Either way, my next post is going to be something completely ridiculous and non-political. Like how much I miss my 80s tan…”Ode to an 80s Tan” or something along those lines. If you hear Ann Romney talking about how much she wishes she could still use Sun-In, you heard it here first.

      Thanks for the comment Phillipe. I’m always happy to see you hear.

  6. Stac,
    You have captured the country with your “Paul” blog and you know that I agree with a couple of your responders. Feel proud that your comments might have prompted the world to hear your very timely thoughts through Mrs. Romney’s speech…….thoughts that will impact bright/intelligent/busy/dedicated moms around the nation….much like you. That was your purpose in writing the blog and you hit a homerun. How you influenced the Romney campaign might never be known….but some 10,000 readers know you give great thought and consideration to very important issues. Condoleezza is speaking right now and she would agree with all you said! Paul might hire you to write his speeches…..we’ll see in a few minutes as he takes the stage tonight! The end results could be indescribable!! Have to love you more than ever!!
    Mom

  7. And what was most obnoxious was that this was coming from a party that doesn’t really believe in Equal Pay, which is one thing that really WOULD help working mothers. If you think your blog was plaigirised, Stacie, say so – contact some the bigger blogs and ask them to run today’s piece. Send a press release to major news outlets. “Ann Romney stole my article” should see you picked up tout de suite. Then hold on for the ride …

  8. That cow. Off with her head.

    Personally, all I hear is buzzing whenever these republican stepford Fatima’s start yammering. Especially about the strength and needs of women. This is a women who supports taking away my right to control my own body, and all manner of other idiocy. Buzzzzz buzzzzz.. Just like every politician, she’ll spew a bunch of platitudes and complacencies geared to make us feel respected and listened to, and then she’ll back off and smile blankly while her husband ruins our lives. Buzzzzzz buzzz

      • Any politics is (are?) nauseating since I got stuck being a grown up. As a kid I could imagine its an adult game I’ll never be affected by. Ha! Famous last words.

        You should pursue the plagiarism angle.

      • I would if I had something more concrete. You could look at what I wrote about women in a broad sense, the theme is universal and easily picked up on all over. The phrasing and tone of her speech, however, wasn’t. That haven’t been said, no one would really pick up the similarities like me, because I worked and shaped that piece over and over to get it where I wanted it to be. Either way, I think I said it better. =)

      • well, yeah, duh. Of course you did! I get the impression you’re on on the right side of the argument. Therein lies the difference. 😉

  9. Two points, my most uber talented Blogging Bestie:

    1) This just supports that fact that you are a real, genuine writer! It’s a shame that the GOP had to plagiarize your words instead of the Democrats, but still. It’s a compliment to you and your talents. It also means that Obama should consider hiring you to be one of his speech writers!!!!

    2) I’m astounded by the fact that the words sounded so intelligent when I read them on your website, but so vapid when coming out of Ann Romney’s mouth. It takes a lot of stupid to make something so smart so annoying. Remind me again why Ann Romney was supposed to be Mitt’s “secret weapon.” I thought I was supposed to like him after I heard her speak. Instead, I changed the channel because my shoulders were tired from cringing so many times in a row.

    Thanks again for all the support today! xo CCL

  10. First of all, your mom is awesome.
    Second, congrats on striking such a cord with your post. I could take the stance that the similarities were mere coincidence, but I think it is probable, given your connection with Mr. Ryan, the timing of your post and the size of the audience, that someone in that camp stumbled upon it. In a sense it is a huge compliment, but I find myself wishing that instead of just using the points in a speech, they would use the points in policy. And of course pay you for them.

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