Melania Trump: Donald Trump 'is not racist'
Melania Trump Is Not Your Friend
This piece was originally published on September 1, 2019. We’re republishing it now after Melania Trump's unannounced visit to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to meet children held at detention centers on the Mexico-U.S. border. The First Lady chose to wear a jacket with a message printed on the back: "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"
In the end, it was the shoes that did it.
I should have begun to despise Melania Trump a long time before that.
God knows there were enough reasons to.
There was the time when the Jewish journalist Julia Loffe was sent Neo-Nazi death threats over her profile of Melania and Melania, while saying she did not agree with the conduct of her fans, claimed that “[Loffe] provoked them.” Before that, she went along with her husband on the absurd claim that Barack Obama might not be American. She labeled the numerous women who claimed her husband groped them as liars. She helped Trump get out of any repercussions for his “grab him by the pussy” speech by claiming that he had merely been “egged on” by Billy Bush.
She’s a bad person.
These are the actions of a not-good person.
In spite of this, there were still plenty of people who felt a need to protect her. Some even felt she was, perhaps, somehow, on their side. Remember that #FreeMelania hashtag? Or the delight on social media as she slapped her husband’s hand away?
No doubt that was because there were plenty of reasons to feel tremendous pity for Melania, too. First and foremost, Donald Trump does not seem like an easy man to be married to. She did not seem like a woman who wanted to be First Lady. She looked grim as she was escorted into the White House by the Obamas, not her husband. She made a lot of . She batted Donald Trump’s hand away—without, notably, batting any of his ideas away publicly. Her situation seemed like one that was horribly lonely. A report fromVanity Fairstood out to me:A visitor to one of Trump’s homes, late into Melania’s pregnancy, recalls [Donald Trump] remarking that he agreed to the baby on the condition that Melania would get her body back. “She promised him that everything would go back to the way it was,” says this guest; it struck this person as a “contract.” And he was simply rude to her. “There was no ‘How do you feel?’ No opening of doors, making sure she didn’t fall. Just ‘You wanted to have a baby.’ ”
(Melania's spokesperson denies this account, saying that Donald Trump was “very warm and supportive throughout her pregnancy.”)
Even if Melania grew up in a culture that trained her to be dead set upon marrying a rich man, surely there were nicer rich men she could have married.
She’s pitiable. That said, I also pity Dracula because he can’t watch a sunrise. He’s still a monster.
She’s also a terrible First Lady.
Not only does she sit passively by while her husband enacts some truly offensive policies, she makes very few contributions of her own. That platform against cyber bullying she was going to enact? Well, it’s a “work in progress.” It is certainly not beginning at home to curtail Trump's bullying. She’s had scheduling miscommunications that have caused her to miss meetings, and her desire to remain at the Trump Tower rather than move into the White House supposedly cost taxpayers approximately a million dollars a week.
If anything, her actions, and the actions of much of the Trump administration only have the effect of making it clear how much better past administrations were. That’s true with Melania as well as Donald himself. Melania’s awkward attempt at reading to sick children only serves to bring to mind former librarian Laura Bush’s committed efforts to turn the world’s attention to literacy. Her decision not to move into the White House immediately makes students of history recall Jackie Kennedy’s profound vision for the house, which lead to the creation of The White House Historical Association “to enhance understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the historic White House.” The Trump’s refusal to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner brings to mind Nancy Reagan’s genuinely funny, self aware response to critics at the Gridiron Dinner:
And when Melania's speech plagiarizes Michelle Obama, well, that brings to mind Michelle Obama.
If her job is to do anything, it is seemingly to provide good optics that make her husband and his regime seem more palatable. For his followers, it also means giving the impression that we are returning to an age of American greatness. As far as I can tell, Trump’s followers think it is a kind of Main Street USA version of the 1950’s when women wore a lot of pretty dresses. That means that Melania will mostly stay quiet and dress beautifully and host the occasional luncheon. This is perhaps not the role you or I would hope for from a woman in the 21st century, but it’s not a surprising one coming from an administration that likes their staff to “dress like women” and a President who considers 35 to be “checkout time for women”.
AND THEN SHE WORE THOSE STUPID SHOES.
Specifically, she wore a ,000 pair of what appeared to be Manolo Blahnik shoes onto a plane as she and Trump set off to visit the people in Hurricane ravaged Texas. This was at a time as the news was bombarded with pictures of residents of nursing homes waist-deep in water, and evacuees carrying their pets to safety.
Melania’s team whimpered that “It's sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes.”
Again—her role has largely been to provide pleasant optics. Should we be instead worried about the nuances of her moving speech on the topic? If Melania communicates at all, it is through her clothing. And those shoes, whether or not she changed into a sparkling white pair of sneakers afterwards, send an appalling message.
It sends a message that she is not going to get her feet dirty.
Seeing her in those shoes brought to mind another wife of a powerful man, one who actually lived in the times that Trump supporters seem to feel was terrific. It brought to mind Queen Elizabeth, the wife of George VI, who may more commonly be known as the Queen Mother. She was not remembered for being fashionable. She was a woman who was thrust, very unexpectedly, into the position of being Queen when George’s elder brother Edward abdicated the throne to run off with the (very fashionable) divorcee Wallis Simpson.
"It sends a message that she is not going to get her feet dirty."
As it turned out, the Queen Mother did not need to be fashionable. When the Luftwaffe was bombing the hell out of the East End of London during the War Years, she made endless visits to comfort the citizens that had been struck. She waded through the rubble despite the possibility of stepping on unexploded devices. You can say that she filled a merely ceremonial position, but ceremonial positions can carry with them great meaning. There are still people today who will remember the Queen mother walking through the wreckage to see them and taking comfort in it. Certainly, they will remember that, when Buckingham Palace was bombed by the Nazis, the picture of her standing next to her destroyed home and declaring, “I am glad we have been bombed. Now we can look the East End in the eye."
Melania’s heels made it clear that she had no intention of getting anywhere near any wreckage.
This business of being First Lady, is not, to her, a job of servitude. It is a position where she gets to teeter high above the common masses. It is the embodiment of the kind of elitism that Trump supporter’s pretended to decry. They are the heels of a woman who has no interest in doing the actual unpleasant and arduous work that a better woman would feel was her duty.
Texas deserves better. We deserve better.
And while Melania may deserve a better husband than Trump, that doesn’t mean that she’s on your side.
Video: A preview of Ainsley Earhardt's interview with Melania Trump
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