Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Laura Bush, Roslyn Carter, Michelle Obama. These are just a few of the names of women who have served as the First Lady of the United States. There are many, many more names to add to this list and they all have one thing in common. They performed their roles with dignity. Some First Ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson also played significant roles in both politics and government. Each First Lady usually adopts a cause she supports. For Roslyn Carter it was mental health. For Michelle Obama it was school nutrition.
Our current First Lady Melania Trump is none of these things. She is beautiful, but so was Jacqueline Kennedy, who also had class and a style of her own. Mrs. Kennedy’s project was the historic restoration of the White House. Melania Trump’s has chosen, without the least sense of irony, cyber bullying as her cause. The fact that she is married to a man who is quite possibly the worst cyber bully on the planet seems to be lost on her.
When JFK made a state visit to France, he jokingly referred to himself as “the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.” Donald Trump can claim he is the only president to have nude pictures of his wife on the internet. Granted, when she posed for those pictures without any clothing, or as we say down south “butt nekid” she did not know she would one day become the First Lady. But then, neither did any of the other women listed here, so that is a somewhat poor excuse. We are also still waiting for the proof, promised in the summer of 2015, that she is actually a legal immigrant here. One would think that with her husband making such a huge deal out of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. he could at least assure the American people that his wife is not one of them.
During the campaign, Melania was forced to remove from her personal website the claim that she had a degree (was it a master’s degree?) in architecture. In fact, she never finished college. She may be fluent in several languages, but that is not at all unusual for Europeans. Most of them speak at least two languages, and the educated and business people generally speak four or more.
Becoming part of the First Family can be a time of transition and difficulties for any family when Dad is elected president. If there are school-age children, as were the daughters of Barack and Michelle Obama, then they must change schools in the middle of the school year. The same was true for the Clinton’s daughter Chelsea and for Amy Carter as well. They all survived, as do millions of children each year who are uprooted due to job transfers or military postings. But not for Melania Trump. She and her son Barron remained in Trump Tower from January until May at a cost of millions of dollars for security. The New York City Police Department estimates that their costs alone range about $150,000 a day to provide security.
Her refusal to move to the White House is unprecedented in American history. The excuse given was that she didn’t want to disrupt her son’s school schedule. There were rumors that Barron was autistic and that the move would be traumatic for him. But he could easily have been home-schooled in the White House. And now that they have both moved to the White House and Barron seems none the worse for wear, that excuse wears pretty thin.
Certainly Melania never asked for any of this, and for that she deserves our sympathy. But she does not deserve our respect, any more than her husband does as president.