Donald Trump, Melania Trump.
Dahleen Glanton, Tribune News Service
Melania Trump never found her voice as First Lady. For four years, she could not distinguish herself as anything other than Donald Trump’s wife.
Like her husband, she didn’t care for White House traditions. She performed her duties, including decorating for Christmas, begrudgingly. She promoted her own initiative, “Be Best,” half-heartedly and ineffectively.
Prior to leaving the White House on Wednesday, she again broke protocol by refusing to meet with the incoming first lady. The unofficial obligation has long been considered a ritual of the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next.
Melania Trump decided to stand by her man, as she always has.
She did not invite Jill Biden for tea and a tour of the White House living quarters as Michelle Obama did for her and as every outgoing first lady has done for decades.
Neither she nor Donald Trump attended President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, signalling that it is not just her husband who thinks the election was stolen from him, but maybe she believes it too.
No one expected her to publicly criticize her husband’s controversial actions during his presidency. It is unlikely any first lady would go that far. But simply greeting the Bidens in the doorway of their new home would have been viewed as gracious.
She left town early with her husband, who is still sulking over his defeat. So there were no gifts exchanged, no well wishes or promise to be only a phone call away if the new first lady needs anything.
Melania and Donald Trump are one and the same. She has never pretended to be anything else.
“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him. I support him,” she said in a secretly recorded conversation in 2018 with a former friend and senior adviser.
In that conversation, she complained about decorating the White House for Christmas. She blamed Barack Obama for her husband’s policy of caging migrant children at the border, as if were taken from the script that Donald Trump wrote.
She never fully embraced her role as first lady. She seemed uncomfortable in the spotlight, where she would be judged on her own merits. However, she occasionally made superficial moves that suggested she understood the damage her husband had caused.
She was praised for her calming call for peace during last summer’s civil unrest and for acknowledging the nation’s flawed racial history. But her track record on race is contradictory.
During Obama’s presidential campaign in 2011, she helped her husband spread the birtherism lie that he was born in Kenya.
The first lady said goodbye to America in a video posted Monday on Twitter. Her words were guarded and scripted. And as her husband is prone to do, she exaggerated her accomplishments as if no one knew the truth.
“In a few short years, I have raised awareness of how to keep children safe online,” she said. “We have made incredible progress on our nation’s drug epidemic and how it impacts the lives of newborns and families. And we have given a voice to our most vulnerable children in the foster care system.” Most of us aren’t buying it. She leaves the White House with the worst approval rating of any first lady in polling history.
According to a new CNN poll, 47% of people view the first lady unfavourably, compared with 42% who view her favourably. The remainder said they are unsure of their feelings about her. Michelle Obama left with a 69% approval rating. Laura Bush left with 67% and Hillary Clinton had a 56% rating when she left the White House.
Melania Trump says that she is the same as her husband. So, if he is considered the worst president in modern history, then she is the worst first lady.
Jill’s appearance on the magazine cover sparked a debate between Trump supporters and supporters of Joe Biden.
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