Even the Obama administration’s most vocal critics acknowledged that Michelle Obama largely remained a popular and positive figure: she supported her husband’s agenda, but largely used her personal prestige to boost campaigns with non-political themes. She made health and wellness issues a centerpiece of her tenure as First Lady, encouraging a nation, often struggling with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, to eat healthier, exercise more, and improve the nutritional quality of school lunches.
Needless to say, the media was infatuated with Michelle. She played a visible and public role in the Obama administration to great success, and national and international acclaim. So…why can’t Donald Trump take a page out of Obama’s playbook and do the same thing with the current First Lady? Is it merely because she is an immigrant whose first language is not English? Is it because Melania generally shuns the limelight, as the press often reports?
- Read More: Melaniagate: Was Trump’s Wife’s Plagiarism of Michelle Obama a Brilliant Publicity Stunt?
- Read More: The Peter Thiel Conundrum: How Can a Gay Immigrant Endorse Trump?
Such speculation as to her personal thinking aside, Melania Trump could be a huge asset to the Trump White House, and it is a shame that, thus far, the American public and the world know so little about her. I would venture to bet that a majority of the American public does not even know from what country she hails from…and if they could name Slovenia…would they be able to identify it on a map?
Having recently spent a week in this delightful former Yugoslavian republic, I can attest that in Slovenia, Melania Trump is generally considered in high regard, regardless of Slovenians opinions on the Trump presidency itself.
When the mainstream media plays up its narrative of Trump as an immigrant-hater and nativist, Trump would appear to have a quick comeback at his disposal: “Well, I married an immigrant didn’t I? We have the first First Lady in the history of the United States who is an immigrant and who is not a native English speaker.”
Why doesn’t Trump use Melania as more of an assett as he takes his case to the American people, and battles his traditional enemies: academia, the mainstream media, cultural elites, and the Washington establishment?
Is Melania an apolitical figure who has little interest in the machinations of the White House? This does not appear to be the case. As an article in Politico from this summer notes, “Trump, aides said, often speaks to his wife on the phone multiple times a day, calling her for advice and referencing her in conversations.” And close Trump associate Chris Ruddy of Newsmax, suggests, “I do think Donald listens to his wife and respects her opinions on things tremendously.”
Why, then, has Melanija Trump been such a non-factor in this administration? Why have her activities and interests and pursuits been visited so infrequently by the media? Why does the Trump White House itself appear to provide little coordination between the First Lady and the administration?
One might suggest that it is really Ivanka Trump who has assumed the First Lady role in a de facto sense. This may or may not be true, but it should not be a mitigating factor as Trump seeks to implement his legislative agenda as he butts heads with Congressional leadership of both parties.
Her speech at the RNC, allegations of copying from Michelle notwithstanding, was good. Her current approval ratings are better than Donald’s or Hillary Clinton’s. Even though the American public may know little about her, they like what they see.
Sadly, many on the left have helped to perpetuate stereotypes about non-native English speakers and immigrants through their ridicule of her. Take the comedian Chelsea Handler, for example, who ridiculed the First Lady, suggesting that “she can barely speak English.” In addition to being in poor taste, Handler’s aspersions were patently false. Melania Trump’s English is virtually flawless.
She also speaks an astonishing six languages fluently, if Handler bothered to do simple research: German, Italian, French, English, Slovene, and Serbo-Croat. Handler most likely speaks one language fluently, but it’s fine for Handler to mock Melania because Handler is part of the liberal cultural elite: say offensive and false things, and get a free pass on it. To the American Left and the mainstream media, Melania is just a model who ended up in the right place at the right time, and has nothing interesting to say.
Melania Trump could and should be a great asset to Trump, both nationally and internationally. Melania’s linguistic abilities were on display for all to see when she accompanied Trump to Italy and visited children in an intensive care unit at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome. Why didn’t we hear about this in the mainstream media?
The First Lady has a level of polish and sophistication that would make her an incredible asset for Trump’s foreign policy.
The United States is a land of immigrants…that much is not in doubt. It would be truly wonderful for Trump to have an incredibly successful immigrant, the First Lady of the United States no less, at his side, in the public eye, to expound upon the immigrant experience and combat the narrative that Trump is merely a xenophobic bigot who hates anyone south of the border.
Melania can stay above the fray and avoid the mud-slinging and personal attacks of partisan politics, while still providing a public image boost for the Trump administration.
Take immigration reform, for example. Melania Trump appears to be the perfect individual to promote a new narrative:
“We are proud that 20% of our nation is Latino, but we believe in the rule of law. We support legal immigration to the United States, and don’t want to reward those who broke the law, when there are millions of potential immigrants who play by the rules and commit considerable time and financial resources to emigrating to the United States.”
When it comes to the First Lady…it’s high time for Donald Trump to take a page out of Barack Obama’s playbook.