Saturday 23 September 2017

Comment: Melania Trump isn't the innocent bystander we think she is

First Lady Melania Trump arrives to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
First Lady Melania Trump arrives to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on February 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump arrive at his "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife and the Trump family, attend the Freedom Ball in honor of his inauguration in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump's wife Melania Trump adjusts their son Barron's tie during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump descend the stairs to review troops on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. REUTERS/Michael Heiman/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump arrive at his "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. President Donald Trump introduces his wife, first lady Melania Trump, as they arrive at the Inauguration Freedom Ball in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and first lady Melania Trump thank guests during the inaugural Armed Forces Ball at the National Building Museum January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. The ball is part of the celebrations following Trump's inauguration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch the Palm Beach Central High School marching band perform as it greets them upon arrival to watch the Super Bowl at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Freedom Ball at the Washington DC Convention Center following Donald Trump's inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump address the Freedom Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. President Trump was sworn today as the 45th U.S. President. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive to a VIP reception and dinner with donors, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President-elect of The United States Donald J. Trump and first lady-elect of The United States Melania Trump arrive at the "Make America Great Again Welcome Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial in January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
President-elect of The United States Donald J. Trump and first Lady-elect Melania Trump arrive at Joint Base Andrews the day before his swearing in January 19, 2017 in Maryland.
Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his wife Melania Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Melania Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign event November 3, 2016
One lump or two? Melania Trump and Michelle Obama met for tea in the White House in the days following Donald Trump's election victory Photo: Chuck Kennedy/The White House
First Lady Melania Trump welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump as he arrives at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

There are a lot of misconceptions about Melania Trump - most of which we can't debunk or investigate further because she doesn't make herself available to the media.

Not before her husband became President of the United States and certainly not now in her role as US First Lady.

Unlike Trump's White House administration which has more leaks than a sieve, Melania's inner circle know when to keep their mouths shut. In the weeks since the inauguration, she has shared virtually no information about her intentions for her new role, she hasn't shared any of her official causes and quite frankly, no one knows what she's been doing except for a weekend in Mar-a-Lago.

"I am putting together a professional and highly experienced team, which will take time to do properly," she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

During her husband's campaign, she was largely depicted as little more than a trophy wife, a silent supporter miserably following her husband, a characterisation which has been almost unquestionably embraced by Trump critics and supporters alike.

She rarely joined her husband at rallies and made a minimal amount of appearances in his bid for the White House. Similar to their pre-election life, she preferred to live out of the spotlight and and was instead holed up in her $100m triplex in Trump Tower, which came to be seen as her gilded cage.

For many, she has yet tor reach the role model status automatically assigned to her predecessors, nor does it seem she has any intention to follow in their footsteps.

She has become the most sympathetic First Lady in modern memory, all thanks to a few gifs capturing snapshots of her behaviour on Inauguration Day. Unlike her husband, she wasn't a figured to be feared or mocked, she was to be pitied.

Instead of supporting his divisive and often xenophobic rhetoric, she stayed quiet and never commented on his comments against Mexicans, addressed the irony of his anti-immigration stance despite her emigrating to the US from Slovenia in 1996 or his mocking of a disabled reporter early on the campaign trails.

She gave just one interview supporting her husband after more than a dozen women came forward accusing him of sexual assault, saying it came as a "surprise" and urged background checks for the women.

She seems to take pride in her privacy, wearing her desire to show to little no public personality as a badge of honour.

In a 2016 GQ profile, she said "no one will ever know" her political views - a statement she seems oddly proud of, despite the fact that it indicates we should expect no personal passions or causes close to her heart to be pursued during her time in the White House.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch the Palm Beach Central High School marching band perform as it greets them upon arrival to watch the Super Bowl at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch the Palm Beach Central High School marching band perform as it greets them upon arrival to watch the Super Bowl at Trump International Golf Club Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Hers is the face that launched 1,000 memes and gifs all related to her perceived misery, but one hashtag which refuses to go away - #FreeMelania.

During Inauguration Day, pictures of a perpetually sad looking Melania flooded social media and returned on Super Bowl Sunday after husband was pictured ignoring her at a celebratory dinner they hosted at Mar-a-Lago.

This photo of Melania Trump watching the Super Bowl has #FreeMelania trending again. Image: Twitter
This photo of Melania Trump watching the Super Bowl has #FreeMelania trending again. Image: Twitter

Public sympathy seems to have reached fever pitch for 'poor Melania' in the early weeks of Trump's presidency, but just as quickly as the tide changed in her favour, a clip from 2011 emerged of her repeating her husband's rhetoric nearly verbatim.

In an interview with Joy Behar, Melania, then described with only the tagline 'Married to The Donald', echoed her husband's claims that former President Obama was not born in the US, proving she does agree with her husband's way of thinking or she has one hell of a poker face.

US President Donald Trump tells the crowd he loves them while dancing with US first lady Melania Trump during the Freedom Ball January 20, 2017
US President Donald Trump tells the crowd he loves them while dancing with US first lady Melania Trump during the Freedom Ball January 20, 2017

"Do you want to see President Obama's birth certificate or no? In one way, it would be very easy if President Obama just show it because it's not only Donald who wants to see it - it's American people who vote for him and who didn't vote for him," she told Joy Behar.

It was one of the only interviews she's ever given. In the two years her husband campaigned, she gave only a handful of interviews - most notably, an in-depth profile with GQ and a sit-down with Anderson Cooper on CNN after tapes of her husband bragging about "grabbing women by the p***y" were leaked.

In the former, she slammed the magazine's extensive profile on her, which included information about her father and family life in her native Slovenia, labelling the piece as "yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting", which sounds like her way of saying "FAKE NEWS!" via press release.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on February 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on February 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGANMANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

In the latter, she said her husband was "egged on" to take part in "boy talk", adding: "The boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, 'Oh, this and that' and talking about the girls."

Should Melania be feared in the same manner as her husband? She hasn't given us any reason to believe so, but perhaps more worryingly is that she hasn't given a reason not to either - she has made no effort to distance herself from her husband's ideology, there has been no public defence of women's rights or immigration; her Twitter account, which Donald cherishes, has only been used once, to say she is "deeply honoured to serve this wonderful country as First Lady.

That was on January 21.

Melania has maintained virtual radio silence, which is no easy feat when you're married to the most talked about man in the world.

She has shown little to no enthusiasm for her role as First Lady, choosing to live in Trump Tower with her son at huge expense to the American taxpayer, and only appointed a Chief of Staff earlier this month in a bid to silence reports she had no intention of ever moving to the White House and assume her new role full-time.

Which is all the more jarring that she would choose to continue with her libel suit against the Daily Mail for running a false story claiming she once worked as an escort. The story has since been retracted and her decision to sue in the name of her reputation should come as no surprise - what should inspire shock though is her motivation.

In the papers lodged, her lawyers claim that Melania has been stiffed the potential "multiple millions of dollars" and "major business opportunities" she would have acquired during her term as First Lady and it appears that we are seeing the 'real' Melania for the first time.

According to the suit, Melania "had the unique, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson, and a successful business woman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during with Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world."

The moral of the story is that Melania is no innocent victim in this narrative, she is a very willing participant motivated by the one factor uniting the entire Trump clan - money.

First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) attend the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) attend the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

While the rest of the Trumps have insisted on the maintenance of a Chinese wall between the president's personal businesses and executive duties, we could at least commend Melania for being entirely transparent for her desire to cash in as much as possible with her newly elevated status.

And we are all the fools for helping her build her empire.

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