Tuesday 6 December 2016

Melania: Home alone in New York

The news that Melania Trump won't be moving to the White House has raised eyebrows, but our reporter argues it's the first sign she's no pushover

Published 23/11/2016 | 02:30

Homebird: Melania Trump will reportedly remain in New York until her 10-year-old son Barron finishes school before moving to Washington DC
Homebird: Melania Trump will reportedly remain in New York until her 10-year-old son Barron finishes school before moving to Washington DC
All that glitters: Melania at home in Trump Tower Photo: Twitter

Long distance relationships are never easy, and it's fair to say that there are few married couples out there that would willingly enter in to a life of Skype calls and sleeping alone. But that's just what's in store for the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife of 11 years, Melania, as she has decided to stay in her New York City home while her husband takes up residence in the White House once sworn in.

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Slovenian former supermodel Melania (46) has apparently made the decision to remain in Manhattan's Trump Tower out of concern for the couple's 10-year-old son Barron. The mother-of-one wants her son to finish out the school year at his $40,000-a-year private school on the city's Upper West Side. The story was reported by the 'New York Post' and confirmed by the president-elect, although he insinuated that his family may join him in the summer. The newspaper's anonymous source claimed that the campaign was difficult for the child and that his mother would like to keep disruption of his life to a minimum.

While that might sound fair enough as a parent, the move (or lack thereof) is quite unprecedented for a first lady in recent years. While not every president's wife has chosen to accept the title, many will frown on this stance. Trump spoke of uniting America in his acceptance speech, so one would expect his family to present the most united front possible.

It's said that Melania will still honour the duties of the office and travel to DC when required to. But Trump's impending presidency has already caused so much controversy that, from a PR perspective, this isn't good for Team Trump. But then, when has this family ever garnered positive PR?

This all comes after the Trumps visited the Obamas in Washington, where Michelle showed Melania around the presidential residence. According to the White House press office, the two women "also had a discussion about raising kids. Obviously the First Lady's two daughters spent their formative years of their childhood at the White House and Mrs Trump's son will also spend some important years of his childhood here. That's a rather unique childhood and the two women had an opportunity to talk about that experience and being a good parent through that experience".

Is it possible that the chat with Michelle put Melania off the idea entirely? Or was the opulent abode just not quite opulent enough for the woman who already lives in a gold-plated penthouse with one of the most coveted views on earth?

In one respect, I say fair play to Melania. If I was her, I wouldn't want to leave my multi-million dollar penthouse overlooking Central Park either. Life as a billionaire's wife in New York is very different to life in Washington DC married to a politician.

Judging by her pre-campaign tweets, Melania spent a lot of time before Donald's bid just enjoying her adopted home city - eating at the swanky Polo Club, bringing her son to M&M World in Times Square, taking in a New York Rangers ice hockey game and heading out on a Saturday night decked out in fur.

She also seems to adore her apartment, sharing many pictures of its unrivalled view of the Park. And of course she has a life there, friends and family and routine. She has said from the beginning of Trump's campaign that if she were to become first lady, she'd "be a mom first".

To take a very simplistic view, why should she have to up sticks and upset her son's life because her husband's work is taking him elsewhere? And isn't it refreshing that she's not just doing as she's told, but sticking to her guns?

Yet surely she realised that the prospect of her husband's presidency would change her life, and her son's, to a great degree. She encouraged Trump's ambition to be president and should have known what she was getting herself into.

To be a first lady and to live in the White House is seen as a huge honour, but at the same time, there are no rules regarding Melania's tenure - she can essentially do what she wants in the office, and what she appears to want is to be there for her young son.

Perhaps this news is just another indicator that nobody truly thought Trump could seal the deal and win the election - that Melania maybe hadn't truly considered all that comes with being married to the president. Now that the news has sunk in, she's looking at what's best for her son, the boy that stood beside his father as he made his victory speech looking like he was about to fall asleep standing up.

Others are wondering what this says about the Trumps' marriage, as the family unit has always been important to the American voter. After all, Hillary Clinton's own marriage was constantly called in to question during the campaign, with Trump's Democratic opponent frequently forced to defend her 41-year union to former president Bill in the wake of his sexual indiscretions while in office.

But it seems separation is nothing very new to the Trumps; Donald once famously told DJ Howard Stern that they have separate bathrooms and that he's never even heard her break wind, something he was thrilled to disclose. Despite Trump's often misogynistic comments, Melania doesn't seem to be under her husband's thumb and told '60 Minutes' last week that she lets him know when he's crossed the line.

"Yes, I tell him all the time," she said. "I think he hears me. But he will do what he wants to do in the end. He's an adult. He knows the consequences. And I give him my opinion. And he could do whatever he likes with it."

It's likely New Yorkers won't be best pleased with having the first lady live among them. Since Trump's victory, the area surrounding Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue has suffered huge traffic problems. Two of the five car lanes are closed and may remain so, and there are security cordons and bag checks in the vicinity. A separated first family is a potential logistical nightmare, meaning extra pressure on both the Secret Service and the NYPD.

Global security consultant Jim Reese told the 'Post': "That building is going to become the White House of New York. The Secret Service is going to have to keep that whole area cordoned off so that some wacko can't get close and detonate a car bomb."

They say marriage is about compromise, and give and take. Trump has, quite incredibly, achieved his own political goal to hold the highest office in the land, while Melania has decided on what's best for her and her son. The public might not like it, but many of Trump's detractors are far more preoccupied with his cabinet appointments and policies than where his wife lives.

It remains to be seen how his loyal followers will take the news, conservative and traditional as so many of them are. One thing is for sure; Melania Trump is already pointing out that she's no pushover.

Irish Independent

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