First Lady on her own mission: She is America’s “Marie Antoinette”: How powerful Melania Trump is
Melania Trump is an unusual first wife. She hardly gives interviews and doesn’t like speaking in front of an audience. But she is not the victim – much more a close accomplice of her husband who consciously supports his racism and misogyny.
- Melania Trump is making up ground for Donald, but is also going her own way
- An unusual first lady – not born in the USA, her mother tongue is English and a lingerie model
- In the Corona crisis she was nicknamed “Marie Antoinette”
It’s a scene that goes around the world. How Melania and Donald Trump step out of the presidential jet, walk down the stairs side by side, how he takes her hand and she pulls it away, fingers his hand for hers again, but she turns away from him.
After four years, it is this scene that comes to mind when many people think of Melania Trump. She says so little about herself. Because maybe Melania Trump just wanted to straighten her dress in the wind and did not consciously avoid her husband’s hand. Or this little gesture actually says a lot about the First Lady, about whom even after four years so little is known, and therefore pays attention to every little detail in order to infer her inner life.
Melania Trump: an unusual first lady
Melania Trump is an unusual first wife. She is the first first lady in 200 years to be born outside the United States, the only one whose mother tongue is not English, and yet she is probably the most gifted of languages, as she supposedly speaks five languages. Melania Trump is also the only first lady who was previously a lingerie model.
Not only is her résumé unusual, the execution of her office is also unusual. She rarely speaks in public, avoids making official speeches, and gives next to no interviews. She is often criticized for her sparse public relations work, accused of standing for nothing and having no connection with the people.
She is America’s “Marie Antoinette”
During the Corona crisis, she was nicknamed “Marie Antoinette”. Because she posted a photo of herself on Twitter, inspecting the construction of a tennis pavilion while the corona virus is spreading explosively in the United States. And while millions of Americans become unemployed, contract Covid or lose loved ones, she is planning a new design for the rose garden.
And the attacks on them are probably also the result of their own reluctance, which leaves so much room for criticism and speculation.
Melania Trump more popular than Donald
And so the simplest answer to the question of who Melania Trump really is is that she is a little naive, a little victim, but also the perfect counterpart to President Trump. The way models are: They look good in photos, but it’s not their job to say something. Your emotions and thoughts can safely be left to the public imagination, they are the perfect accessory for men like Donald Trump, who may be a bit misogynistic, but at least successful.
But that would be too short-sighted, because Melania Trump is more than just the appendage of Donald Trump. This is shown by their popularity ratings. According to a survey, Melania Trump has increased her popularity enormously since her husband took office. She is the most popular member of the Trump family, way ahead of her husband. 51 percent have a positive image of her, her husband only got 44.
Part of Trump’s campaign strategy
And so Donald Trump’s advisors quickly recognized their value for his political career. While he has difficulties in winning over women, especially from the American suburbs, because they despise him as lacking in empathy and misogyny, Melania is much more popular with these voters. “One of the roles that women have in Trump’s closest circle is to tone down his harsh messages in public,” says Nina Burleigh, author of The Trump Women: Part of the Deal.
It’s all a strategy, says Burleigh. After all, there are still areas in America where the wife is expected to vote like her husband. And a silent, handsome appearance by the side of the president is exactly what people want to see.
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Melania Trump goes her own way
But what may look to some like Melania Trump is making up ground for her husband, to others it looks like she is going her own way.
Her first solo trip abroad as First Lady went to Africa, of all places. The continent whose countries her husband described very undiplomatically as “Shithole Countries”.
And at the beginning of April, when 2,000 people died of Covid-19 every day in the USA, she posted a photo of herself wearing mouth and nose protection and called on her compatriots to do the same. All while her husband refused to wear a mask. “She has power,” says author Burleigh. “And I think she uses that power whenever she wants.”
And maybe Melania Trump simply has a more modern view of her role than many of her critics. The expectation in 2020 that every woman will happily give up her previous life to be the wife of the president, always ready for the next charity event, can at least be called questionable.
Still, it’s easier to see Melania Trump as the suffering wife; as a victim, trapped in her marriage and role as first lady. Hashtag: #FreeMelania. Because the alternative would be for her to be less of Trump’s accessory than his accomplice. And that she willingly supports his racism and downplays the various allegations of sexual assault against him against her better knowledge. But this explanation is of course much more uncomfortable, because it would mean that Melania Trump is loyal to her husband not out of fear, but out of sincere admiration.
“I know who I married”
There is a passage in the latest disclosure book about her that suggests exactly that. Her former closest friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, writes that Melania Trump reacted indifferently to both Donald Trump’s infidelity rumors and allegations of sexual assault. “He is who he is,” she is supposed to have said. “I know who I married.”
She openly admitted that she knows all sides of her husband – and accepts. From his philandering mentality to his pathological lying to his sharp racism. And there are various indications that she even shares them.
Melania Trump spreads conspiracy theory
For example, when she fueled the racist “Birther” conspiracy theory around President Barack Obama’s birth certificate on a talk show in 2011. She, of all people, a former migrant who even worked illegally in the USA for a while, making it a prime example of Trump’s propaganda of “job-stealing illegal immigrants”.
Or when a video of her husband surfaced in 2016 in which he bragged about having committed criminal sexual assault on women – and Melania Trump dismissed it as “boys chatter”. In addition, she even goes over to the classic victim accusation, in which she says about the women who accused her husband: “Has anyone ever checked the history of these women?”
Donald Trump needs his wife
The revelation books that were written about Melania Trump have one thing in common: They paint a very different picture of the first lady than that of the reserved, passive or helpless woman, trapped at the side of an untamed man. The Washington Post instead describes Melania Trump as an independent force, aware of her power and with “similar personal ambitions as (Donald) Trump.”
She consciously used this power at the beginning of his first term in office when a sharp wind blew her husband in Washington, shaken by various allegations of infidelity and assault. He needed her by his side to convey the image of a stable marriage. But she took her time and did not move into the White House for the time being to take care of her son Barron by her own account. In fact, the author of the book “The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump” names another reason: Melania Trump knew that her husband needed her to be successful as president, and so she had her new power deliberately used to renegotiate her marriage contract.
“Melania really doesn’t care what others think of her”
The truth arguably lies somewhere between these extremes. Melania Trump may not be a victim, but she may not be a driving agitator in the White House either. Maybe she is Melania Trump, who fulfills her role as first lady as she sees fit. Your last major appearance at the Republican Congress suggests that. When her important speech is due and it is announced that her husband, the President will escort her to the lectern. And when the door opens and she comes alone, without Trump’s hand, and makes this moment hers, not her husband’s.
Her former best friend once said of her: “Melania really doesn’t care what other people think of her. It doesn’t even occur to her to want to please others. ”Neither her critics, nor her husband’s voters, nor Donald Trump himself.
More about Melania Trump and Donald Trump
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“Melania and Me” is the name of a new reveal book about the US First Lady. The memoirs of Melania Trump’s former closest friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, are currently causing a stir in America. For the first time, a book gives intimate insights into the marriage of the Trumps.