Farewell, Melania Trump. The least popular First Lady in memory, you’re now free to do what you want – even divorce the President
After a high-profile court case during which she admitted her goal was to cash in on her role, FLOTUS fluffed the script. As a result, she’s soon likely to be departing the White House having left no meaningful legacy.
At the end of her husband’s second and final term as president, Michelle Obama published her memoirs. ‘Becoming’ sold 11.5 million copies. She has since toured the world with a sell-out one-woman show, while catching up with the international cast of friends she made while First Lady.
But don’t expect any of that from Melania, who’ll be leaving DC in just over two months – unless, of course, President Trump’s election lawsuits succeed.
And while rumours are running wild that she’s calculating the best time to ditch Donald, the reality is that, even if she sticks with him, no one really cares what she does anyway, just as long as she’s gone.
Her job as decorator-in-chief apparently began in tears, if we’re to believe ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ author Michael Wolff. He wrote that being First Lady of the USA was the last thing Melania had wished for, and her husband’s triumph was not something she had celebrated.
So, it’s more likely that she’ll be waving farewell to the White House staff with some relief, free to return to Trump Tower in New York – even if the locals no longer want Donald in the neighbourhood. He can stay at Mar-a-Lago with his golf buddies and play the happy retiree, boring everyone rigid at the 19th hole with his tales of power and excess while sucking down the Diet Cokes.
Back in NYC, Melanija Knavs as-was can resume her life as Rapunzel, the billionairess prisoner of her own making, tucked away in her tower, far from the public gaze under which she is clearly so uncomfortable.
Having made so little impact during her four years in Washington DC, maybe she’ll feel the need for some introspection, take the time to wonder what went wrong with all the opportunity that seemed there for the taking back in 2016.
When the UK’s Daily Mail was put in its place after accusing her of offering more than modelling services – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – during her early career, it looked like things were on the up.
While she won nowhere near the $150 million in damages she had sought over the defamatory slur, Melania really laid her cards on the table… in a deeply unedifying display of how she intended to cash in on her husband’s stroke of luck in securing the most important job in the world.
Her lawyer told the court at the time that his client thought the allegations against her would harm her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, 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 which the plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.”
He went on to suggest that these products would include, “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, haircare, skincare, and fragrance.” None of this junk has ever materialised, but the sheer, grasping greed of it all helped make Melania deeply unpopular in her adopted homeland and elsewhere.
Nonetheless, at the tourist office in her hometown of Sevnica, in the alpine former Communist-ruled nation of Slovenia, you could buy Melania red wine for around $40 a bottle alongside Melania-branded beauty cream, chocolate and tea.
Once loaded up with these goodies, you could then enjoy the Melania statue carved in linden wood and erected by proud locals in her honour – at least you could have done until July 4 this year, when it was burnt down by vandals and replaced with a bronze version. Seems not everyone in Sevnica’s a fan.
It’s hard to understand why Melania made such a mess of what should have been a breeze of a job. With access to a private jet and a multi-million annual security budget, you can fly anywhere you like in platinum-class comfort and stay in unimaginable luxury when you get there while others fawn over you.
But instead, everything seemed such a chore. There was the husband, for starters, and those dreadful women who claimed he’d slept with them. Even after he’d allegedly paid them not to retell their stories, they insisted on appearing on television and dragging them all through the mud again and again, with no end to the public appetite for more.
What was Melania thinking? Was she about to go all Tammy Wynette and stand by her man? Er, not really. She told a TV interviewer, “It is not a concern and focus of mine. I’m a mother and a First Lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do.”
Like… help organise the White House Christmas celebrations. But that was apparently not much fun either. She moaned to her now very much ‘former’ pal and unpaid adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, “I’m working my ass off with the Christmas stuff … you know, who gives a f**k about Christmas stuff and decorations, but I need to do it, right? And then I do it, and I say I’m working on Christmas and planning for Christmas. And they say, ‘What about the children that are separated?’”
Full of seasonal cheer right there. And this was around the time her husband’s hard-line stance on immigration had led to migrant children being separated from their parents – some of them permanently – on illegally entering states along the Mexican border. As she boarded her flight in Maryland en route to visit children in a Texas migrant centre, Melania wore a jacket emblazoned across the back with the words “I really don’t care, do u?”
No matter who she imagined the target of that barb was – the ‘fake’ media, apparently – it backfired spectacularly. When asked by Wolkoff about the jacket, she replied, “I’m driving liberals crazy, that’s for sure… and they deserve it.”
Clearly, it never occurred to the First Lady how sporting that jacket might look on a visit to those desperate migrant children – as long as the liberals were riled, it was job done.
No one could imagine Mrs Obama, the Bush wives or even Hillary Clinton making such a cack-handed and overtly political statement at such an inappropriate time. What part of smiling, shaking hands and looking demure alongside her husband did Melania not understand? She just didn’t seem to get it.
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When she met wheelchair-bound President of Ecuador Lenín Moreno and his wife, Rocio Gonzalez, at the first head-of-state visit to the US by the South American nation in 20 years, she chose to wear a Salvatore Ferragamo snakeskin-print skirt – a snip at $7,700.
Of course, she can wear what she likes and mostly she looks great, but a little due diligence always helps when meeting foreign leaders, and wearing a designer skirt that costs half the annual salary of a typical Ecuadorian worker could seem a bit, I dunno, tone deaf.
But maybe we expected too much. Maybe we’d been spoiled by the spouses of previous incumbents. Even if we didn’t necessarily like them, we appreciated they were in a tough spot. Shoved into the limelight, thanks to the political ambition of the men in their lives, they also found themselves as First Lady to a nation of 331 million people, with the burden of expectation that brought. Not everyone’s up to that role.
In an interesting analysis of Melania’s pre-White House Twitter feed, in 2017, commentator Kate Imbach analysed nearly 500 photos posted over a couple of years by the soon-to-be First Lady and assessed what they told us about her character. Her verdict was not exactly flattering.
The shots Melania posted show, Imbach wrote, “lives behind glass, in cars, in her house, on private planes and private resorts. She doesn’t even get out of the car to see landmarks or walk in the park. She is never among the public, not for a second.”
Looking at those photos and the accompanying narrative, it’s eerily prescient for what followed. Although breaching the sanctity of the sisterhood, Imbach makes clear where she stands: “Melania Trump is the woman least fit for public service in the entirety of the United States of America. We should expect nothing from her. She’s living inside a dark fairytale and, in fairytales, the women trapped in towers never save anyone but themselves.”
From that standpoint, you’d never have been disappointed in Melania Trump’s starring role as First Lady. Unless, of course, you had your heart set on those Melania-branded skincare products.
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