Before millions made the choice to presumably hate watch the State of the Union, I reached the conclusion that the only liar I wanted to see on Tuesday night was a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
So, instead of torturing myself watching Bankruptcy Batista further assault the English language and human decency as a whole, I avoided the State of the Union at all costs. Of course, when the President of the United States is a longwinded blowhard with the ego that rivals history's most infamous authoritarians, I couldn't completely escape chatter about his babbling.
It's not surprising that several news anchors, political reporters, and pundits who all need to be put in rice fell in line and pretended as if the dumb megalomaniac was "presidential" because he didn't hurt himself reading from a teleprompter, but I was reminded of an ongoing frustration I have with respect to the mythology surrounding Melania Trump.
Parkhomenko is a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, and thus, ought to know better. When asked if he was serious with this nonsensical tweet, he confirmed that he was, adding, "I don’t think they will be married long. Sort of becoming an open secret in DC."
There may be reason to believe this. According to the New York Times, Melania Trump was "blindsided" by a Wall Street Journal report that the porn star Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 just before the 2016 election to keep quiet about an affair she had had a decade earlier with her husband — when they were still newlyweds and not long after she gave birth to their son, Barron.
Apparently, she is "furious with her husband." Who could blame her?
Parkhomenko is not the only one questioning whether she was "protest dressing." There's been longstanding speculation about the way someone else's First Lady has looked at her husband and somebody else's President Trump. It's sparked the "Free Melania" take that's made many people roll their eyes as they scroll their various feeds.
While we've since learned that Melania Trump is weary of the spotlight and was not exactly keen on tackling the widespread visibility that comes with being First Lady of the United States, whatever perceived annoyance she has towards her husband doesn't necessarily make her some quiet member of the resistance or a "radical" as some would describe her. Indeed, in the New York Times op-ed "The Quiet Radicalism of Melania Trump," Kate Andersen Brower celebrates Trump for purportedly breaking the norms of what we anticipate from the First Lady — namely unyielding devoting to them.
"She may not be progressive," Brower writes. "She may not be political. And yet Mrs. Trump may end up doing more than any of her predecessors to upend our expectations of the slavish devotion a first lady must display toward her husband."
Brower goes on to claim that Melania Trump "has been defiant in her silence." As the author of a recent book on First Ladies, I understand that she commands a better understanding of history than I do. Still, there is something so glaring about her assertion that "Maybe Mrs. Trump is more like Michelle Obama than people think."
As Brower notes: "Would it have been beneficial to Donald Trump for his wife to stand beside him in Davos and show a united front, as we have come to expect from first ladies? Absolutely. Does she care? Probably not."
Sure, but we're also forgetting that while Melania Trump may loathe her predicaments — both personal and professional alike — she very much played a pivotal role in her husband's political rise. It is a political rise largely rooted in a racist conspiracy theory leveled at the husband of the woman Brower now compares her to.
Several years ago, Melania Trump appeared on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, touting her husband's potential bid for the presidency (he would later decline to run only to try the scam that went too far in the 2016 presidential election). Moreover, she lent credence to her husband's racist call for President Obama to more or less "show his papers." Not only did Melania Trump also question Obama's legitimacy, she acted as though her own immigration to the United States was far more pristine than time proved. As a matter of fact, there are still questions about her own immigration history that have, like the issue of her husband's taxes, remain unanswered.
And while she seems to loathe the responsibilities and spectacle that comes with being First Lady, she's certainly not missed an opportunity to convince leading the sort of life she did married to a billionaire (or whatever he actually is) on our dime. The Wall Street Journal reported that Melania Trump used Air Force jets more than 20 times over the course of about three months. She did so as she lived in New York so her son, Barron, could finish the school year. That was at a cost of some $675,000. By comparison, over the course of eight years, former first lady Michelle Obama's solo travel averaged about $350,000 a year.
Michelle Obama used to make more money than her husband, but suspended what she was doing in order to support her husband's political ambitions. Michelle Obama moved her children to Washington D.C. — without wait. Michelle Obama did her duty as First Lady despite racist, pathetic maligning from the right. Melania Trump may hate the gig, but her support of her husband's racism (coupled with her own hypocritical stances on immigration) is what helped fuel his rise and her present presumed frustrations, yet she's showing no signs of being any less of a grifter than anyone else in that administration or from that family she married into.
My point is, if you want to give kudos to Mrs. Trump for not playing the role of "dutiful wife," have at it, but that doesn't make her in any way shape or form a radical.
If anything, she's showing the same level of selfishness as her husband. After all, even if she were ecstatic about her marriage right now, she still would be doing the least as First Lady 'cause it's a job she loathes. She has no sense of duty or love of country. She is, like her husband, someone who puts her self-interests first in a role that calls for a certain selflessness. She is nobody's martyr or hero, but a co-conspirator who laid down with a conman and is now feeling that same sense of betrayal felt by Trump University graduates and everyone else he's scammed over decades.
The only issue for her right now is that her husband is a cheating thot who embarrasses her. Yeah, good on her for not standing by her man, but again, stop assigning her the most praise for doing the absolute least.