The elusive Mrs. Trump, last seen in a powder blue ensemble balancing on stiletto heels that would confound and bestow bunions on many other women, doesn't get a break. But does she deserve one?
Half my readers, I suspect, would say she’s getting everything she deserves for publicly supporting her husband’s birtherism campaign and dismissing his comments on groping as “boy talk.” The other half would rant that the liberal media is once again attacking the new administration.
Since The Donald — his first wife’s choice of words, not mine — moved into the White House, Melania (Wife No. 3) has been, by most accounts, missing in action. Who can blame her? The last time she was center stage, at the Republican National Convention, she made news for a speech that cribbed lines from then first lady Michelle Obama.
We’ve gotten over that. Or maybe not. Lately there’s been much hand-wringing over the fact that her absence from Washington has been quite conspicuous. When, for example, Trump traveled to pay respects to a fallen member of the Navy SEALs, Melania didn’t accompany him. It was daughter Ivanka at his side.
Melania has made it clear she plans to stay in New York until son Barron finishes the school year. I may think little of her husband’s rhetoric, but I must admit to admiring that decision. I like the fact that she’s willing to buck public opinion to protect her son.
Of course that begs another question: Why does Ivanka, mother of three children 5 and under, feel differently? Perhaps that contrast serves as a perfect example of how today’s women are choosing among a spectrum of selections to balance family and work obligations.
But never mind. Back to Melania. She slipped into the limelight again, albeit briefly, when she hired a chief of staff and an interior designer to overhaul the White House private quarters, all in the same week. She is expected to hire a former Obama administration protocol official as her social secretary.
The rest of the time, we’re not sure what she’s doing, so social media has had a field day filling in the blanks. With photos. With memes. With GIFs. With sharply worded opinions.
For a while after the inauguration #FreeMelania became a popular hashtag when concerned citizens shared photos of a glum Melania standing by her man or being ignored by the leader of the free world.
“Sad Melania” became a meme and the Tiffany box that contained a gift for Michelle was portrayed with a note asking for "HELP." One sign at the Women’s March on Washington read: "MELANIA: BLINK TWICE IF YOU NEED HELP" and a publication asked a body language expert to opine on her behavior.
Normally I’d be bothered by this nonsense. If I weren’t so worried about where our country is headed, I might protest the inanities that rob our attention from what’s important. I might gripe about jokes that make light of what should be taken seriously. But our ability to be witty with the absurd — the bracing drollness that accompanies such efforts — has kept my spirits up. Somehow, in a strangely perverse way, the fact that we can find humor in this alternative-facts world means something more than a good laugh.
It means we’re going to be OK as we adjust to a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance. Don’t you think that if I say it enough — we’ll be OK, we’ll be OK, we’ll be OK, we’ll be OK — it might become true?