To the person who crafts President Trump’s speeches:
That Black History Month address was memorable! I truly did not foresee a day when Frederick Douglass would be trending on Twitter, and I bet I’m not alone.
Not mentioning Jewish people in the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement: also memorable. It’s almost as if these moments aimed at bringing us together in collective remembrance and tribute are going to further divide and isolate us.
Which is why I’m writing today. Women’s History Month is right around the corner (March), and I thought I’d offer a few pointers, so the speech doesn’t seem thrown together at the last minute or, worse, anti-women.
▪ Keep the Miss Universe talk to a minimum. It’s not that the winners aren’t praiseworthy. They proudly represent their countries and raise awareness and money for all sorts of charities and causes. Props to them. But Trump has a fondness for ranking women — 10 is good, “big, fat pig” is bad — and pageant references are likely to call that habit to mind.
▪ Don’t rip on Hillary Clinton. We’re here to talk about women, and she’s a woman Trump loves to talk about. But it’s usually in the beat-her-so-bad vein, or the she’s-so-corrupt vein or the lock-her-up vein, and that just strikes the wrong tone for this occasion.
▪ Don’t invite Bill Clinton’s former mistresses to sit next to Trump during the speech. This one seems fairly straightforward.
▪ Acknowledge the Women’s March. Political scientists are calling the nationwide marches Jan. 21 the largest demonstration in American history. Thank the participants for exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble, and stop pretending none of them voted.
▪ Back the Harriet Tubman bill. The majority of Americans support replacing Andrew Jackson’s mug with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. President Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced it was happening in April, but we’re still waiting. Trump wasn’t wild about the idea, calling it “pure political correctness.” This speech would be a fantastic moment to get him on the right side of history.
▪ Thank Melania. On the surface, the first lady’s life bears little similarity to those of most women — she’s a former model married to the leader of the free world. But she’s a mother and a stepmother and a woman making her way in a world not entirely of her choosing — roles that many of us find highly relatable. Trump should thank her, publicly, for handling those roles with grace.
▪ When all else fails, talk about Beyoncé. Her pregnancy announcement broke Instagram. She could set her grocery list to music, and it would soar to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. She’s powerful, fierce, enormously talented and the closest thing this great nation has to royalty.
Congratulate her on the twins, and thank her for giving us something joyful to anticipate in 2017.
©2017 Chicago Tribune