Melania: A global coming-out party
It was the wrist flick “viewed ’round the world,” said Michael D’Antonio in CNN.com. At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport last week President Trump reached for wife Melania’s hand and “she rebuffed him,” batting his hand away. Melania’s snub—and a second one in Rome—might well be a response to “innumerable acts” of Trumpian unkindness to her. On Inauguration Day and in Israel, he walked far ahead of her, leaving her awkwardly alone; he made her “the butt of his best jokes” at last fall’s Al Smith dinner; and then there was that humiliating Access Hollywood tape. Stuck with “a boor,” the first lady “must, out of respect for the American public, grin and bear it.” But sometimes—when she delays her move to the White House, or slaps away her husband’s hand—“it’s hard to believe she’s not sending signals.”
The frenzy over a split-second hand motion is absurd, said Cheryl Chumley in The Washington Times. It’s a classic case of confirmation bias: Trump’s enemies, desperate for evidence of marital discord, have found “the negative conclusion” they want. “Who knows what goes on in the confines of any relationship?” asked Krissah Thompson in The Washington Post. Barack and Michelle Obama made their romance “a central part of their story,” and they very publicly teased one another, kissed, and held hands. Yet at times, “the Obamas seemed to be performing,” just like the Clintons, dancing on a beach in 1998—the year a sex scandal engulfed Bill’s presidency. “If every marriage is a mystery, political marriages are the Twilight Zone.”
Besides, the first lady’s “subdued star power” was well received abroad, said Mark Landler in The New York Times.
Glamorous and often sphinx-like, she intrigued the Saudis and Europeans, made an otherwise glum Pope Francis grin, and seemed warm and thoroughly at ease snapping selfies with admirers and speaking Italian to patients at a Vatican children’s hospital who hollered “Ciao, Melania!” In Sicily, she made a stir by wearing a Dolce & Gabbana jacket retailing for $51,500 —slightly less than Americans’ median household income—but defenders said the garment was carefully chosen because of Dolce’s Sicilian roots. For Melania, the trip “was a coming-out party,” suggesting she will no longer be “a spectral presence” in her husband’s presidency.