Melania: Her jacket’s baffling statement
“If the Trump administration were an item of clothing,” said Nancy Kaffer in the Detroit Free Press, it would be the jacket Melania Trump wore on her way to visit a detention center full of migrant children last week. En route to Texas, the fashion-conscious first lady donned a green, hooded jacket—$39 at Zara—with a “tone-deaf” message emblazoned on the back: “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” Her spokeswoman claimed those words had no “hidden message,” which was true enough: The statement was delivered in huge capital letters. The idea that Mrs. Trump “just threw the Zara jacket on” is “simply unbelievable,” said Vanessa Friedman in The New York Times. She knew as well as anyone that whatever she wore would be closely scrutinized. The question, then, is what message was she sending?
Melania remained mum, said James Pindell in BostonGlobe.com, “which means we’re left to speculate.” President Trump tweeted, not very credibly, that the jacket expressed her disdain for “the Fake News Media.” Maybe the first lady was saying she doesn’t care about all the speculation about her whereabouts during her recent disappearance from public view. Or perhaps she was sending an “overt shot across the bow” about unhappiness with her marriage—which has been evident since Trump’s election and has visibly increased with revelations of his adultery. Some folks who pity Melania wondered “if the jacket is somehow a cry for help,” said Jill Filipovic in Cosmopolitan.com. But Melania knew the man she was marrying “for financial security”; since she’s choosing to be “the attractive face” of an administration “that puts children and babies in internment camps,” she deserves no one’s sympathy.
Maybe Melania meant to grab her other jacket—the one that reads “I REALLY CARE, DON’T U?” said Ruth Graham in Slate.com. Whatever her intent, “this one little stupid moment in the midst of a humanitarian crisis feels like the apotheosis of the ‘words don’t matter’ presidency.” When Donald Trump was caught on videotape boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, his defenders said those were “just words.” We’re repeatedly told not to take his incendiary tweets and overtly racist comments too seriously. Now we’re advised that when Melania chooses to wear a jacket with a giant message, it has no meaning whatsoever. As we should have learned by now, when “someone tells you who they are, believe them.”