Melania Trump: Staying put in New York
Melania Trump intends to be “a long-distance first lady,” said Catherine Lucey in the Associated Press. Instead of moving into the White House on Inauguration Day, the future first lady has announced that she will continue living in Manhattan’s Trump Tower at least through the summer, so her 10-year-old son, Barron, can finish the fourth grade. The break with tradition “seems in character” for the former model, who was an “elusive figure” on the campaign trail. But her decision “inflicts unnecessary inconvenience” on untold numbers of New Yorkers, said the Chicago Tribunein an editorial. Since the election, the area around Trump Tower has become a security nightmare. Police have closed two lanes of Fifth Avenue, “one of the busiest commercial arteries in America,” causing massive traffic gridlock, and Secret Service checkpoints have created “the urban equivalent” of snarled airport security lines for those unlucky enough to be working or walking nearby. All this protection is already costing New York taxpayers $1 million a day. As a public service, the family should move to Washington “sooner, rather than later.”
Mrs. Trump will hardly be the first presidential spouse to avoid Washington for long stretches, said Krissah Thompson in The Washington Post. Eleanor Roosevelt was a globetrotting activist; Bess Truman “spent most of her summers in Missouri with her daughter, Margaret”; and Jacqueline Kennedy, “who cherished her private life, traveled extensively.” There’s also “no reason to think that the White House will operate much differently without a resident first lady.” The East Wing’s bureaucracy will see to that. State dinners will still be scheduled, tour groups will be guided through, and “the residence will be cared for by a team of butlers, housekeepers, and florists.” When Mrs. Trump warms to the job, it’ll be there for her to step into.
Why not abolish the ceremonial office of first spouse altogether? said Jack Shafer in Politico.com. It’s a “rancid barrel of pork that has outlived its usefulness.” Surely we could find better uses for the $1.5 million currently being used to pay Michelle Obama’s “ridiculously large staff” of 25. Then we’d also be spared the lectures from the “federally funded bully pulpit” about healthy eating, highway beautification, and other pet causes. First ladies can write books, give speeches, and even “embrace leisure” without a big budget and a PR machine. “Melania Trump would do us all a great service if she told her husband she had better plans for the next four years.”