Melania Trump recently appeared before the nation in a wide-ranging interview on Good Morning America demonstrating – once again – that she is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. There is and has always been a sense that this first lady is more than just what meets the eye, as pleasing as that may be. In fact, just below the surface of that calm, quiet demeanor appears to be a woman of power and purpose.
While stating matter of factly that she is one of the most bullied people in the world, there is a surprising lack of bitterness and angst emanating from Mrs. Trump. Instead, she seems only slightly bemused by the gossip, the innuendo, and the lack of understanding that so many have about her, her husband, and her marriage.
Melania has taken the hits and body blows of being America’s first lady and wife of a controversial president and, at least outwardly, seems unfazed by it all. Upon recently meeting Mrs. Trump, a friend of mine remarked to the first lady that she was doing a good job. Mrs. Trump graciously smiled and replied, “Thank you. I don’t hear that often.”
There is something sad but true about that statement. The legacy media has been nothing short of ruthless in its reporting of Melania Trump. In fashion: Michelle Obama is trendy while Melania is hopelessly inappropriate. In marriage: The Obamas are an American love story while Mr. and Mrs. Trump have a relationship “on the rocks.” For sure, First Lady Melania Trump has been persecuted and pilloried for anything and everything by a malicious and cruel Fourth Estate.
Imagine if you will a member of the 1960s news media asking Jacqueline Kennedy about her husband’s many and various liaisons with members of the opposite sex. “Mrs. Kennedy,” they query, “Did you know that when you go off to Middleburg, VA to ride horses your husband is swimming naked in the White House Pool with another woman?” No, of course, one cannot envision such a question.
Today, however, Tom Llamas of ABC News pointedly asked Mrs. Trump about allegations of her husband’s sexual exploits outside of marriage. She replied, “I’m a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do. It is not a concern and focus of mine.” According to The Hill, she followed with, “It’s not always pleasant, of course, but I know what is right and what is wrong and what is true and not true.”
A Shared History
Melania Trump is only the second foreign-born first lady in U.S. history. The first was Louisa Catherine Johnson, who was half American and half British. She became Mrs. John Quincy Adams much to the dismay of the American media at that time. Like Mrs. Trump, she was “sophisticated and urbane” but marrying an English lady in 1797 wasn’t exactly popular and perhaps not a particularly politically astute move. An article about the second Mrs. Adams on History.com portrays someone who would have had much in common with Mrs. Trump:
“Louisa Adams was painted in the press as a foreigner and a Tory of aristocratic birth. It was a challenging political time: America’s fledgling political system lent itself to factionalism. Louisa Adams was horrified as she realized the nation’s voters were swayed not by rational reasoning, but by their emotions.”
Emotions over reasoning? Sounds mighty familiar.
But perhaps a lesser known aspect of Louisa Adams was her independence and great strength shown in the early years of her marriage. With her two-year-old son Charles in tow, she traveled to Russia as a diplomat’s wife and endured disabling migraine headaches, cold winters, eroding finances, and the death of an infant daughter. When her husband was called to Ghent and London in 1814, in the dead of winter, Louisa and her son made it through war-ravaged Europe with bands of marauders and criminals nipping at their heels in a harrowing 40-day coach journey. It was unheard of for a woman to make an expedition of such peril alone at the time. But her courage and conviction in the face of challenging times revealed the strength that lay within Louisa Adams.
While Melania Trump may not be traversing through European war zones by coach, she does have to face and endure many battles of her own. And through these, she has proven herself an unflappable woman of courage who understands who she is and what she hopes to accomplish. There is a sense that Melania Trump is not one to suffer fools and will continue to plow ahead no matter the exigent circumstances that face a first lady, and that she will confront them with grace and poise.