Dear Melania: We need to talk. Since the odds of me being invited to the White House for a private chit chat are slim, I’m going to have to go with the public approach. Let me be blunt, it’s time for you to end the speculation and be honest with all of us. Are you really the vapid, self-involved “Hurricane Barbie” or is there actually a person with a brain behind the blowout?
People have made excuses for you in the past few years. They want to believe you’re trapped, “She didn’t ask for this life.” There’s even been speculation that you may be a battered woman. When you disappeared for almost three weeks in May of this year, many wondered if you were hiding because you’d been harmed. The official statement was that you’d had a “kidney” procedure. Honey, since it’s just us girls here, let’s be honest with each other: the only bruises you were hiding were from the facelift you had. You know it, and I know it. If you’d really been sick, this administration would have played it for all the sympathy it was worth.
Yet, let me be clear, this isn’t about the state of your marriage; this is about more than the fact that Donald Trump is a disgrace to this country and a narcissistic sociopath that you happen to be married to. It’s about the example you allow him to set for your son, Barron (and all children, for that matter). Because, no matter what the world thinks about you as a person, I think it’s clear that you love your child. To me, your desire to be a good mother is your only redeeming factor.
However, that redemption only goes so far, and the more you stay silent, the more you play dumb regarding the horrible person that your husband is, the more we must start to question your ability to be a good parent. You’ve made bullying your primary focus as First Lady with your “Be Best” campaign, ignoring the irony that your husband’s behavior is so frequently like that of a bullying adolescent. The question must be asked: are you trying to send a message to Donald or are you mocking his detractors? Your refusal to acknowledge that his constant name-calling and personal attacks on people flies in the face of what you’re (supposedly) advocating, leaving your efforts seeming quite insincere. You can’t really be that clueless, can you?
Then, during one of the many low points of this administration, when thousands of families were ripped apart, you wore the now infamous “I really don’t care, do you?” jacket on your way to visiting the shelters housing those children. It was at best tone deaf, and at worst a direct statement from a callously unfeeling woman. The official line was that it was “just a jacket.” Your husband claimed it was directed at the media criticism of him. Your defenders (off the record) claim it was a message to your husband. Your critics point out that a woman so obsessed with fashion would hardly make such a mistake. It was, to me, reminiscent of the night (not long after the Access Hollywood tapes became public) you wore a “pussy bow” blouse to the presidential debate. While I know that most of your modeling was done with your clothes off, your image is everything to you. Wearing the jacket was deliberate, wearing the blouse was deliberate. We just don’t know why. Your refusal to speak publicly about almost anything just creates more speculation.
Let’s be honest, you’re all that Barron has. Your husband probably forgets he exists half the time, and clearly has very little interest in him. The only child your husband has that matters to him is Ivanka, and we won’t begin to get into the (clearly) disturbing reasons behind that. Whether or not your husband takes any interest in being a father, he is still the primary male role model in Barron’s life. Based on how Donald Jr and Eric turned out, you cannot continue to ignore the path that Barron is on if you have any hopes at raising a decent human being.
Barron’s father was not welcome at the funeral of a United States Senator from his own party. He behaved like a petulant child when questioned about Senator John McCain in the days following his death. (We don’t even need to get into how he treated the terminally-ill man in the year leading up to his death). How do you explain this to your child? Your husband’s behavior is normalizing and increasing bullying and boorish behavior in adults. How do you tell all children to “be best” while ignoring the orange elephant in the room?
I recognize that leaving your husband isn’t an option you’re willing to pursue, but you do have other choices. You can acknowledge your husband’s behavior. You can publicly tell all parents that while your husband chooses to behave like that, you hope they encourage their children to “Be Better.” Tweeting vague little nothings to seem kind, in contrast to your husband’s hate, is not enough. You have to be the grown-up and you must do it publicly. If you don’t, then you’re complicit. If you don’t, then you are beyond redemption and your son has no chance. I know this chat has been one-sided, so now it really is your turn. I’ll leave you with this last thought, as I finish my coffee and head for the door: there’s a word for women who sell their bodies and souls for money. Don’t let it become synonymous with your name.
Wendy Luxenburg writes for Palmer Report