UPDATE: CNN is reporting “No one to be fired after Melania Trump speech plagiarism episode.” The RNC is just going to try to motor past it like nothing happened. Unfortunately, that makes the candidate’s wife look more like she’s the one fully at fault. What a damn shame.
In May, I began a long appraisal of Melania Trump, about whom I knew precious little. I never published it. One thing I did know – because countless Hillary Clinton supporters sent it to me – was her history of posing naked with things; glittery handcuffs, furs, guns, and briefcases full of jewels on Donald’s private plane. Was this the kind of woman you really want in the White House, my Clinton friends would ask? Their premise, of course, was to make me and other Bernie Sanders supporters responsible for a Trump presidency. A load of crap for several reasons; among them how easily it glides over the question of serial womanizer Bill Clinton back in the White House, and whether first spouses ever really matter. And more to the point: What happens next is up to Clinton and Trump, not so much to me.
But there’s more here: How eager people are – “feminists” among them – to downgrade this woman as a moral degenerate. She was a professional model in an industry that pays women to take it off and preen for the camera. Melania Trump’s profession trains women to adopt an affect of blank stare, one that suggests aloof, disinterested superiority. Ennui. But this was the industry she was working in; I’m not going to go after somebody’s work, pre-politics. And if you don’t like it, I can suggest many ways in which pretty women are used for mass consumption. Then we can talk. To date, all Trump’s event are Trump-centric, but after last night, people will now start in on Melania. Particularly since Bill Clinton is a known quantity, comfortable in any setting. A known quantity; his failures, embarrassments, disbarring, impeachment, along with his success. And I admit, those photos got me for about 5 minutes, and then I was like …
I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania. I will NOT slut-shame Melania.
I thought about that last night as we watched the RNC dumpster-fire of a first night. And Melania’s obvious plagiarizing of Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNCC speech. And if campaign chair Joe Manafort threw Melania under a bus, how unfortunate that is, and how easy to do because she’s so pretty she must be vacuous; it had to be her and not the big swinging dicks running the show.
Her words are clearly lifted. Sure as hell looks like bad staff work to me, and far as I’m concerned woe to the campaign professionals responsible for making this woman look foolish. Expectations for Melania’s speech were so low (and apparently Trump so worried, he made an unscheduled first night appearance to walk her onstage) that her simple, straight, calm delivery was the bright spot in a night of dark, angry, bullshit agitprop. Until we figured out the words weren’t hers. So now we’re in a 2nd-day story of Republican denials, and a rumored “save-my-marriage” situation going on between two very upset Trumps. I know about bad staff work, I’ve even been responsible for some on occasion; it’s almost never the fault of the person giving the speech. And yes, even though she claims she wrote it, “with as little help as possible.” Somebody let her go out there. Where’s this campaign’s discipline?
Back to Donald now. I feel for this guy today, much as I despise everything about him. His convention’s a joke. His staff incompetent. I’m not convinced we’re even looking at a real campaign, instead of one designed to disintegrate right at this moment in the cycle. I’m gonna feel for him for about 5 minutes; then I’m done.
Because, as I thought about how eager some of my Democrat friends were to slut-shame Melania Trump – for photographs, not conduct – that beyond his obviously disreputable politics, it’s so clearly Trump himself whose history of words and conduct on sex are horrifying. Not gonna take my off that ball. Trump, always hovering near Ivanka, color coordinating. Pervy photos of Trump with a growing Ivanka. And – ew – this, and the kind of joking about a daughter’s beauty most fathers would never say, or even think. Trump, apparently less concerned with how things look than most politicians (or, most humans) seems to make a point of showing off his daughter – who he made TV star – in a way he doesn’t with his lookalike sons, who are mostly known for slaughtering large animals on foreign soil. He seems to tease it for public consumption, this man who has married women the age of his daughter, and younger. And who likes to objectify women in the most revolting, throwback ways – Megyn Kelly was a “bimbo” after she reminded him in debate he’d called women fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Arianna Huffington “unattractive.” To a blond Apprentice contestant, he said “Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.” And he’s made degrading comments about the appearance of women such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie O’Donnell, Bette Midler. He’s said rape in the military is expected when you put men and women together. In a deposition, when a lawyer needed a few minutes medical break to pump breast milk for her baby, he called her “disgusting.” On negative coverage, he’s said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
That “young and beautiful piece of ass” may be our First Lady some day. She is fluent in several languages and has lived on several continents. a fact less known than what she looks like. We know she rarely speaks publicly, because he never shuts up. The Washington Post dissects Melania for a curious public. No surprise that their focus is the physical woman; a “rare and exotic creature,” a photograph sitting behind a bowl of jewelry, “twirling a necklace around her fork like a strand of spaghetti — as if she actually might eat carbs.” Likening her to Marie Antoinette, Dynasty, and the Real Housewives. WaPo doesn’t seem to find a First Lady swimming in Melania’s stylish frocks. Or much personality. It’s a harsh appraisal I’m not sure she deserves.
Melania Trump isn’t the schmuck here. She’s the spouse standing next to the schmuck. I’ll be waiting to see how high up in Trump’s campaign heads will roll. Let them roll today.
Ah. See update at the top of the post. Nope, the RNC is going to try to let it slide, and let Melania look like a chump all by herself. This, Blue Jerseyans, does not bode well.