'Dear Melania Trump: Good luck. You will need it'
A letter to the new First Lady, urging her to use her outsider status to everyone’s advantage
‘You understand what it is to be different. Some people thought that your heavily accented vowels may have conflicted with President Trump’s message of an aspirational national purity. They were wrong about that.’
You are the first third wife to become First Lady in the history of the United States. Congratulations. And given that 50 per cent of marriages in the US end in divorce, you will know how the other half live. Use that understanding of human fallibility kindly.
Born in the Former Yugoslavia, you speak five languages - English, French, German, Serbian and your native Slovenian. Please use any of the five to have a word with your husband about his attitude to difference.
You are only the second First Lady to be born outside the United States since Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy, who was born in England. That was almost 200 years ago.
You understand what it is to be different. Your husband is rumoured to have kept you away from his campaign stage. Some people thought that your heavily accented vowels may have conflicted with President Trump’s message of an aspirational national purity. They were wrong about that.
You have posed nude for money. That takes balls, Melania.
In 2001, you appeared on the cover of GQ magazine showing your nipple. You have done naked faux-lesbian shots and in 2000 rather prophetically posed prostrate on a US presidential carpet wearing a red bikini. You know what it is like to have to give your all to get anything at all. Use that feeling Melania, because many people have felt the same.
“The trouble with me is that I’m an outsider. And that’s a very hard thing to be in American life.”
Jackie Kennedy said that. You embody that, Melania. Turn being an outsider to your advantage. You are now head shepherdess of the US people. Turn it to the advantage of the melting pot your husband will govern. You know how being an outsider feels.
Read from the Book of Jackie. Jackie Kennedy, not Jackie Collins.
“I think the best thing I can do is to be a distraction. A husband lives and breathes his work all day long. If he comes home to more table thumping, how can the poor man ever relax?”
Jackie Kennedy loved JFK. You are going to have to draw from the same well, even when the bucket is hard to fill. Maybe you have become good at filling that bucket.
You are not planning to move in to the White House at this stage, leaving President Trump’s chip-off-the-old-block daughter Ivanka to do the honours in Washington. You will stay in Trump Towers in New York with your 11-year-old son, Barron. There are people who will applaud that choice. Especially those who are averse to table-thumping.
Don’t be frightened that you must follow Michelle Obama. She has been an epic First Lady who has spread epic vibes and said epic things.
“Our glorious diversity - our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds - that is not a threat to who we are; it makes us who we are,” Michelle Obama said during her final speech as First Lady. Make your diversity who you are, Melania.
“For a while I thought history was something that bitter old men wrote. But Jack loved history so,” Jackie Kennedy said of JFK, the 35th President of the United States.
Of course, President Trump is not a history type of guy. “I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That’s where the fun is.” History is basically bunk, he has said.
If President Donald J Trump has little interest in history, history is up to the rest of us. It is up to us to stop history being written by “bitter old men”.
You have a role to play in that. Like Jackie Kennedy, you may feel that you are an “outsider”, but First Lady Melania Trump, you are right in the middle of the state of the American nation.
Good luck Melania. You will need it.