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Where's Melania?

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1898, an emancipated woman constrained by tradition. Photo: Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation

 from "The Hill We Climb," by Amanda Gorman


A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.

-Eleanor Roosevelt



I've been thinking about the elusive Melania, the Slovenian-American former model who started dating Trump after meeting him at a party in Manhattan in 1998, exactly 100 years since the photo of Eleanor Roosevelt I chose for this blog post was taken. When asked by the NY Times what kind of a First Lady she would be, Melania said, "I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy."


Traditional. How does that play these days? Very well, apparently, in some retro circles. That said, Melania's low profile, her near disappearance during the indictments is interesting, even understandable. Apparently she's sequestered with her parents and her nearly grown son, Barron. Wouldn't you do the same, dear reader? Stay clear. Sequester yourself with those near and dear? Redecorate the home you bought in Slovenia? Keep your Slovenian passport up-to-date? Make sure your son had dual citizenship? Send your parents back to your Homeland before the trial/s?


During the administration of her beloved—if  that is what he was—Melania  also maintained a low profile, albeit she worked various charities, like most obedient and hard working First Ladies who learn quickly to second fiddle their husbands. Without exception First Ladies who had  pre-White House careers abandoned them when their guy made it to the Oval Desk—even Michelle abandoned her successful law career—and  then tried to keep on keeping on with book contracts, healthy gardens, and other "projects." Bill Clinton groomed Hillary for her Senate run by giving her an important position in the cabinet, re: healthcare, was that it? Was this appointment before the Under- the- Oval Desk Scandal, or after? Was it a deal the maligned couple struck when they were still in Arkansas?  During the 1992 presidential campaign, Hillary, a smart First Lady, quoted from the obsequious First Lady Handbook: "Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is . . . For me, that balance is family, work, and service."




I am wishing Melania well in the months and years to come. Truly I am. But I am also wondering when, if ever, the United States of America will wake up to its smart women politicians and vote one of them into the White House, not as an appendage to the President as a VP, or a wife, but into the Big Chair, where surely one of them belongs. Eleanor, Hillary and Michelle could have carried the responsibility well, wouldn't you agree, dear reader? They were smart enough, educated enough, worldly enough, and tough enough. And I suppose we could say the same for Kamala, if she is given the chance, though she remains unimpressive in many respects. But then again, she's in the Big Man's shadow. And it's a long one.


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