Melania Trump was in high spirits at the Rose Garden of the White House on May 7. A wide smile shone on her face, her gait was light and free, and even the company of her husband on that clear and fine day did not irritate her at all, as it often happened before, but, on the contrary, encouraged her. Without exaggeration, this was her finest hour: the first lady launched her own campaign "Be the best", dedicated to the health and well-being of children.
This initiative has been expected from Melania for a long time: even during her husband's election campaign, Mrs. Trump emphasized that as the first lady, she would deal with the problems of bullying on the Internet among young people. For more than a year in the White House, Melania has held several work events and made a couple of inspiring speeches, but it has only now come to launch a full-fledged campaign on her behalf.
“The moral duty of our generation is to take the initiative and help our children,” said the first lady from the rostrum, which was adorned with the “Be Best” logo. Melania also explained that in her understanding, helping children should cover completely different areas: from promoting a healthy lifestyle to fostering a culture of behavior in social networks.
On the same day, the President signed a proclamation endorsing the First Lady's initiative, and Melania and her team immediately began their work by releasing the information booklet “Talking with kids about being online”, developed by The Federal Trade Commission and … the first lady herself.
At least that is how this brochure was originally described on the White House website. Until the Americans caught Melania Trump for plagiarism.
The fact is that the booklet, whose authorship the White House attributed to Melania and the Federal Trade Commission, was not developed by the first lady herself, or even with her participation. Moreover, a pdf document with almost identical content and exactly the same design was published by the commission back in 2014, during the administration of Barack Obama. In fact, Melania just took the old booklet, slightly changed the text and title (in the old version it was called "Net Cetera: Chatting with kids about being online") and wrote the introduction on her own behalf, adding her signature to it for added effect and official portrait.
Of course, this oversight did not escape the attention of the media and users of social networks. Overnight, the First Lady was accused of plagiarism, at the same time recalling Melania's speech at the National Convention of the Republican Party in 2016, part of which almost word for word repeated the address of Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008.
On the campaign page, the wording "by First lady" (that is, "designed by the First Lady") was immediately replaced by "promoted by First lady", but the wave of criticism was so strong that Mrs. Trump's secretariat still I had to comment on the situation. Stephanie Grisham, director of communications for the first lady, was quick to accuse opposition media of the shift in focus: in her opinion, journalists should pay attention to the positive goals of the campaign, and not to such a trifle as a newsletter and its authorship.
But, perhaps, who would be worth blaming for this situation is not the journalists and not even the first lady herself, but her team, which systematically fails her from time to time.
When the retinue is more important than the king
Of course, we could remember the saying that “the fish rots from the head”, but let's be honest: no one had any illusions that Melania fully and completely fulfills her duties on her own. In this regard, her words that in 2016 she wrote the very speech for the congress herself "with minimal help" is, at the very least, slyness, because even the representatives of the then candidate Trump in an official statement mentioned that above the text a whole team of speechwriters worked. Without belittling Melania's intellectual abilities, it is obvious that she did not write the speech, and, roughly speaking, that evening her task was just to be a "talking head" for a few minutes.
So, it means that the responsibility for plagiarism should not be borne by her, but by the one who allowed it?
The question remains open. Yes, Melania could take the time to write the appeal on her own and only then give it to editing. Yes, she could have prepared better and listened to what previous First Ladies had said at party conventions before her. But the reality is that Mrs. Trump, in principle, was not obliged to do this. After all, what did her husband's campaign headquarters get paid for then?
The same can be said for the booklet. Melania launches the campaign on her behalf, as her name has weight and can attract public attention. Everything else - organizing campaigns and events, her speeches at them, launching a website and information brochures - is hardly her concern. Nobody canceled the delegation of powers.
Did the wife of a famous businessman and socialite in the past really spend all her free time in 2014 on the website of the Federal Trade Commission, where the document was originally posted? Of course, she did not design the booklet. And, in fact, this whole ugly situation could have been easily avoided if the person who was working on the "Be Best" page on the White House website did not use the wording "by First lady", but honestly would say that Melania asks all parents read a useful document developed by the commission four years ago.
And a few more words in defense of the first lady
In the case of Melania, it is important to understand that, unlike the same Michelle Obama, she did not want and does not want to be the first lady. And this is clear not only from revealing books like Michael Wolf's Fire and Fury or statements from White House insiders. The fact that Donald Trump's wife does not like her current situation is obvious to anyone who looks at her photos over the past year and follows her scanty schedule of events (read also: “How the body language of Donald and Melania Trump changed (especially after moving to the White House) "). And it is naive to believe that the inhabitants of the East Wing of the White House (office of the first lady) do not know about this.
It is not surprising that Melania lacks the enthusiasm of her predecessors in the performance of the duties of the president's wife (let's not forget that it is important for Americans that their first lady also be an independent figure and do socially useful things). And yet it is difficult to convict her of complete indifference to her status. Despite several demarches, she generally continues to accompany Trump on trips, and at the end of April she showed herself excellently in organizing a state banquet in honor of Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron.
And she chose her own "direction" of work - protecting children from modern threats - very competently. Traditionally, the first ladies of the United States launch campaigns, towards the goals of which they themselves are not indifferent: for example, Nancy Reagan was engaged in the fight against drugs, Laura Bush - in the eradication of illiteracy, and Michelle Obama spoke out against adolescent obesity. In this regard, Melania is an attractive woman who does not get tired of emphasizing that she is, first of all, a mother - indeed, in her campaign, she can reveal herself in a completely new way. In the end, no one will argue that every time she communicates with children (and she communicates a lot, which is also significant), the first lady of the United States literally blooms before our eyes.
But, alas, Melania Trump's initiatives still do not have the proper success, because every time her environment discredits all her ideas. Plagiarism of a booklet is just the tip of the iceberg. It is much more disappointing that the first lady who advocates cultivating cultural behavior on social media is married to someone who is completely alien to this culture. Indeed, what are the chances for Melania to convince the Americans of the weight of her opinion if her husband, without hesitation in expressions, scolds all his opponents on Twitter, and her stepson, Donald Trump, Jr., puts a "like" from Florida schools? (More: "Melania Trump tried to return to her duties as First Lady (but failed)")
It is difficult to withstand the onslaught of the American press and social media users, whose criticism of the authorities is written in their very DNA, especially for a person like Melania, who has never been involved in politics at all, but also in socially useful work. In this situation, on the shoulders of her team and those around her, there should be a double responsibility for the implementation of everything that she, as the first lady of the United States, says and proposes. But even such a generally commendable initiative of Donald Trump's wife as "Be best" is denigrated by the irresponsibility and unprofessionalism of her subordinates. And who, after this, can blame a woman who is not only a hostage to her position, but also has to endure persecution for what she actually takes the first steps in for apathy and lack of enthusiasm?
Photo: Getty Images
Video: Twitter (@mikehearn)
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