Jim Mattis / Flickr ...
Jim Mattis / Flickr

Donald Trump complained to “Christian” and Fox News host Mike Huckabee about the “tremendous abuse” that his wife Melania has taken from the press, i.e., her wearing stiletto heels into a national disaster area was critiqued in October:

“She’s taken tremendous abuse,” Trump said in the interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Trinity Broadcasting Network. “She wants to look, out of respect for the White House, wants to look good leaving the front entrance to the White House. So she dresses up and she puts on formal shoes, high heels, and she leaves the White House going to Texas.”

Trump said his wife is a private person and “she doesn’t need this,” meaning the criticism. “But she does like to help people. She sees how important it is.”

Katherine Jellison, an Ohio University history professor who studies first ladies, said other presidents’ wives had experience in the political spotlight where everything is dissected, unlike Melania Trump, whose professional experience before the White House largely consisted of fashion runways, red carpets and motherhood.

“This kind of scrutiny that Melania Trump is encountering as first lady and follows every first lady is a new experience for her,” Jellison said. “And another difference is she’s married to a man who is quick to respond to anything he sees as a slight or a criticism. I guess that includes comments regarding his wife.”

Critiquing a former model on a fashion choice scarcely seems to constitute “tremendous abuse” as that term is generally understood. However, bear in mind that Trump said to daughter Ivanka, also about the press, “Baby, they’re killing you,” again, a reference to the fact that apparently Trump’s behavior and that of his family is supposed to be beyond reproach, even though they are all participants in what is essentially a fishbowl experience, life in the White House.

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