Media punditologists love to regale you with their cliché insight about how living in the White House is like living in a bubble – the ultimate in isolation from reality. So it is time we say a good word about Melania Trump.
Because at the White House on Tuesday, the first lady made clear she is determined to continue her crusade to combat online bullying. She invited the officials of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Snap and Twitter to a White House roundtable discussion of the evils perpetuated by online bullying.
This was her first event devoted to the topic since she had first discussed it at the end of the 2016 campaign. She hosted this discussion at a time when the news is filled with allegations of her husband’s infidelities. And after all the world has seen how hard President Donald Trump has worked – both with his incessant online tweets and on the stump – to earn his reputation as America’s most famous bully.And so, as she greeted her guests Tuesday and challenged them to combat cyberbullying, the first lady knew we are all clucking about how difficult her anti-bullying battle must be, given that she’s obviously not divorced herself from the problem. So she addressed it directly.
“I am well-aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic,” the first lady told the social media representatives on Tuesday. “I have been criticized for my commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right. I am here with one goal: helping children and our next generation.”
In the campaign, and now in the White House, Trump has never been content to just defeat his opponents on the merits; he always has gone for the personal taunts and insults that descended to an unprecedented bottom-feeding level of bullying and even cruelty. He wasn’t content to just dabble in schoolyard nicknames when he campaigned against “Little” Marco Rubio and “Lying” Ted Cruz. When Cruz still posed a challenge, Trump insulted Cruz’s wife’s appearance – and suggested Cruz’s father had been linked to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. And he then famously branded his Democratic opponent “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.
Since his inauguration, Trump has made himself famous (or, more accurately, infamous) around the world for his intemperate name-calling tweets. He called North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, “Little Rocket Man” and then may have set a new terrible standard for global diplomacy by following up: “I would NEVER call him short and fat.”
So, especially given that cyber-sordid history, Melania Trump deserves to be praised for returning to her campaign promise and having the fortitude of finally going public with her determination to tackle cyberbullying.
Her husband’s most appalling bullying – unacceptable by any standard – occurred at a 2015 campaign rally when he cruelly ridiculed the physical impairment of a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who cannot use or control his arms.
“You gotta see this guy,” Trump told his audience, as he mimicked the journalist’s disability by bringing his arms up to his chest with wrists bent and hands dangling helplessly. And Trump mimicked the reporter’s voice, saying: “Aaahh, I don’t know what I said. Ahhh, I don’t remember!’” (TNS)