In 2016, we were introduced to a carefully-crafted image of Donald Trump’s third wife, Melania, as a private, family-oriented wife and mother. We read about her self-consciousness over her ability to speak English. So many people felt sorry for her, as a reserved former model married to the bombastic Trump, who is 20 years older.
All of it was stage craft. The Art of Her Deal: the Untold Story of Melania Trump, sheds the veneer of a shy and private Melania away to expose the inner political operative who wanted Trump to run for president and win. The image of Melania Trump got blown away as Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan looked deeper into Melania’s life.
Evidently, the current First Lady is hardly the damsel in distress that her cultivated image suggests. In fact, her image is, in many ways, as much an illusion as her husband’s. According to Jordan, Melania used the current president’s extra-marital affairs as leverage to get more money. And that’s just the beginning of the character striptease.
The preview suggests she negotiated more favorable terms for the financial security of Barron, something closer to equal to that of the older Trump children.
Apparently, Melania is also so in love with America she wanted to secure dual citizenship (American/Slovenian) for Barron so that he can work for the family business in Europe. That raises other questions, given the mixed feelings Slovenians have about the Trumps.
Remember when Donald bragged that she is fluent in five languages? Jada Yuan, in her article about the upcoming book,
“Photographers and others who have worked with her over the years — including native speakers of Italian, French, and German — told me that they never heard her use more than a few words of those languages,” Jordan writes.
According to the author, she can only speak two languages: Slovenian and English. The degree of fluency in English may be a matter of interpretation.
When you read through the excerpt of Melania’s life story, a pattern similar to that of Donald’s emerges. It’s the story of someone who has “transactional” friendships. They end abruptly the moment their “value” ceases. Apparently, her old friends in Slovenia never heard from her after she began her modelling career.
That thing about her being a “world class” model. Uh, doesn’t coincide with the facts.
Even the story of Donald and Melania’s meeting is just a story. It seems she was his mistress for much longer than their presidential narrative wanted us to believe.
“Multiple sources, including a German modeling agent she was working for that year, told Jordan that they had heard Melania was already dating Trump before the timeline they laid out.”
Melania Trump could be described as more similar to her husband than appearance suggests, and speaking of her appearance; it’s fake too, despite her denials. Photographers say they’ve seen the scars.
This is not because Donald made her do it. Melania developed an affinity for “alternative facts” when reporters incorrectly guessed she was younger than she really was. She didn’t bother correcting them because it isn’t like she told them a lie.
The taint of alternative facts pursued Melania all through the 2016 election and beyond. Those stories about Melania dreading Donald’s win and the move to DC are as untrue as anything Donald Trump says.
It was Melania who provoked him into running for president and was his secret campaign weapon. She presented as someone with Old Europe conservative values blended with a thoroughly modern woman who knows a good piece of leverage when she sees it.
She presented better than any of Trump’s other surrogates could have during what one can only call a crisis. When the Access Hollywood tape came out, she sat down with Anderson Cooper and explained how it was just boy talk. Oh and while we’re at it, Donald didn’t know he was being recorded.
After Trump’s inauguration, she’s been going all in with what Donald says and does as president. Based on her interviews with 100 sources, Mary Jordan reveals that Melania is very much the political operative and is Trump’s most influential advisor.
That may explain why her opposition to cyber-bullying ended with a hashtag and why she was silent when her husband indulged in hate speech; justified separating asylum-seeking families, and put children in cages. Maybe that explains why she didn’t share the horror and anger most of us feel every time there is a new report about the horrendous conditions that immigrants live in and the increased risk of being infected with COVID-19.
As a top advisor and operative, Melania apparently wants Donald to win a second term. She was even planning to do some in-person fundraising in March. But darn – the coronavirus meant that while Donald was telling people to go about business as usual, his precious Melania couldn’t go on her fundraising tour.
While she uses the power of her position to help her husband in his campaign, she has power over him as well. The president’s extra-marital affairs gave her leverage. Also, Melania outlasted Trump’s previous wives, so of course, that counts for something in terms of a pay raise from her contract.
Melania’s image gets played to the hilt, that image of Melania as a thoroughly modern feminist who has super negotiation skills. We were played during the initial stages of Trump’s presidency. While it was true that Melania and Baron stayed in New York so he could finish the school year there; Melania used that time to re-negotiate the terms of their prenup. This also showed that when it comes to spending other people’s money, like on things like the extra Secret Service, Melania is very much like her husband.
She used the leverage of Donald’s infidelity effectively, something other grifters may appreciate.
Actually, the easiest kind of negotiation is the one where you have more leverage. Someone with actual negotiation skill knows how to achieve comparable results without the leverage or less of it. One could look at the way DC Mayor Muriel Bowser negotiated the removal of invading forces in D.C. as an example of a truly skilled negotiator at work.
Melania, like her husband, is image savy. She knows how to play Trump world’s favorite parlor game: owning liberals with lies, clothes and hashtags like #BeBest.
But now that her secrets are out, Melania won’t be as effective. The shy, meek, innocent Melania is exposed as someone very much like her grifter husband – right down to the tense relationship with the truth.
The next time Donald does something horrible to immigrants and further tightens the screws to erase the human right to seek asylum, Melania won’t be able to hide behind the image of a “conservative” First Lady who is all about home and family.
Donald is paying more than he would have paid had he been more discreet during his marriage with her than he was during their courtship. And we got two image-obsessed people who subscribe to inventing their own facts for the price of one.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.
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