From what I’ve read, Melania Trump is getting good reviews for her speech to the GOP Convention, delivered in the Rose Garden last night. I thought the speech was too long and, at times, boring, but I was not part of the target audience.
The target audience was voters who are into empathy and haven’t detected enough of it from the president. Can an empathetic First Lady fill the gap? Probably not, but it was worth a try.
Melania opened the empathy fest by talking about victims of the Wuhan coronavirus. This was absolutely the right call. An empathy-based speech could not have commenced otherwise. It was also the right call to refer to the virus as Covid-19. This was not the speech in which to drive home Chinese culpability for the pandemic.
As the First Lady spoke, I thought of her address to the 2016 Convention. Of that speech, I wrote:
Mrs. Trump’s speech was okay — better than Teresa Heinz Kerry’s, but nowhere near as good as the wifely addresses of Michelle Obama and Anne Romney. She is, however, a beautiful woman with star quality. . . .
Naturally, Mrs. Trump was full of praise for her husband. But she failed to provide a single family anecdote that demonstrated a compassionate, or even particularly human side to the man.
At the time, I wondered whether Melania herself valued compassion and possessed warmth. We know now that she does, in spades, and her speech last night — which was better than okay — demonstrated this fact.
Yet, there was still little in the speech that demonstrated a compassionate side to her husband. She noted his presence on various trips in which she empathized with people in need and, of course, affirmed that he is working to combat the pandemic. But that was about it.
For that matter, there was little if anything in the speech that showed warmth between husband and wife. The speech expressed respect and admiration for the president, but no discernible warmth.
The speech would have been more effective had it conveyed a warmer marriage, but Melania Trump is genuine. She wasn’t going to fake it.
This is another reason why she is worthy of respect.