As anyone with a working pair of ears or eyes is aware, the Trump White House has not been having a good week, or month, actually, you might as well say year. Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been plagued with embarrassing missteps, mocked statements, and the ever-present shadow of scandal.
Though FOX News would have us believe the American stock market and job market are both in fine shape, it’s pretty hard for me to want to pat anyone on the back while I turn away from all the other serious problems.
The repeal and replace of Obamacare? A disaster in the making, and the latest attempt is in serious danger of failing for the second time. Tax reform? Not a whisper of progress. And Russia? I can’t even start. It’s so scandalous and salacious that I find it hard to process that people haven’t just walked themselves to prison to save us the trouble down the road. Every headline feels closer to disaster in Washington on all fronts.
However, the sliver of good news that this president has failed to highlight is his wife’s popularity. Polls are showing that Melania Trump’s approval ratings have climbed 14 points since Inauguration Day, to 51 per cent. This is particularly noteworthy because her husband’s popularity has been doing the exact opposite and heading swiftly in the opposite direction. (In a different poll, he is shown to have a 36 per cent approval rating, the lowest six-month rating of any president in the past 70 years. And yes, this is me sitting in smug satisfaction that I was right about him all along and that those in denial might finally be starting to realize it. Please, leave me to my simple pleasures.)
Apparently as the first lady settles into her new role, more voters seem to like what they see. Back in August 2016, only 35 per cent of Americans viewed her favourably. For me, the 16-point increase is that much more impressive because of the current political climate and her husband’s unpopularity. Melania has managed to win over voters among every measured demographic – she’s up in percentage points among Democrats, Republicans, men, women, older voters, and younger voters. While she is much more well liked among Donald’s Republican supporters, she is still doing okay among liberals and independents.
Whatever she’s doing seems to be working, and it probably wouldn’t hurt her husband to take note. It seems that for every one of his foot-in-mouth moments, Melania counters with a stately appearance to counteract the immaturity. She even seems to have overcome early criticism about her reluctance to move to Washington and her debut speech at the Republican convention, which was a complete carbon-copy of an earlier Michelle Obama speech and a huge gaffe by the White House speech writing staff.
As in politics, and life in general, this popularity poll points to what is widely believed but seldom discussed: a wife can be an invaluable asset. Whether the wife of a foreign diplomat or a carpenter or a taxi driver, her power should not be lowballed, even if you’re a brash, narcissistic president of the most powerful country in the world. A guy’s wife is, at least in a lot of cases, the social secretary of the household. She can be the difference between a husband being liked or disliked. She’s often the one whose good books you have to be in if you want something, regardless of the husband’s profession.
The role of wife has evolved over the years, thankfully, and you don’t need your husband’s permission or approval to exert authority. Many an ordinary wife, some friends of mine, can be a force most boys’ club politicians wouldn’t stand a chance against in the toughness department.
Like lots of husbands who underestimate their wives, Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from his – a woman who, despite posing for pictures some consider to be in bad taste, speaks several languages, has carved out a successful modeling career, enjoys visiting children’s hospitals, and has avoided the same negative blowback from her husband’s bad behaviour that other women may have fallen victim to.
She’s no Michelle Obama, don’t get me wrong, but she’s growing on me. I can’t help but admire a woman who can listen to Donald Trump speak and keep a straight face – that’s one tough cookie.