Last weekend I wrote that contrary to the silly speculation on social media, the First Lady isn’t missing. Monday night Melania surfaced, though the press was shut out, as she attended a reception paying tribute to Gold Star families at the White House. She tweeted out some pictures to document her presence.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 5, 2018
From what I can see, she looks fine. As you might expect, she is dressed in black and sitting in the front row next to her husband. The president awkwardly tried to joke about the speculation over her absence since her recent surgery.
A person inside a White House event tonight told CNN that President Trump made a light-hearted joke about first lady Melania Trump’s extended absence from public view, saying the media was asking: “Where’s Melania?”
He went on for a minute or so, saying the media was speculating where she has been. The President asked at one point, “Did she leave him?” before pointing out that Melania Trump was, in fact, sitting in the front row.
Washington Post reports Melania laughed along with the president. No doubt she is used to his sometimes odd jokes and statements.
According to one attendee, the president joked about the rumors that have circulated during his wife’s long absence and teased that they aren’t breaking up. “Isn’t that right, honey?” he asked as Melania Trump laughed from the front row. She made no official remarks during the event.
The families in attendance were excited to hear from the president and eager to see Melania. Trump assured those present that Melania wouldn’t miss the reception “for anything” and referred to her surgery as “a little problem”. (WaPo)
The president also said: “Melania had a little problem a couple weeks ago, but she wouldn’t miss this for anything.”
About 40 families participated in the candlelight ceremony in which the names of the fallen were read aloud. The event lasted more than two hours.
Several of the invitees commented on the first lady as they left. “She looked beautiful,” said Diana Pike of Phoenix, whose son was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. “She was dressed in black — and I don’t know how she walks in those heels.”
Lori Donahue of Gillette, Wyo., said she was touched by Melania Trump’s presence: “It meant a lot that this was her first since her surgery.” Donahue’s son, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Vrooman, was killed in Iraq.
The First Lady didn’t speak at the reception but did release a statement afterward. She points out that the families are the story, not herself.
“It was a privilege to welcome Gold Star Families to the White House today to recognize our Nation’s fallen heroes and their families,” she said in the statement. “To all those who have lost loved ones in service to our country, our nation grieves with you. It is a solemn reminder that we, the American people, are able to live as freely as we do because of the selfless sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.”
I think Melania’s spokeswoman summed it up nicely as she batted away criticism that the First Lady has been out of the spotlight. To most Americans, the press corps does, indeed, seem “rabid”.
“Mrs. Trump has always been a strong and independent woman who puts her family, and certainly her health above all else, and that won’t change over a rabid press corps,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told Fox News. “She’s confident in what she is doing and in her role, and knows the rest is just speculation and nonsense.”
But, wait. We can’t let politics escape even a good story about the First Lady. Hacktastic Stephanie Cutter, a former adviser to Michelle Obama, called the speculation about Melania “concern” and admitted she is popular and well-liked. Then she lowered the boom of criticism that America deserves transparency in the whereabouts of the First Lady.
“She holds a certain position in this country, and while we need to respect her privacy on personal issues, there needs to be some level of transparency,” Cutter said. “I can’t imagine a previous first lady disappearing for 24 days without some level of concern.”
What a dumb statement. Since when do Americans expect to know what the day to day whereabouts are of the First Lady? She doesn’t punch a time clock and hers is not an elected position. Laying low to recover from kidney surgery is hardly unreasonable behavior. She didn’t “disappear”, she was at the White House, where she lives, after her release from the hospital. Good heavens. We live in very silly times.
First lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance since surgery for a kidney ailment at a White House event Monday night honoring service members killed in action. https://t.co/6iXsOgxoC3 pic.twitter.com/uuZayxBJyI
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 5, 2018