Before Melania Trump took the podium at the Republican convention Monday night to introduce the ‘softer side’ of her husband to the voting public, here’s what I knew about the Slovanian ex-model:
- She has a ‘thick vampire accent’ (Rolling Stone)
- She takes her style cues from House of Cards often appearing in ensembles that seem cribbed from the closet of Claire Underwood herself (Mic).
- The Internet has pictures her husband doesn’t want you to see.
What impression was I left with the morning after, even after the plagiarism scandal broke?
That, technically speaking, Melania did write her RNC speech herself. With as little help as possible. Just like she said she did.
My theory of what went down:
In much the same way she emulates Claire Underwood’s style, consciously or subconsciously, Melania set about writing her speech. Picture it: Melania, seated at her ornate gold desk, overlooking Manhattan, Googling ‘American Dream’ and ‘first lady speeches’. She viewed some excerpts on YouTube, took some notes, and, like an exchange student with a dubious grasp of annotation, got the sources muddied when when she sat down to write the draft.
The Melania Touch was evident in other aspects of her speech too. The lack of anecdotes, for example. One random convention goer, interviewed before the speech, had driven all the way from Rochester in the hopes of learning more about the little things – the ‘don’t-forget-to-brush-your- teeth’-type intimacies that couples share. Melania offered no such revelations, and in this neglect broke the cardinal rule of communication: show don’t tell.
If Melania had taken her cue from Michelle Obama’s penchant for spouse-themed zingers and talked about The Donald’s hair or grooming regimen, the credit would have been all her own. Even if she wasn’t comfortable with ribbing or deploying ‘American humour’, she could have instead charmed with a tale or two about Trump and his children. A ‘mini-me’ observation or anecdote about the similarities between Trump and Barron, their 10-year-old son, for example, would have done far more to illustrate her husband’s soft side than sweeping statements like ‘he has the kindness of simple goodness’.
As of yesterday, the media was bleating that Trump would have the head of whomever it was that signed off on the accursed speech. Meanwhile, you have to wonder: why did Melania, a political newbie with no penchant for public speaking, grab the reins with such confidence and ferocity? Didn’t anyone tell her that ‘reins’ is the English word for ‘a rope long enough to hang yourself’?