Saturday, Sep 22, 2018
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Wynne Everett

At least no one was talking about her shoes this time

  • APTOPIX-Melania-Trump

    First lady Melania Trump walks to her vehicle as she arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., after visiting the Upbring New Hope Children Center run by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in McAllen, Texas.


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    Wynne Everett

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I have so many questions about the coat.

That coat Melania Trump wore to board a flight to Texas Thursday, where she visited a child-immigrant detention center near the Mexican border.

It was an army-green, barn-type jacket with “I don’t really care, do u?” on the back.

First, a coat in June?

A $39 off-the-rack coat? On Melania Trump? In public?

That’s, of course, the tip of the question iceberg here.

The First Lady’s spokesman dismissed what should have seemed like obvious and anticipated questions from reporters who witnessed her departure.

“It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message,” the spokesman said.

Well, no, not hidden at all. It’s painted right on there.

It’s baffling how Mrs. Trump could have botched the message she wanted to send on her way to Texas. Once she got there, the First Lady displayed genuine concern for the children who have been separated from their parents who were arrested for crossing the border illegally. How often do they get to talk to their parents? How long do they have to stay there? What is done to make sure their emotional needs are met?

This woman has been the quiet class act (grading on a curve) of her husband’s administration.

She was, by all accounts, the one who did really care about the children in these detention facilities. Many observers have credited her for pushing her husband to change his mind and issue an executive order ending the separation practice.

One can argue that the world should pay much less attention to what first ladies — and female politicians, business executives, celebrities, and moms in your neighborhood — are wearing. That’s a reasonable argument. But the fact is that what first ladies wear has always been an important political statement.

And it’s even more important when you’re a first lady who used to work in the fashion industry and who regularly embraces using wardrobe choices as a statement. Remember the gorgeous white Herve Pierre hat she chose to pair with her Michael Kors suit in honor of the French president’s visit in April?

But that coat? Who in the world let her walk out of the White House in that coat? And how did it even end up in the wardrobe of a woman known for her designer style?

I mean, did she borrow that from Betsy DeVos? Was it something the education secretary meant to wear to a Title IX enforcement meeting, but got left behind in an airport or something?

Is it a hand-me-down (hand-me-up?) from Kellyanne Conway? She might be the queen of not caring.

Did Ivanka leave it hanging in a White House coat closet after figuring it clashed with the “I really don’t mind” expression she regularly wears?

Did she borrow a page from her husband’s playbook and figure that our furor about the horrible, awful thing she chose to wear could drown out coverage of the horrible, awful things her husband chooses to do for at least a news cycle or two?

All the questions seem to lead to two possible answers: Mrs. Trump either did not understand what wearing that coat would say, or she did. It is nearly impossible to imagine she could have made a mistake, dashing out the door in an absentmindedly chosen stupid coat.

So, what is it she wants us to think she refuses to care about? Mr. Trump claimed it was a jab at the media, of course. Others have suggested she meant she no longer cares about him.

Let the guessing game of interpreting the message sent by the First Lady’s fashion choices rage on, I suppose. Meanwhile, even though the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their migrant parents at the border has officially ended, countless children remain in facilities just like the one Mrs. Trump visited Thursday.

Get ready for rack after rack of jackets emblazoned with “Yes, I care. And you should too.”

Wynne Everett is an associate editor for The Blade. Contact her at weverett@theblade.com419-724-6467, or on Twitter @WynneEverett.

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