Belfast Telegraph

I get the feeling poor Melania wishes Donald Trump's campaign to become President had run out of steam a long time ago

By Lindy McDowell

It's Melania I feel sorry for. I'm not sure her heart's entirely in it. When she first began to command media attention, way back when her husband Donald initially signalled his intention to run for President, newspaper pictures showed a woman with a dazzling, but fixed, smile of someone indulgently going through the motions.

We've all been there. Okay, not to the steps of the White House exactly.

But we all know how these things can build.

Your partner's got him or herself a pair of running shoes and they've suddenly lost the run of themselves. Enthused by progress in the first week of their new exercise programme, they're already talking ambitiously about the Belfast marathon in May.

And then, after that - who knows? Maybe a triathlon or two. How hard can it be?

So, you smile and nod encouragement, because in your heart of hearts you know it's unlikely to even go as far as the first fun run, isn't it?

Did Melania feel, or hope, or indeed assume, that when Donald launched his race for the White House, he would similarly run out of steam very early on and, having thus worked the Oval Office power-trip thing out of his system, he, she and the family Trump could then return to normal?

Or what passes for normal in Trump Tower.

Instead, like Forrest Gump, Donald just ran and ran and ran.

Even after he tripped up, even after he plumbed the depths and sank to all sorts of new lows, nothing ever seemed to stop him. On and on and on he went, the Duracell Bunny of American politics.

Through all this, Melania's dazzling, fixed smile never wavered. But in her eyes you occasionally glimpsed a fleeting flash of nervous tension. Or, to put it more precisely, terror. Please make this stop.

Maybe I'm misreading Melania. Maybe she's loving every moment of the attention. As a former model, she's unlikely to fear the cameras. She looks fabulous, and she knows she looks fabulous.

But the position of First Lady calls for more than high cheekbones. All those speeches she's going to have to make. Carving out a FLOTUS role in the extremely impressive footsteps of Michelle Obama.

It isn't going to be easy.

Former First Ladies (how twee that title sounds!) have made their mark in different ways. They've espoused various worthy causes and made them their own. Hillary even wanted to make the White House her own.

Would it be such an awful thing if Melania decided instead to take a back seat and pass on the opportunity to carve out a role for herself?

While she has been smiley and supportive throughout the presidential campaign, what I've liked about her is that she hasn't gone down the full Cherie Blair, Samantha Cameron and, indeed, early Hillary route of gazing upon her man with seeming undiluted adoration. Cherie used to glow at her Tony like a shepherd at the nativity.

Trump will definitely be a very different type of American President. But will Melania be a very different type of First Lady?

Thus far, we haven't got a real sense of her personality. In terms of what she thinks and feels, she doesn't, as the Americans say, share a lot. Then again, Trump does enough 'sharing' for an entire nation.

Over the course of the next four years, Melania will be endlessly scrutinised and assessed, her every move and utterance analysed. For those who are politically passionate themselves, that alone would be daunting enough.

But she will also be endlessly compared...

And Michelle Obama is undoubtedly a very tough act to follow.

Just one of the reasons why I feel sorry for Melania.

Spare a thought for James sorting out this mess

Speaking of people I feel sorry for... James Brokenshire. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting that.

From what may have appeared a fairly placid gig in Northern Ireland, Mr Brokenshire (how apt the name) is suddenly thrust into the hot seat, the driving seat and the unenviable position of having to sort this mess.

A week ago, the Secretary of State could have walked down Royal Avenue without anyone knowing who he was.

Now he’s centre-stage in our latest crisis and his face is everywhere.

Welcome to the madness, Mr Brokenshire.

Stench from ‘cash for ash’ fiasco shames us all

Lost amid all the debate, argument and controversy over the Renewable Heat Incentive fiasco is the fact that this scheme was presumably devised to help the environment. It would be fair to say it hasn’t done a lot for the atmosphere in Stormont.

What fascinates me is that it took so long before reports filtered through to the news media of how the scheme was being abused.

So many people must have been aware of the money-making loophole. Yet they didn’t come forward. It’s not exactly an uplifting reflection of our society’s honesty, is it?

Belfast Telegraph


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