T The most notable thing about Melania Trump's tenure as first lady so far has been her absence: it took her five months to move from New York to the White House, a spell never seen for a modern first lady.
Rarely seen and even more rarely heard, the former model may not be as popular as her predecessor Michelle Obama, but she is much more popular than her husband. Unfortunately for his Republican administration, he seems to have little interest in using that popularity to do anything substantial with the charge.
It is not at all clear what can be expected from a first lady in 2018, given that the role is ill-defined, involuntary and, notably, at a time when it has expanded to be a near full-time occupation that resembles to political subrogation, unpaid.
What is clear is that Melania, who greeted her husband's elections, won with "tears" and not joy, "according to Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, he is in good company because of his antipathy towards the position.
The role of the first lady has evolved significantly since Martha Washington established the mold by regularly representing visiting dignitaries and members of Congress during the presidency of George Washington, but she also set a precedent by becoming irritated with her duties, trusting a niece who felt "more like a state prisoner than anything else."
Even in the nineteenth century, when there were far fewer expectations for the first ladies than at present, many, according to the historian and biographer of the first lady Jean HBaker, "they were not very enthusiastic about the idea that they had come to the White House because they had said, 'Yes, I want', to their husbands."
Louisa Adams, the wife born in London to John Quincy Adams, and the only other woman born abroad besides Melania, reportedly spent her time in the White House depressed and bingeing chocolates. More than a century later, Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Truman, refused to give press conferences while in the White House because, as she said: "I am not the chosen one, I have nothing to say to the public."
But for the television era, Bess had become a kind of exception by counteracting the increasing duties of the first ladies. At that time Eleanor Roosevelt had established a watermark for what presidential wives were capable of.
Other first ladies, such as Lady Bird Johnson with her solo whistlestop tour of 47 US cities, Jackie Kennedy with her iconic status, and Hillary Clinton with her open impulse in favor of health reform, reformulated the role even more . Since then, the public appearances of spouses in the election campaign and in the White House have only become more central to the presidential strategy, even when they were less overtly political.
In that sense Melania fits perfectly into the tradition of American first ladies, according to Baker, who wrote a book about Mary Todd Lincoln.
"We are at a moment in terms of all kinds of public policies in which we are receding with respect to what we want as a progressive society," he said. He said. "And it seems to me that First Lady Trump reflects it."
Today, the first lady's perch may be one of the most influential in the country, with higher rates of name recognition than vice presidents, according to recent data from the White House Transition Project, a non-partisan group that provides information to the new White House Staff
Melania's predecessor in the White House capitalized on this with no less effect, as Barack Obama recalled to the Americans in a conversation recently launched with David Letterman on Friday.
"One of the things that Michelle discovered, somehow faster than I did, was part of her ability to lead the country, it has nothing to do with legislation, it has nothing to do with regulations, it has to to see with shaping attitudes, shaping culture, increasing awareness, "said the former president.
At the end of her husband's administration, Michelle was among the most popular political figures in the country. His speech at the Democratic National Convention was tweeted more than those of the presidential candidates.
On the contrary, what could have been an impressive political debut for Melania at the Republican National Convention was marred by the revelation that parts of her speech appeared to have been lifted from an address given by Michelle in 2008. Her speeches Publics have been rare since then and their carefully selected statements have been dubbed "Instagram's first lady".
Where Melania has spoken, I have often been ill-advised. Take, for example, your public dispute with Trump's first wife, Ivana, about who is the real first lady, or her much-criticized campaign to end cyberbullying, a mission that (given her husband's reputation as "the most powerful troll in the world ") was widely perceived as deaf.
A recent tweet that marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday in which he said "I have the honor of being First Lady of a nation that continually strives for equality and justice for all" was similarly criticized by the feeling that he was trying to hide the truth about Trump and the record of his administration.
However, she should not respond to her husband's mistakes, according to Lauren A Wright, author of On On behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House communication strategy today. Nor should we, Wright said, ignore the ways in which he has rebelled against the recent convention.
Unlike other first recent ladies who said goodbye to salaried jobs to satisfy the demands of one that they did not choose and were not compensated, Melania has not been in a hurry to please anyone.
"Somehow, she is avoiding the pressure of these first ladies to be these promoters of their husbands," Wright said, adding: "Seen in this way, Melania is a lady as modern as the first recent ladies we have seen, it's just very different. "
Recent staff announcements – Melania has hired policy and operations directors along with a communications assistant for her East Wing press team – it could well indicate a move to be more active in the role, although the idea that she might publicly disagree with her husband in politics is surely a fantasy.
In fact, the main lesson of one year's misguided liberal hope in Trump's daughter, Ivanka, seems to be that, although it proved to be a powerful tool to attract public favor towards him, Tru's political conversations they only go in one direction: his.