Dispatched to speak on his behalf for the first time since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, Donald Trump's wife Melania has made one point clear: The public should not feel sorry for her. It's an interesting point in a political world which often asks wives to front for their husbands in the face of infidelity. We've seen it with everyone from Huma Abedin to Hillary Clinton — moments wherein wives are called to both explain and lovingly accept their husband's behavior. But Melania doesn't need your sympathy, and in interview in which she otherwise blames the media and Clinton for the Trump campaign's implosion, this was perhaps her one valid point.
In the CNN interview, Melania told Anderson Cooper that she had accepted her husband's apology, and that she hoped the American public would do the same. But she also dismissed Donald's description of sexual assault as "boy talk," further blaming "the opposition" for the accusations against him.
After Melania and Cooper's back-and-forth, in which Cooper repeatedly asked her to address her husband's vile discussion of sexual assault, she finished on this note: "I'm very strong. And people — they don't really know me. People think and talk about me like, 'Oh, Melania, oh, poor Melania.' Don't feel sorry for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I can handle everything."
And perhaps the public shouldn't feel sorry for her. If voters are to take her words at face value — that she is a strong, independent woman — then indeed, we need not feel sorry for her. To offer up such sympathy would put her in a similar role to those political wives who have been asked (or forced by their husband's campaign) to defend their infidelity in the past. If the public is able to view Melania as an independent person — as opposed to merely part of a unit with her husband — then we can't expect or blame her for taking his side or, conversely, her own. It again falls to personal decision, and that decision leaves no sympathy required.
And though it has never inspired such vitriol, the Republican nominee has said and done plenty of other things that would normally illicit sympathy for Melania. But if she can truly "handle everything," then she can handle this, and likely has dealt with similar for many years. Her decision to "accept his apology" is therefore hers alone — sympathy for her isn't required for that to be valid.
To inexplicably tie her to her husband in that way is to dismiss her capabilities as an independent person, and being the wife of a presidential nominee requires no sympathy.