First Lady Melania Trump doesn't raise her voice about just anything — so when she does speak out, you can usually expect it to draw a significant response. The responses aren't always positive, though. Now, for example, the responses to Melania's statement about family separation roundly blast her for, as the commentators see it, feigning sympathy for a situation in which she is complicit.
The major news over the weekend was that, as CNN reported, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that over 2,000 migrant children had been forcibly separated from their parents at the United States' southern border. This has drawn a flood of angry responses from people across the political spectrum who believe, essentially, that no matter what else is going on in the immigration debate, separating families is wrong. On Sunday, then, Melania Trump responded to this heartbreaking controversy with a statement calling for "heart" in government.
"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
The responses that began to roll in were varied, but they all generally share the same message — that Trump's statement was basically just a nicer way of wording her husband's policy.
"This, from Melania, is just a softer way of restating Trump's position, ie, that family separations are the fault of Dems who won't join Republicans in giving Trump the concessions he wants in exchange for ending the policy," wrote Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent on Twitter, adding that it wasn't clear how many Republicans would actually go for those concessions themselves.
A more fiery comment came from comedian Kathy Griffith, who, as Newsweek wrote, drew a lot of ire in 2017 when she published a picture of herself holding up a fake, bloodied Donald Trump head. "F*** you, Melanie. You know damn well your husband can end this immediately...you feckless complicit piece of sh*t," Griffith wrote on Twitter.
Deadline laid out the references that Griffith made in her post — referring to the first lady as Melanie, for example, which reminded readers of the time that Donald Trump referred to her that way on Twitter, and how she used the same word ("feckless") as comedian Samantha Bee did to describe Ivanka Trump. Even for those who didn't follow those news stories, though, the power of the comedian's anger still comes through.
A more measured, policy-related response came from NBC News reporter Benjy Sarlin, who noted that Melania Trump's comment actually doesn't adequately explain the situation. "[The policy of separating families] is not due to lack of a bipartisan immigration reform bill," Sarlin wrote on Twitter. "This is due to a specific White House decision with this exact consequence in mind. It could be reversed today by the White House without Congress doing anything."
Another response came from a voice who's spoken out about Donald Trump before, but who doesn't mention his wife so frequently: Tony Schwartz, the man who ghostwrote Trump's The Art of the Deal and then came out to vehemently warn the public about the dangers that he believed a Trump presidency would bring. According to Schwartz, Melania Trump fits into a family pattern.
"To be clear: Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Jr. and Eric -- every bit as heartless, greedy and evil as Trump himself. And 100% complicit," Schwartz wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
As the first lady, Melania Trump doesn't hold a position that can influence policy through the tools of government. In a personal sense, though, as the president's wife, first ladies have done so in the past. According to the responses to Trump comment, many people don't believe that she will attempt to sway any policy this time.