Another day, another New York Times op-ed sparking a firestorm on social media. On Thursday, the paper published "The Quiet Radicalism of Melania Trump," in which Kate Andersen Brower — author of the book First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies — argues that Melania Trump is "radical" because she subverts our expectations for how a first lady should behave. In response, Twitter largely scorned her take, and offered some scathing responses.
"She may not be progressive," Bower wrote of Melania. "She may not be political. And yet Mrs. Trump may end up doing more than any of her predecessors to upend our expectations of the slavish devotion a first lady must display toward her husband."
Bower argued that Melania's reclusiveness and lack of enthusiasm for political projects (except for her anti-bullying campaign) is subversive, too. "Her apparent antipathy toward the job has made her more willing to ignore the rules and traditions that govern it," she writes.
In one of the sections that's inspired the most backlash, the op-ed compares Melania to Michelle Obama. "Maybe Mrs. Trump is more like Michelle Obama than people think," Bower says. "Though the mutual affection of the Obamas was obvious, Mrs. Obama was also the first first lady to challenge people to accept a woman who refused to play the role of the saccharine, adoring spouse."
Here are some highlights from the social media reaction to Bower's op-ed.
Melania May Be Different, But That's A Bad Thing
"Antipathy toward the job" is really not what we want.
About That Michelle Obama Comparison
Jeanine Pirro is a former judge and currently hosts Fox News' show Justice with Judge Jeanine.
That Time When Melania Was "Political"
When she went on the Joy Behar Show in 2011 and spouted birtherism. "It would be very easy if President Obama just show [his birth certificate]," she said then to Behar, and argued that Obama's live birth record was "not a birth certificate."
And That Other Time
After the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released, Melania defended Trump's words and actions to CNN's Anderson Cooper. She called it "boy talk" and blamed Billy Bush: "He was led on — like, egged on — from the host to say dirty and bad stuff." She also said that the sexual assault accusations leveled at him by other women were "lies."
Melania Isn't Setting A New Example
It's an old example.
Stop Trying To Make "Fetch" Happen
It's not going to happen.
This is right in line with that notorious Vanity Fair cover depicting Melania eating a bowl of silver jewelry.
Bower's Take Looks Worse After The Women's Marches
It should be said that The Times did extensively cover the Women's Marches over the weekend, too, offering up analysis, highlighting voices from across the country and photos from around the world, and doing traditional coverage.
Bower's Take Looks Worse After Michelle Obama
For the record, the Times' op-eds have featured many pieces praising Michelle Obama. In November 2010, Lauren Hall called her a great role model for students, praising how she was "glamorous but accessible, maternal but cool." In February 2012, Ezekiel J. Emanuel argued that her anti-childhood obesity campaign had accomplished "a lot." In October 2016, Frank Bruni praised her "power" and "dignity," saying she had become "the 2016 race’s moral authority." "To the First Lady, With Love," written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gloria Steinem, Jon Meacham, and Rashida Jones, wasn't in the editorial section (it was published in The New York Times Magazine), but it's also a notable tribute.
Op-Eds Like This Normalize Her
This is a critique that's been aimed at The Times a lot lately.