Last weekend, at the Tidal X 1015 concert in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nicki Minaj delivered a pointed critique that echoed a sentiment that quite a few share about Melania Trump. After reciting lyrics from “Win Again,” she said: “It’s O motherf—king K, ’cause Barack needed a Michelle, bitch, and Bill needed a motherf—king Hillary, bitch; you better pray to God you don’t get stuck with a motherf—king Melania. You n—gas want brainless bitches to stroke your motherf—king ego.”
When a fan on Twitter claimed that she “dragged” Melania Trump, Minaj wrote in response, “Wasn't ‘dragging.’ She seems nice. But a smart man knows he needs a certain ‘kind’ of woman when running for President/attempting greatness.”
Donald Trump is not a smart man. Shrewd as he may be, this presidential campaign has best highlighted Trump as an egotistical blowhard who whores for attention. So even if Melania had objections to Donald’s run, he doesn’t strike me as the type to be told what he can and cannot do. Ask any of his former campaign managers. Ask his current campaign manager.
There’s also the long-standing suspicion that Donald Trump didn’t expect to get this far with his presidential bid. Stephanie Cegielski, the former communications director of the Make America Great Again super PAC, wrote in xoJane.com, “Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now."
Donald Trump, presidential candidate, has long come across as a stunt that went too far. And when it comes to Melania, it seems as if she signed up to be a rich man’s wife, and if there were any grand entrance into public life for her, the entree point would have been a spot on The Real Housewives of New York City, not the pursuit of life as the Republican Jackie Kennedy. After all, she already had a QVC line going for her.
I don’t think she signed up for all this attention—notably being exploited by way of the New York Post’s publication of nude pictures that she had taken decades ago.
Still, to some extent, Melania has shown up—only the end result has been her humiliation. Look no further than her disastrous speech at the Republican National Convention, in which her speechwriter lifted heavily from remarks made by first lady Michelle Obama years prior. More recently, she re-emerged to talk to the press, but only to try and defuse accusations that her husband had sexually assaulted more than 10 women.
Their politics aside, there is a parallel between what Melania Trump just did for her husband and the fact that Hillary Clinton did the same thing for her husband, Bill Clinton. That said, Melania did manage to offer her own digs at her husband, quipping to CNN's Anderson Cooper: "Sometimes I say I have two boys at home. I have my young son and I have my husband."
As for Michelle Obama, she, too, has recently offered a critique about political spouses that one might easily assume applies to Melania Trump. When late-night host Stephen Colbert asked if she had any sympathy for political spouses, she answered: “Because if—you know, you have to be, you know, in it. If you’re in it, and if you don’t agree, you should have agreed before they ran. Bottom line is, if you didn’t agree with what Barack was saying, I would not support his run. So I stand there proudly, and I hope they are, too, standing with their spouses proudly. So no, no sympathy.”
Well, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump has largely served in the role some might have expected Melania Trump to fill. Earlier this year, Melania told GQ: “I chose not to go into politics and policy. Those policies are my husband’s job.”
As far as whether or not she has her own political opinions, she stressed that she did, only, “Nobody knows and nobody will ever know. Because that’s between me and my husband.”
It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone with as much wealth and access as Melania Trump enjoys, but as far as being a political spouse goes, she’s dealt with Donald Trump’s presidential run better than many might give her credit for. She’s been placed in a tough position—although, despite my own feelings about her husband and what he represents, I question whether she, as a political spouse, is functioning all that differently from how others function, particularly when met with scandal.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s only genuine display of humor at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner was at his wife’s expense, when he mocked the plagiarism fiasco. However, a spouse often serves as cover for what his or her significant other lacks as a politician and, in many cases, a human being. Melania didn’t marry a Barack, but the brainless, robotic caricature of her seems not only harsh but also not based in reality.
"I'm very strong," she explained to Cooper. "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. … I can handle everything."
I don’t want to pity Melania Trump, because ultimately, she married that man. Still, she’s been subjected to public humiliation throughout most of this campaign. She’s been gracious in spite of that and has refused to give in to weakness before the public. That’s more than we can say of her husband and many of her critics.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.