The men who elected Trump are the worst humans on earth
Trust me, it’s not Melania you need to be worrying about
CLEVELAND – I was standing about 20 yards away from Melania Trump when she strode onto the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena to whoops and hollers from the crowd – the mainly male, mainly chino-wearing crowd of frat boys and former frat boys and Republican men who tried in vain to give me their number at a casino bar the night before.
Somewhere between Mr. Trump’s “We Are the Champions,” entrance and Melania’s mention of the values her parents instilled in her – travel, business, and fashion – I realized that this wasn’t about America’s potential First Lady at all.
This show – this speech, this heady week in Cleveland and the months that have preceded it – are all about Republican men.
They hang on her every word and cheer her well signposted pay-offs. They worship Donald for landing her. They respect him for everything in his psychology and biography that permitted him to be here, in Ohio on July 18, 2016, introducing her.
“Poor, Melania,” I thought, appraising her audience. No one, not even the female population, was listening to a word that fell clumsily from her glossed mouth. In fact, when she pronounced “adversaries,” like “advisories,” myself and a female photographer seated next to me were the only ones in the near vicinity to let out a sympathetic sigh.
Occasional faltering aside, she did what she came to do – soften the edges of her husband’s persona. It didn’t include any remarkable anecdotes like him reading their son bedtime stories, but I wanted to believe it. Not for him. But for her. I, unlike the vast majority of her audience, wanted to find more than an ex-supermodel in a two-thousand dollar dress.
It will be tempting to spend the next five months agonizing about what we should make of Melania, but if you were in the hall and you heard Rep. Tom Cotton proclaim, “Help is on the way,” and Rudy Giuliani shout, “There is no black America,” and some senate-hopeful from Colorado drop a sexist slur about Hillary and her penchant for pantsuits, you’d realize that focusing on Melania means it is you who has been duped.
The questions about Trump’s badness are much deeper and darker than the debate about whether Melania is just another submissive third wife, or whether the junior speechwriter her husband employed to put words on the auto-cue lifted lines from Michelle Obama.
At the time of writing this piece I’ve been at the Republican Convention for 24 hours, and more than five 30-something men have asked me for my number in coffee queues and outside bathrooms.
Christian Bale circa American Psycho lookalikes in Ferragamo loafers. The freckle-faced sons of good-old-boys in Brooks Brothers. Recognizable media personalities with wedding rings. Cisgender middle-aged white men, in all their bloated, age-spotted, silver-haired glory. All offering their number, a position at a well-known media outlet, or their hotel room.
It would be easy to eviscerate Melania Trump. But instead, I think I’ll just leave it at the men in chinos giving me, a twenty-two year old liberal, their number. These are the people who have elected Donald Trump, and the ones who are making remarks like ‘That’s a First Lady I could get behind’ in the bars of Cleveland.
These are the people we should be scrutinizing in the months ahead – the people who deserve our brutal, unforgiving analysis. Not Melania.