Critic's Notebook: Melania Trump's Campaign Speech Goes From Vapid to Unintentionally Hilarious
In her first campaign speech since the convention, the aspiring first lady urged voters to "treat each other with respect and kindness," as the nation burst into hysterical laughter.
A mere five days before the election, Melania Trump emerged from hiding to deliver her first campaign speech since the Republican National Convention. Considering how well that one went, it's not surprising she waited this long.
This speech, at least, seemed to be wholly original, although you wouldn't have been surprised if she had begun by saying, "Four score and seven years ago." On the other hand, it was so vapidly platitudinous and basic that if her speechwriters were cribbing from anyone, it was Dr. Seuss.
The aspiring first lady spoke in Berwyn, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, and to say that she seemed out of place is an understatement. This is not exactly a woman who shops at Wal-Mart and enjoys breakfast at IHOP. But the town is in Pennsylvania, a state her husband desperately needs to win. The only other states whose names she managed to drop were Ohio and North Carolina. Any guesses why?
Melania took the stage to the strains of "Aquarius," an appropriate choice since the event felt more like a love-in than a political speech. Indeed, she spoke so often of "love" that it made you think she had taken a hit of Ecstasy before going on.
She began by saying it had been 500 days since her husband announced his candidacy (hasn't the time just flown by?) after descending on the magical escalator in Trump Tower.
"This is not an ordinary campaign. It is a movement!" she declared, and there are plenty of voters who would be happy to inform her exactly what kind of movement it most closely resembles. "He will make a fantastic president!"
She blissfully referred to her "partnership" with her husband, although disappointingly failed to provide the details of their prenup. Talking about her childhood in Slovenia surrounded by "beautiful rivers and forests" — you could imagine woodland animals serenading her with Disney tunes — she said that as a young girl she dreamed of going to America.
"America meant that if you could dream it, you could become it," she told the cheering crowd, which is certainly true if your dream is marrying a billionaire and living in a golden palace.
Discussing the blood, sweat and tears of being a highly paid fashion model in Paris, Melania described herself as a "young entrepreneur." She proudly referred to becoming an American citizen in 2006, a year after she married Trump. So at least now we know the best path to citizenship.
She said about her husband, "He certainly knows how to shake things up," which is appropriate if the definition of "shaking things up" includes destroying the fabric of American society.
She finally got around to disclosing her plans should she become first lady, which have something to do with being "an advocate for women and children." She promised to provide them with a "beautiful life" so they can "drink freely of love," which, considering her Eastern European accent, had a distinctly vampirish vibe.
The proceedings became truly surreal when she informed the crowd that social media "can have a bad side" (really, Melania, you think?) and that "our culture has gotten too mean and too rough." It made you wonder if she actually knows who she's married to. She added that she would "work hard to improve everyday life for women." (Just a suggestion, Melania, but the best way to start would be by keeping them far away from your husband.)
Delivering the absurdly ironic sound bite that will have comedy writers working overtime the next few days — you can be sure that Laura Benanti will be reprising her impression for Stephen Colbert — Melania declared, "We must treat each other with respect and kindness, even when we disagree."
That is, she forgot to add, unless Donald gets elected.