CLEVELAND — Donald Trump materialized in the shadows onstage at the convention hall, lights beneath his feet, illuminating him like a rock star or a deity—boxy suit notwithstanding.
Then he came into focus, shattering the fantasy.
But never mind that.
After a brief introduction (perhaps his briefest remarks of the campaign), Melania waltzed out, a vision in white silk, ruffles adorning her sleeves like wings—the Jackie O for our deranged, modern times.
“It’s a very nice welcome and we are excited to be with you at this historic convention,” she said, carefully.
Melania, of course, is an immigrant from Slovenia, the Central European nation state. Her English is imperfect, making a 15-minute speech on one of the biggest stages in America no small feat. To her credit, she handled every minute of it gracefully.
But what strange grace it is.
The purpose of this speech—the purpose of any appearance by a political spouse, but especially Melania—was the show us a kinder, softer side of Trump, the sort of side that only the woman who ostensibly sleeps next to him at night could know.
But we did not learn anything new about Donald Trump on Monday night.
We gleaned no new insights about his character or his quirks. Does Donald Trump read Barron Green Eggs and Ham at night before bed? Does he like to watch Game of Thrones in his underwear? No idea! All we know is he loves his country and he is allegedly actually a kind person despite all of the evidence to the contrary.
“I traveled the world while working hard in the incredible arena of fashion,” she said at one point.
If Melania’s public utterances were a word cloud, the phrase “my husband” would loom boulder-like on the map.
“I’m so proud of your choice for president of the United States, my husband, Donald J. Trump,” she said, “and I can assure you he’s moved by this great honor.
“When it comes to my husband,” she said, “I will say I’m definitely biased—and for good reason.”
Later, “I can tell you with certainty that my husband has been concerned about our country for as long as I have known him.”
Melania is the third Mrs. Trump, following Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, both of whom were also allegedly models of some import, according to Mr. Trump.
She spoke of the “fierce” GOP primary, and what a triumph it was for Trump to prevail over so many rivals—“17, to be exact.”
She spoke of her love for her adopted country, and how her husband is the only one who can save it.
As is a potential first lady’s central function, she tried her best to humanize him.
“He’s tough when he has to be,” she said, “but he’s also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it’s there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him.”
Her talk of compassion and loving your neighbor was, of course, divorced from the reality of her husband’s campaign which has been an exercise in flouting the conventions of basic politeness and human decency.
“We need new programs to help the poor and opportunities to challenge the young,” she said. Such a future will include, “Christians and Jews and Muslims, it includes Hispanics and African Americans and Asians and the poor and the middle class.
“If I’m honored to serve as first lady,” she said, “I will use that wonderful privilege to try to help people in our country who need it the most. One of the many causes dear to my heart is helping children and women.”
She promised the “values Donald and I will bring to the White House” are “kindness, love, and compassion,” which makes you wonder if they’ve ever talked to each other.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” she said, “Donald J. Trump is ready to serve and lead this country as the next president of the United States. Thank you! God bless you! And God bless America!”