When Melania Trump rolled out her “Be Best” initiative, I was one of the millions who said, “Huh?” Or some version of that. The platform, if you will, of Be Best is for us as adults to be good role models for children, encouraging “positive social, emotional, and physical habits.” Which made most people wonder if she ever reads her husband’s tweets. Or listens to him as he berates journalists, insults women, and encourages people at his rallies to go beat up protesters.
Then I watched the CNN special on the first lady, in which the idea was floated that maybe she knows exactly what she’s doing, and that much of what she does is strategically aimed to get under her husband’s very thin skin. That gave me an idea.
Since it seems as if none of the Democratic candidates have a clear plan on how to deal with Donald Trump, it occurred to me that the answer might be right in front of them. I can understand being flummoxed on how best to deal with Trump. He is, after all, the 500-pound bully on the playground who has spent most of his 73 years on this earth cultivating his cruel streak.
Trying to out-bully him won’t work – just ask Hillary Clinton, or any of the Republican candidates who ran against him in 2016. Rising above his insults and meanness makes much more sense, but I think even Gandhi would have needed a gifted campaign strategist to accomplish that.
So here is a suggestion: How about using his wife’s Be Best initiative to counter every barb, every nasty nickname, every low blow?
For example, when Trump devolves into questioning an opponent’s mental stability, or physical health, when he reaches into his grade school backpack of nasty names and hurls one at a presidential candidate, the response could be: Mr. President, in your wife’s Be Best initiative, the first of the three pillars in that initiative is well-being, which she defines as healthy living, encouragement, kindness, and respect. It’s hard to see how your actions right now are fitting into that. I assume you do support her efforts to encourage all of us to be better examples for the younger generation, as she has stated. Yet it’s hard to reconcile what you’ve just said with her very clear mission.
Or, when it comes to his horrible tweets, which might get anyone else banned from Twitter, this point could be made: Mr. President, the second pillar of your wife’s Be Best initiative is online safety. She says, regarding children, that “it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices – either verbally or online – they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.” Now, do you think that these tweets are in line with the initiative your wife is so committed to?
Let’s imagine, for a moment, the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and whichever Democratic candidate beats out the others. Let’s say it’s Joe Biden. At this first debate, Melania arrives in a white pantsuit again, fueling the usual speculation that she’s either giving a nod to suffragettes or to Hillary Clinton. At some point in the debate, Donald Trump calls Joe Biden “sleepy Joe,” and makes some unattractive, insulting comments about his intelligence, his health, his age.
The camera cuts to Melania Trump. Her Mona Lisa smile is gone, replaced by a steely-eyed glare that seems to be aimed at her husband.
Unfazed, Joe Biden says, “Now, Mr. President, your wife Melania has visited school children for her Be Best initiative. I’ve seen footage of her talking to these kids about never using the word ‘hate,’ and never even thinking the word. I’ve also seen her talking to them about not bullying, that this is not how they should treat other people. Everything you just said to me is frankly pretty hateful, and certainly falls into the category of bullying. Have you read her initiative?”
Cut again to Melania Trump, and her Mona Lisa smile is back.
I haven’t the slightest idea how Donald Trump would react to this strategy, but I think it would be worth a try. I think a certain percentage of voters, women voters in particular, would like it a lot. At the very least, whatever candidate employs it might get an invitation to the White House in December to walk through Melania’s weird indoor forest of blood-red Christmas trees.