Melania May Not Live at WH as Role in Trump's 2nd Term Could Look Vastly Different: Analysts


If Donald Trump moves back into the White House for a second time, things could look a lot different — especially in regards to the role of the first lady, if reports are accurate.

According to Axios, Melania Trump — not known to love the Beltway lifestyle or its denizens — might spend her second four years as first lady commuting between Palm Beach, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.

And gossip columnists can definitely not expect to see Melania about town in the nation’s capital like they’re used to with other administrations.

“Love ’em or hate ’em, tracking a first family’s comings and goings around town is an extreme sport in D.C. Extra points if you run into one of the big names yourself while leaving Le Dip or SoulCycle,” Axios reported Monday.

“Unlike the Obamas and Bidens, the Trumps largely avoided jaunts into hometown Washington. Melania was so atypically reclusive for a first lady that a long-running whisper campaign questioned whether she lived at the White House or with her parents in the ‘burbs.”

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Given those proclivities, Axios surveyed what they called a “handful of Melania-ologists” to see what they thought a second stint of first lady-dom would look like for the Slovenian-born wife of the presumptive GOP nominee. (It’s unclear whether these “Melania-ologists” were as credentialed in the field as the “Kremlinologists” of the 1960s and 1970s, but we’ll take their word for it.)

Instead of spending her time in the East Wing of the White House, Axios’ sources said, she would instead be “jetting between Palm Beach (where she’s spent the past four years) and New York (where tongues are wagging about Baron maybe attending NYU), coming to the White House only for ceremonial undertakings like state dinners or special events.”

“Melania does what Melania wants,” said Washington Post associate editor Mary Jordan, whose book on the former first lady qualifies her as a Melania-ologist. (That may be my favorite neologism of the 2024 campaign thus far, I must admit.)

Melania’s take on the position, Jordan argues, makes her “stand out in history from any other first lady,” since “[h]er view is unelected, not paid.”

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Another Melania-ologist, Kate Andersen Brower — whose Melania-related credentials include authoring several books on the White House, including one on first ladies published three days before Trump took office — added that Melania was removing herself even further from the Beltway orbit.

“She’s distancing herself even more from her husband and from the Washington social political scene,” Brower said. “I mean, she clearly hated being in Washington.”

Now, how much stock you put in Melania-ology is pretty much up to you. Much was made of the fact that she wasn’t in or around the courtroom during the Manhattan campaign finance trial, although nobody seemed to come up with a particularly salient reason as to why; you could just as easily say that she was distancing herself from a “porn star hush money” case as you could say that she wasn’t going to dignify the kangaroo court with the importance of her presence. Or you could just say she was a busy mom with a college-age kid.

Furthermore, Axios’ Melania-ologists seemed to read quite a bit into everything, including her fashion choices: “While Melania gravitated toward flowy and feminine silhouettes at the outset of her husband’s administration, by the end she was opting for clothes with sharp shoulders and rigid buttons — ‘almost like an armor,’ says Kate Bennett, a former CNN White House correspondent who wrote a book about the former first lady.”

I’m not sure if Bennett laughed when she said it or whether Axios’ Mimi Montgomery chuckled when she transcribed it for the piece, but if they didn’t, a much-deserved chuckle at the fatuousness of some aspects of Melania-ology was missed by all.

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However, on a substantive note, Jordan said that this time around, she’d surround herself with a “better” and “more qualified” staff than she had during the first Trump presidency, during which she kept the number of people around her small.

“Now having seen how this works, she would just be wiser and she would be more vocal and more demanding about what the first lady’s office should get,” Jordan said.

At least that much we can probably avouch for. As for the rest of Melania-ology, treat it as you will. I’d personally like to see it happen; for once, perhaps we can have a first lady that doesn’t treat the District of Columbia and its denizens as if it were the entire country and, like Michelle Obama and Doctor Jill Biden, assume that their job should be mounting a charm offensive for government apparatchiks and press functionaries.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture