Sunday, May 21, 2017

You want to understand Trump? Just check out the Trump - Melania relationship, it says a lot about the man.

Melania Trump is the first absentee First Lady in the history of our republic, not unsurprisingly since the Trump administration is nothing but a series of firsts, the first time a president with no military or political experience was elected, the first time a daughter and son in law have figured prominently as White House advisers, and we could go on and on. Melania had a birthday recently, her 47th.  It's worth noting that by Donald Trump's self-avowed clock his wife is 12 years past "check out time,” which is 35. So what keeps the Melania-Donald tryst going? Vanity Fair has a series of first-rate articles on the topic, illuminating the interiors  of the First Couple’s marriage.
Once upon a time, it was a story that made perfect sense: a Slavic How To Marry a Billionaire. Melanija Knavs, the determined daughter of a former Communist Party member, grew up in Slovenia, where she and her older sister, Ines, learned from their parents’ ambition for upward mobility. Having creative aspirations, she studied design at the University of Ljubljana. But after she won runner-up in a beauty contest, she dropped out, hoping to put Slovenia behind her and become a model.
Her quest took her to Paris and Milan, where, in 1995, she had the good luck of meeting Paolo Zampolli—a co-owner of Metropolitan Models, a pal of Donald’s, and a gregarious playboy—who was on a scouting trip in Europe. “I told Melania, ‘If you would like to come to try the United States, we’d like to represent you,’ ” recalls the fast-talking Zampolli in his Gramercy Park town house. “I say very simple, ‘Please come.’ ” Melania was in.
Move forward a few years to 1998 and find Melania training for modelling spreads by always wearing ankle weights, drinking lots of water and eating seven servings of vegetables per day.  Prior to Donald Trump Melania only got second and third tier modelling assignments. Photographer Matthew Atanian was then shooting for Marie Claire. He recalls Melania asking him to help her get in the magazine. He sensed it was hopeless. “She was always kind of a stiff person. That’s why she wasn’t a successful model, because she couldn’t move.” After a shoot or no shoot, Melania went out to dinner with men, usually men who were considerably older than herself and that's how she met Donald Trump. Their initial encounter was as tacky as one might imagine.  They were at a party at the Kit Kat Club and when Trump's date went to the ladies' room, Trump approached Melania for her phone number. Legend has it that she took his phone number instead, and legend touts the incident as some kind of a victory on her part. In any event, the year was 1998 and Trump and Melania began their romance. Vanity Fair again:
“All these European models, they’re tough as hell. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been watching the Americans forever,” says photographer Harry Benson, who has shot numerous First Couples, and Melania at least twice.
For a few years, the relationship worked perfectly. Propping up Donald’s sexual prowess called for some public self-degradation, but Melania, as his girlfriend, was willing to do it. In 1999, shortly after they began dating, she participated in an on-air phone call with Trump and Howard Stern, as they discussed her chest, and whether she stole money from Donald’s wallet. When Stern asked to talk to “that broad in your bed,”Trump put her on the line, and she spoke about how they had sex more than daily, and revealed that she was nearly nude.
Stern replied, “I have my pants off already.” Thanks to her relationship with Trump, she finally got her glossy-magazine spread—nearly naked in British GQ,handcuffed to a briefcase on a private jet, which Trump supplied. Managing the career moves of his companions was part of a pattern. While he was still married to Ivana, Trump pushed his girlfriend Marla Maples to pose nude in Playboy and reportedly negotiated the fee himself. (The deal fell through.)
Are you totally disgusted yet?  Don't be. After much soul searching I have decided that I have a split mind on this topic. One part of me projects myself into the situation and as the imaginary Melania doing these things my conclusion is, "She worked hard for the money -- so we better treat her right."  Then another part of my brain activates and I say, "She put all of her eggs in one basket. She decided to exploit her looks because that was the easier, softer way. She doesn't have enough grit to learn a regular trade or profession and work hard for a living like the rest of us in our cell-block-like apartments and our tiny smushed cars. Off with her head!" I can say unequivocally that I know women from both schools of thought.
The price tag for the lifestyle that Melania signed onto is a heavy one and therein lies the rub. One is asked and expected to do things to satisfy male whimsy that a "normal" (read "working a regular job") woman doesn't have to stand for. That's the good news. The bad, is that of course normal women don't have golden fortresses on Fifth Avenue, either, so the concept of femininity/morality gets quite a workout if you even start to think about the matter dispassionately.
And here is a truth that Melania knows about her own choices: she does have a check out time. All women who live strictly by their looks and profit by same have a check out time. More about the marriage from Vanity Fair:
After almost seven years of dating Melania, Donald finally married her in 2005, with a lavish reception at Mar-a-Lago, studded with A-list folk from the entertainment and news businesses—many of whom Donald now despises. As a wife, Melania became a dutiful spokeswoman for his self-proclaimed success. Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, recalls the exchanges he witnessed between her and Donald at Trump Tower. “He begged her to praise him [to me] as a husband . . . . Literally, he said, ‘Tell him I’m a really good husband.’ She looked at him, and he repeated himself. And she said,‘Yeah, he’s a really good husband.’ It was being dragged out of her,”says D’Antonio. Then she repeated a story D’Antonio had already heard from Trump: Tom Cruise once called Donald to see if he could use theWollman skating rink in Central Park (which Trump had renovated with much fanfare in 1986) during off-hours. Donald was very flattered thatthe actor had called him personally—but Melania pointed out, “Oh,but, Donald, you’re more famous than he is.” Trump seemed to feel that this story was “an example of their affection,” recalls D’Antonio.“Praising his fame, hyping his fame, was a wifely duty. The people in Trump’s orbit have all memorized the same stories. And they repeat them word for word.”
As Donald’s celebrity ballooned with The Apprentice, Melania was asked to tolerate even more. His public interchanges with Howard Stern, which provided a kind of Greek chorus to their relationship, went from lewdly objectifying to grotesque. He agreed with Stern that his daughter Ivanka was “a piece of ass.” He joked that if Melania were in a horrible,mangling car crash he’d still love her as long as the breasts remained intact. When asked by Stern whether he’d be up for “banging24-year-olds,” Trump eagerly assented. Subsequent accusations suggest similar improprieties.
Donald Trump is friendless.  Of all the indictments and analyses by journalists and the psychiatric community that have been done on the man that is the saddest fact about Donald Trump, in my view.  Holidays are not spent with close family and dear friends. Holidays are a command performance for close family and there are no friends. Celebrities fill that role, in Trump’s make-believe, spun-confectionary world where everyone is pretty, famous, and rich and that’s all it takes. Coming out of this environment, it is highly unlikely at this point that Melania intends to, or is capable of filling the role of First Lady, in any way that we would recognize. Vanity Fair:
Melania has approached the job of First Lady hesitantly. According to a source close to the transition, the East Wing, where First Ladies have their offices, was practically a ghost town. “A First Lady comes in with seasoned partnerships,” said this source. “You come in with a staff, your people. They have no people. Look who was at Thanksgiving: [Boxing promoter] Don King and [romance novel cover boy] Fabio.”
And yet, woefully pliant as Melania may be, even she may have a breaking point. Over the course of reporting this story, for which her close friends declined to talk, an uneasy picture has emerged of their marital union. Melania’s unhappiness and the couple’s apparent lack of closeness are becoming more noticeable. Despite assurances from her spokesperson,Stephanie Grisham, that Melania is embracing the role of First Lady,most signs point to a distinct lack of interest. And while Grisham says Mrs. Trump plans to move to the White House once their son, Barron,“finishes out the school year,” there have been indications that she is in no particular rush.
So that's life in the big city with Donald Trump. The role of First Lady is undeniably one of the greatest honors that a non-elected person in our nation could have — but Melania is clearly not interested. Ostensibly Melania objected to Donald running for president -- perhaps because she feared that he would win and upset her private apple cart. There’s evidence to that fact:
Tens of millions of Americans watched the election returns with disbelief. It’s likely that Melania, who watched with the family and allies at Trump Tower, was among them. Stylist Phillip Bloch, an acquaintance of Melania’s, who worked with Donald on his pageants, says,“I’ll tell you, that pantsuit didn’t look like she was going to a victory rally. That outfit was like, ‘I’m getting on the plane going to Palm Beach. This is over now. Thank God.’ ”
Melania has a full fledged Faustian bargain in her relationship with Donald Trump. She unquestionably defends her position exactly as women trapped in a bad marriage usually do, which is to say, and I quote, "I've got a house and three kids that turned out okay." That was from a woman that I did business with once, justifying her participation in a horrific marriage of 40 some years. All Melania needs to do is take the sentence and insert "penthouse" and "one" and she'll be there.
The legal savvy that Melania possesses, exemplified by her successful suits against The Daily Mail for saying that she used to work for an escort service [$5 Mill judgment] and her ex-business partner in a beauty-creme-laced-with-caviar endeavor [she won $50 million] indicate that she'll do okay down the road in any settlement that she and Trump might arrive at -- and that's assuming that they would decide to go separate ways. I'm assuming that Melania is in the marriage for the duration. And I'm further assuming that as much as the average American non-Trump-voter on the street might wish and pray for Donald Trump's demise or disappearance from the political scene, there is one who wishes for it more -- and that one is Melania Knavs Trump.  

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