Melania Trump, whose appearances often generate public interest, strode into the Capitol Tuesday night with the public eager to read into whatever signals the President might exchange with his wife during the State of the Union speech.
They were probably disappointed.
With the exception of her unorthodox decision to abandon her husband’s vehicle for the ride from the White House to the Capitol building – and instead travel there in her own motorcade with her guests, arriving almost one hour before him – Melania Trump’s interaction with the President was, essentially, State of the Union status quo.
There was no lengthy back-and-forth between Trump and the first lady, no adoring gaze that lingered, no great gesture of introduction – outside of the very opening line of his speech, in which Melania Trump’s title was wedged between that of the vice president, members of Congress and her fellow Americans. There wasn’t even any of Trump’s signature effusive praise, the heap of compliments he can be so generous with when he wants to single out a particularly “terrific” person.
In October of last year, Trump was happy to tout his wife’s popularity, telling a roomful of guests at a formal White House Historical Association dinner that Melania Trump was “the star of the Trump family,” adding “they love her out there, they’re loving Melania.” (That was an upgrade from July, when he told an Iowa crowd, “they’re liking her, they’re liking her.”)