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In the Rose Garden, Melania Trump tried her best

In the Rose Garden, Melania Trump tried her best. But a weed’s a weed.

Her well-delivered remarks can’t change President Trump’s divisive words and actions over the past four years.

By Joan Vennochi 

Globe Columnist, August 26, 2020

First lady Melania Trump departs Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland June 21, 2018, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "I really don't care, Do U?" following her surprise visit with child migrants on the US-Mexico border.
First lady Melania Trump departs Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland June 21, 2018, wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “I really don’t care, Do U?” following her surprise visit with child migrants on the US-Mexico border.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

After redesigning the White House Rose Garden, Melania Trump tried redesigning her husband.

But a weed is a weed, no matter how much you water it.

In a Rose Garden speech on night two of the Republican National Convention, Melania Trump recognized the roots of racial strife in this country and tried to strike a chord of national unity. But even his wife’s well-delivered remarks can’t change President Trump’s divisive words and actions over the past four years.RELATED: Renée Graham: Birtherism is back. Gee, I wonder why

At least Melania Trump acknowledged the terrible impact of the coronavirus on the country. Then she went on to say, “Donald will not rest until he has done all he can to take care of everyone impacted by this terrible pandemic.” Given the president’s recent response to the COVID-19 death toll — “It is what it is” — uttered when the count was 155,000 and now stands at nearly 179,000 confirmed US deaths, who can really believe her? The record shows that Trump responded slowly to the crisis, and that cost lives. He tried to prevent more testing, because that would reveal more cases, and assigned blame in a racist way, by calling the novel coronavirus the Chinese virus. He worried more about the country’s economic health — and his own political health — than the health of Americans.Get Today in Opinion in your inboxGlobe Opinion’s must-reads, delivered to you every Sunday-Friday.Sign Up

First lady Melania Trump speaks to the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday.
First lady Melania Trump speaks to the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday.EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The first lady, who famously wore a jacket that read “I really don’t care. Do U?” on a visit to a child detention center, also talked about how “deeply moved” she and her husband have been when they visit the sites of natural disasters. “The common thread in all of these challenging situations is the unwavering resolve to help one another,” she said. Yet Miles Taylor, a former Trump administration official, now charges that Trump wanted to withhold help from California during an outbreak of wildfires because voters in that blue state didn’t support him.

Melania Trump was right when she said her husband is not a traditional politician who “doesn’t just speak words. He demands action and he gets results.” For sure, Trump doesn’t just speak; he incessantly tweets. Unfortunately, the actions he demands — like building a wall — divide the country rather than unite it.

Did the wife of the crude and uncivil Trump really urge Americans “to come together in a civil manner, so we can work and live up to our standard American ideals”? Yes, she did. She also told Americans, “Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president” — defining honesty as Trump telling people what he thinks, like it or not. But what about the truthfulness of what that president says? According to a running Washington Post fact-checker on Trump, as of July, he has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims.

Melania Trump’s call for a reboot on matters of race attracted major attention and, in its own way, was the most dishonest part of her speech. “Like you, I have reflected on the racial unrest in our country,” she said. “It is a harsh reality that we are not proud of parts of history.” She also urged Americans to “stop the violence and looting being done in the name of justice.”

Meanwhile, Donald and Melania Trump’s history includes contributing to the birther conspiracy about former president Barack Obama by spreading the falsehood that he was born in Kenya. Trump tried the same trick against Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who, like Obama, also is Black.

As president, Trump has fanned anti-Muslim sentiment and embraced an immigration policy that separates children from their parents at the Mexican border. Meanwhile, at this week’s convention, Mark and Patricia McCloskey — the St. Louis couple who were each charged with a felony for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matters protesters — stoked fears of an invasion of crime, lawlessness, and low-income housing into suburbia.

Yet Trump, being his usual dishonest self, is also trying to dispel the notion that he’s racist. This week, he pardoned a Black man convicted of bank robbery and swore in five new American citizens who were all people of color. The convention has also featured several Black speakers, including former NFL player Herschel Walker, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Attorney General Daniel Cameron of Kentucky.

In the Rose Garden, Melania Trump also tried to change the image of Trump as heartless and uncaring.

Like turning ugly crabgrass into lush Kentucky blue, it can’t be done.


Joan Vennochi

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