In an unusual Rose Garden address Monday, Melania Trump said that "too often social media is used in negative ways" and that she plans to dedicate the rest of her time as first lady to bringing attention to the problems children face in "today's fast-paced and ever-connected world."
She is calling her campaign 'Be Best.' In addition to raising awareness to the dangers of online bullying and encouraging "positive online behaviors," she will highlight programmes that foster the well-being of children, including their social and emotional health, and help them overcome addictions.
In case this was too subtle for the cyberbully in chief, she explained, "It is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind [children] that when they are using their voices - whether verbally or online - they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion." C'mon, she must know we all know her husband is a terrible role model for children in part because of his Twitter abuse directed at hundreds of people and institutions. (He's also a bad role model, of course, because he's lied more than 3 000 times, cheated on his wives, made racist and misogynistic comments and bragged about sexually assaulting women, but I digress.)
Her website explains: "The mission of BE BEST is to focus on some of the major issues facing children today, with the goal of encouraging children to BE BEST in their individual paths, while also teaching them the importance of social, emotional, and physical health. BE BEST will concentrate on three main pillars: well-being, social media use, and opioid abuse."
I cannot wait to hear her recommendations. She might advise:
- Don't tweet at strange hours early in the morning or late at night.
- Have someone else read your tweets if you are unsure if they are appropriate.
- Always proofread your tweets.
- Never use social media to insult people.
- Never use hate speech on social media.
The "well-being" part of her initiative also seems to fit a certain president's behaviour. "By promoting values such as healthy living, encouragement, kindness, and respect, parents, teachers, and other adults can help prepare children for their futures," the web site explains. "With those values as a solid foundation, children will be able to better deal with the evils of the opioid crisis and avoid negative social media interaction." Here, she might offer these kinds of guidelines:
- Never incite violence.
- Never mock people with disabilities.
- Never watch more than an hour of TV - it will rot your brain.
- Never diminish others to make yourself look bigger.
- Praise others and avoid bragging
- Always tell the truth.
I could go on, but you get the point. I don't doubt her sincerity on any of these issues. In fact, she's precisely right that adult behaviour may be the biggest factor in developing children's good habits and solid character. And that is why our awful political culture is so troubling for many parents. How can they ask their kids to be better than the most famous and powerful people in our country? Well, at least now they can point to Melania Trump.
Sure, we'd like to think she's also needling her husband, and it is hard to think she doesn't have him in mind, just a little. That she should step forward just as her husband's alleged infidelities are taking up most of the political oxygen is just icing on the cake.
Whatever is going on between the two Trumps, we should all applaud her decision to use her position for positive causes, as all modern first ladies have done. Given that she is far more popular than her husband, maybe she'll have a bigger influence on public morals than he. We should pray she does.