In scandal’s wake, Melania keeps her distance from Donald. Do we care?

In scandal’s wake, Melania keeps her distance from Donald. Do we care?


Melania Trump is not in Davos today. She was planning to go — her office had already announced that she would be there to “support the president” as he hobnobs with the global elites at the World Economic Forum. But the first lady is staying in Washington for what her office opaquely calls “scheduling and logistical reasons.” What happened?

Well, one thing that happened was the disclosure that Donald Trump’s lawyer arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star, reportedly to keep quiet about her decade-ago affair with Trump.

In the swirl of news over the last week, Melania’s defection — which was announced on the couple’s 13th wedding anniversary — didn’t get much public attention. (Yahoo News White House correspondent Hunter Walker asked the White House how the Trumps celebrated, but got no answer.) To the many rules that Mrs. Trump’s husband has rewritten in the past two years, add one more — that the public will always care how a politician’s wife reacts to news of his infidelities.

Until Trump changed everything, the public was insatiably interested in what the wronged spouse thinks. When Bill Clinton was accused of Oval Office dalliances, for instance, Hillary Clinton at first became his fiercest defender, blaming the charges on a “vast right wing conspiracy.” She also became the subject of endless speculation about whether she would stay in the marriage or leave. The photo of the couple walking forlornly toward the presidential helicopter, with Chelsea between them holding each of their hands, ran with countless stories about the tense state of their marriage.

When John Edwards was found to have fathered a child out of wedlock, attention also focused on his wife. Some publications were reluctant to cover the story at first, in part out of respect for Elizabeth Edwards, who was fighting cancer at the time. At first Elizabeth defended her husband, but then she announced she was separating from him.  READ MORE