Melania Trump, the most reticent first lady since Pat Nixon, has done an admirable thing. She has lent her voice to those who oppose the Trump administration’s heinous policy of separating migrant children from their parents.
The statement issued through her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, cautious as it is, bears careful reading:
“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
The initial reaction from many of her husband’s critics, no surprise, is that this is far too little. Social media is awash with the word “complicit.”
But the last sentence in particular is a stark — and, yes, I’ll say it, brave — rejection of her husband’s repeated efforts to shift the blame for this to anyone else. While he continues to lie by saying that Democrats are at fault, Melania Trump’s Father’s Day statement emphasizes the fact that laws are always applied with discretion and that we can be both a law-abiding country and one that “governs with heart.”
Compare that to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with his twisted assertion that the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy is somehow biblically mandated. (Sessions, a Methodist, has since been schooled by his own church leadership, whose general secretary wrote: “To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.”)
Or hold Melania Trump’s statement against the candid acknowledgment to the New York Times by Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller that the approach was “a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period.”
Then there is her assertion that any solution on immigration should be bipartisan, which stands in contrast with the current strategy in the House, which is to forge legislation that can pass on Republican votes alone.
The first lady’s decision to step into the debate makes the silence of another Trump family member all the more telling. Where is Ivanka Trump, who is actually an official adviser to her father — and the one who claims that family issues are her portfolio?
All those photos of crying children don’t look so great on Instagram. Still, Ivanka, there is time to step up. You can do it. Be best.