The first lady doesn’t speak publicly very often. And when she does make public appearances, the moment is carefully crafted. Unlike her husband, Melania Trump doesn’t stray from the script.
So at a town hall event Tuesday in Las Vegas on the nation’s raging opioid crisis, she and her aides must have known that this one line would get attention.
“I challenge the press to devote as much time to the lives lost — and the potential lives that could be saved — by dedicating the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories,” Melania Trump said.
It was a not-so-subtle dig at her husband’s favorite punching bag.
The first lady is right that there is a public health emergency regarding overdose deaths that deserves more attention from everyone.
Each year, drug overdoses kill more people than gun violence or car crashes in the United States. More people die of drug overdoses than died during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid addiction and deaths are one reason life expectancy has dropped in the United States for the past three years.
And yet, there’s been little sense of urgency.
Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in 2017 and then put Kellyanne Conway in charge of the effort. In October, he signed into law legislation to curb the crisis, but it was widely panned by public health advocates for not making a significant, long-term financial investment.
After the bill passed, Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition told The Post, “When you drill down into it, it’s not that there aren’t good ideas, but it doesn’t reach the level of, this is what our nation needs right now.”
Meanwhile, the president has spent most of his time linking the opioid crisis to building a wall along the U. S-Mexico border, even though researchers say most drugs are smuggled through ports of entry, not illegal crossings.
Indeed, the country should be focused on the opioid crisis.
One could also easily say: “I challenge the president to devote as much time to the lives lost ... by dedicating the same amount of tweets that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories.”