Barack Obama makes Melania Trump smile

Twitter erupts after former President Barack Obama makes Melania Trump smile. CNN's Jeanne Moos says it is not what it's cracked up to be.

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 7:22 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 7:24 PM

Melania Trump has been at the center of planning the administration's first state dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and French first lady Brigitte Macron. These dinners are always more than they seem. They are not just about schmoozing -- they are often about serious matters of policy and in this case, that means the focus will be the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump described Tuesday as "ridiculous" and "insane" and which President Macron is still looking to salvage.

But it is Melania Trump who has been seizing the "optics" as the dinner approaches. There was her pose for the now-viral photo of herself with the Clintons, Obamas and Bushes at Barbara Bush's funeral service over the weekend, in which she seemed entirely at ease.

Earlier, her smile and warm exchange with President Obama at the funeral set Twitter on fire, and two days later the first lady was sending "healing thoughts of strength" to former President George H.W. Bush, who was hospitalized Monday -- even as her husband was tweeting about building the wall on the US-Mexico border and railing against "obstructionists" in Congress.

There was the statement-making white hat at the state arrival ceremony Tuesday, the pastoral photo of her with the Macrons as her husband planted an oak tree, a gift from their visitors. And the pictures posted on social media of her careful preparation for her turn as hostess to heads of state.

Melania Trump comes to this fateful moment in her husband's administration with a relatively low bar of expectations to clear. In her first year as first lady, many have observed her as remote, disengaged or powerless -- given her attempt to address bullying while married to someone whose milieu is made from online bluster and intimidation. Even so, in the eyes of many spectators, Melania Trump has come into her own as first lady as the Macrons' state visit has unfolded. All eyes are upon her.

Against this backdrop, the Trumps and Macrons and the powerful of DC will all sit down to dinner for a three-course meal that features rack of lamb and jambalaya. The first lady and her social secretary plan the details of these dinners, which can be nerve-wracking affairs. If there is a true proving ground for first ladies, Melania Trump may be on it.

Both first ladies and their staffs have spoken about the anxiety a state dinner can produce. "If you are invited to a state dinner, you are only supposed to reject that honor for four reasons: a death in the family, a serious illness, a wedding, or an unavoidable absence from Washington," said Bill Clinton's chief of protocol Mary Mel French.

Laura Bush recalled, "I was not nervous before my own wedding -- there were no jitters or cold palms then -- but I was anxious now." The Obamas' social secretary, Jeremy Bernard, told a group of embassy staff, "You know the feeling -- the fear of displaying a flag upside down, playing the wrong national anthem... the weather, especially here in D.C."

But Melania Trump hasn't seemed the least unnerved by the process. She's turning heads with her stylish, cool comportment, and has been overseeing preparations -- reportedly without relying on a planner -- with a menu that uses ingredients from Michelle Obama's kitchen garden and gold-themed table settings that use pieces from George W. Bush's and Bill Clinton's China service. She seems to have delighted in the process. Perhaps it's been a welcome distraction from more salacious or foreboding news. This may be the first lady finding her footing or it might just be a welcome refuge from the daily headlines.

The East Wing of the White House comes under the first lady's purview and always operates differently from the president's West Wing. They are not physically far apart, but when it comes to how power works, they might as well be on opposite sides of town. In the Trump White House, the distinction between them is more stark than ever.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Michelle Obama famously said, "When they go low, we go high." It seems Melania Trump is trying to epitomize that in the White House, even though it's a difficult credo to live by. Tuesday night she will try and bring some of the glamor and tradition of the past back. It will be a welcome sight.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 954230

Reported Deaths: 15474
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1298902003
Lake638781106
Allen54326765
Hamilton44326448
St. Joseph42368592
Elkhart33998491
Vanderburgh30740451
Tippecanoe27012251
Johnson23862420
Hendricks22576343
Porter21943348
Clark17657231
Madison17628387
Vigo16465285
Monroe14637193
LaPorte14493241
Delaware14291225
Howard14058274
Kosciusko11562137
Hancock11022168
Warrick10793179
Bartholomew10730171
Floyd10584209
Wayne10169230
Grant9271206
Morgan9000160
Boone8507112
Dubois7823124
Dearborn776391
Henry7749134
Noble7510101
Marshall7452129
Cass7244118
Lawrence7080154
Shelby6701111
Jackson666386
Gibson6233107
Harrison613287
Huntington608397
Montgomery5903106
DeKalb587591
Knox5589105
Miami554889
Putnam547668
Clinton540566
Whitley534054
Steuben506570
Wabash492792
Jasper487763
Jefferson478992
Ripley463477
Adams448868
Daviess4267109
Scott413065
Clay398358
Greene396892
White396158
Wells393285
Decatur391297
Fayette383380
Posey364341
Jennings358857
Washington336847
LaGrange327375
Spencer323037
Randolph320290
Fountain320156
Sullivan311349
Owen289764
Starke287565
Fulton282356
Orange279259
Jay260038
Perry256353
Carroll247129
Franklin244938
Rush238930
Vermillion237751
Parke222421
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Pike214041
Blackford172934
Pulaski170351
Crawford148519
Newton147046
Benton144716
Brown136646
Martin130618
Switzerland127810
Warren116116
Union99511
Ohio80911
Unassigned0494

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1393696

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1544531574
Cuyahoga1364632341
Hamilton991581326
Montgomery682681161
Summit571661051
Lucas51927869
Butler48223663
Stark42502983
Lorain32263539
Warren30544338
Mahoning27651643
Clermont26123297
Lake24920422
Delaware22656147
Licking20886246
Fairfield20833223
Greene20708275
Trumbull20465516
Medina20236290
Clark18277332
Richland16793236
Portage16501231
Wood16002209
Allen14459261
Miami14091261
Muskingum13019155
Wayne12306244
Columbiana12094242
Tuscarawas11297271
Marion10960150
Pickaway10675129
Scioto10618127
Erie9905171
Ross9685177
Lawrence9005125
Hancock8667143
Ashtabula8533187
Belmont8301188
Geauga8294156
Jefferson7785175
Huron7598131
Union745351
Washington7451126
Athens712965
Sandusky7003135
Darke6906137
Knox6876122
Seneca6551137
Ashland6095115
Auglaize598788
Shelby5867104
Brown579072
Mercer566790
Crawford5603117
Defiance5587101
Madison552571
Highland551782
Fulton544583
Clinton537681
Logan521987
Preble5131111
Putnam4915107
Guernsey489464
Williams471582
Perry466254
Champaign456664
Ottawa444684
Jackson438763
Pike402645
Morrow400551
Coshocton398069
Fayette385253
Adams373675
Hardin369470
Gallia357858
Henry332969
Holmes3328111
Van Wert323271
Hocking312570
Wyandot286858
Carroll268252
Paulding248843
Meigs225542
Monroe193449
Noble174942
Morgan171229
Harrison161941
Vinton143119
Unassigned05
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A weak cold front brings slightly cooler air to the region Tuesday.
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