CNN poll: Melania's favorability plummets

Melania Trump's favorable rating has fallen by double-digits, according to a new CNN poll. The first lady, whose favorability stood at 54% in October, has slipped to 43% in just two months.

Posted: Dec 14, 2018 9:04 AM
Updated: Dec 14, 2018 9:38 AM

In a rare interview Wednesday night Melania Trump proved that she doesn't understand what it means to be first lady.

She told Fox News's Sean Hannity that "opportunists who are using my name" are the hardest part of being first lady, again making the job about herself and her family instead of taking the opportunity to talk about the challenges she sees other people facing.

She reserved her harshest words for the media, her husband's favorite punching bag. The biggest challenge she faces as first lady, she said, is from "comedians to journalists to performers, book writers."

Really? Is her family's legacy the thing that worries her most? After all the pain she has witnessed as first lady, from meeting with a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting to visiting with children separated from their parents at the border, has the media really been the most difficult part of her job?

If so, that is a big problem.

When Hannity asked if the criticism "hurt" her, she said, "It doesn't hurt. The problem is they're writing history and it's not correct."

The entire moment was a lost opportunity to put attention on the families of struggling Americans she's met in her role as first lady, especially since she spent time the very next day reading to children at Children's National Hospital, some sitting in wheelchairs with IVs attached. And the Hannity interview took place on USS George H.W. Bush, a trip the first lady made to support members of the military and their families.

Wouldn't it have been heartening to hear her use that moment during the interview to talk about the women and babies she's met struggling with opioid addiction, or the children who she has met as part of her "Be Best" campaign who have been bullied at school, or the people whose homes were destroyed in the California fires?

Unfortunately, there are no shortages of tragedies and shortcomings to cite. Anything but another pity party would have been nice -- and could have been expected from any other first lady in recent memory, all of whom, regardless of party, understood the incredible opportunities that accompany the sometimes-frustrating position.

We are getting to know Melania Trump more and more the longer her husband is in office, and it seems that many people are not liking what they see. According to a CNN poll out Thursday, Melania's favorable rating has fallen off a cliff. She now stands at 43% favorability, down 11 points from 54% in CNN's last polling just two months ago. Her unfavorable rating is also up six points to 36%.

The last time her public favorability rating was this low was in January 2017, before her husband's inauguration and before we knew her at all. The illusion that she was in some way a mollifying voice in this White House has been largely dispelled.

In the past couple of months, with the ABC interview in which she asserted that she is "the most bullied person" in the world and during her October trip to Egypt when she spoke about the #MeToo movement and said that although she stands with women, they need to present "really hard evidence," there is less and less separation between the first lady and the president (and that is what's causing her polling numbers to drop precipitously).

Recall that Melania said her decision to wear that now-infamous jacket while visiting migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border with the message "I really don't care. Do u?" was actually a message to the press, whom she detests. It was small, it was petty and it was not worthy of a first lady of the United States.

Being first lady is no easy task, admittedly. No modern first lady would deny the challenges and isolation that accompany the undefined role: There is no pay, no mention of it in the Constitution and endless scrutiny. At a 2013 summit in Africa Laura Bush and Michelle Obama talked about those challenges. "There are prisonlike elements, but it's a really nice prison," Obama said of the White House. "You can't complain."

All modern first ladies can relate to being frustrated with the press over their preoccupation with superficial things, including the way they cut their hair or what they choose to wear, but Melania has clouded the profound responsibility and honor of the position with her own personal resentment.

"People are sorting through our shoes and our hair ... whether we cut it or not," Michelle Obama said at the 2013 summit. "We take our bangs [she had just had bangs cut] and we stand in front of important things the world needs to see. And eventually, people stop looking at the bangs, and start looking at the things we're standing in front of. That's the power of our role."

That power is real and should be recognized and used to help those less fortunate, as has been done by previous first ladies.

Decades earlier, when a residence staffer's child was born with a disability, Mamie Eisenhower asked the mother and child to move into the White House. In a June 18, 1990, letter from first lady Barbara Bush to former first lady Betty Ford, Bush alludes to the two of them working together to help a young girl be reunited with her family.

When Lady Bird Johnson found out that a butler's wife was battling cancer, she called two of the top oncologists in New York and that same day they landed at Washington's National Airport to examine her. Before a trip to Korea, Nancy Reagan was told about two Korean children who badly needed heart surgery. Reagan started working the phones, and by the time the Reagans were flying back home on Air Force One, they had asked some staff to fly commercial so that the children could fly back with them and have surgery in the US. The son of one White House butler said it best: "The first lady can pick up the telephone and change your life."

I hope Melania realizes soon that her own personal challenges are nothing compared to the incredible opportunity she has to make a difference and "be best."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
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White275143
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Jefferson266238
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Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
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Parke13088
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Newton92021
Brown88335
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Union6297
Ohio4977
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
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