We’re on the final day of the Trump administration, and many traditions that would typically have been carried out by now remain untouched. As the Biden and Harris-Emhoff families prepare for a move into the White House, they’ve been left largely to their own devices. While US presidents dating back to Jimmy Carter offered the use of the Blair House, a nearby residence, to the incoming presidential family the night before Inauguration Day, President Donald Trump has failed to do so. And while first ladies dating back to Bess Truman have traditionally invited the incoming first lady for a White House tea and tour, First Lady Melania Trump has opted out of that too — despite the fact that Michelle Obama extended her an invitation back in 2017.
What Melania has done, however, is release a Farewell Address in which she thanks law enforcement officials, says violence is never the answer, and praises her own work fighting the opioid epidemic. It’s a scattered message, more of a cover letter than an address, and, as the first lady’s final attempt to make a connection with the American people, it’s largely been received as falling flat.
A Farewell Message from First Lady Melania Trump pic.twitter.com/WfG1zg2mt4
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 18, 2021
Throughout her time as first lady, Melania has often been quoted comparing herself to former first lady Michelle Obama, which makes it somewhat surprising that she would pass up such an easy opportunity to follow the same tradition her predecessor was praised for upholding. At the time of Obama’s invitation to Melania, husband Donald had just run a hateful, racist campaign against Barack Obama in which Melania was a full participant. But Michelle knew the appearance of unity and peaceful transition was more important than her personal feelings toward the social encounter. Meanwhile, the Trumps’ respect for peaceful transition was seen clearly last week at the Capitol.
“Mrs. Trump should have invited Dr. Biden in for the traditional coffee,” former White House social secretary Capricia Marshall told the New York Times. “Typically, she would come prepared with questions, she’ll meet and talk to the chef, the full time residence staff and have an opportunity for them to break the ice. It’s a courtesy, but logistically it’s incredibly helpful. That didn’t happen.”
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) January 17, 2021
In Trump’s chaotic final weeks as president, it seems that Melania may have withdrawn farther than ever into her bubble, where the media is the enemy and nothing exists unless she wants it to. While she may once have hoped to enjoy the same popularity that Michelle did, she’s now consigned herself to writing her own history. Melania will remember the Trump administration as beloved, even as she makes a final gesture of disdain for the incoming president.