By Christine M. Flowers
Philadelphia Daily News
“Arma virumque cano” is the first full sentence I learned in Latin. It’s the opening line to Virgil’s “Aeneid” and means “I sing of arms and the man.”
Clearly, I’m not Virgil, even after four years of high school Latin and an award from a classical society for my epic rewrite of the “Fall of Pompei.” Epically bad, that is.
So I will narrow my horizons for this column: I speak of feet and the woman.
The feet belong to the woman who is married to the president and they are by all accounts quite lovely, especially when encased in stratospherically high heels. You guessed it, I’m referring to Stilettogate.
In a week when Americans were fighting for their lives in dark water and a city drowned before our very eyes, some people thought it was appropriate to focus attention on FLOTUS’ choice of footwear when boarding a plane that would take her to Houston to survey the damage.
Initially, I thought it was just the usual mad twitterings of the mad twits on Facebook, people (usually women in this kind of thing) who are cyber mean girls. They try to disguise their hostility to President Trump and his wife behind concern for “decency, morality, compassion” but are generally incapable of keeping the masks on their faces for very long. Eventually, the lizards behind the botoxed facades peep through, and we see from their venomous comments how petty they truly are. I suppose the dye in those pink crochet hats was toxic and seeped through to the cerebral cortex.
But these folk can be blocked and deleted. They are the rotten peanuts at the back of the gallery, unimportant and uninformed. The people who disappointed me were the adults who should have known better, journalists and public figures with an obligation to focus their energies on the victims of Hurricane Harvey and not on the First Lady’s fashion sense. This was serious stuff, and anyone who thought that ruminating on Melania Trump’s choice of shoes was appropriate is nothing more than a pathetic rube, right up there with the critics who made fun of Michelle Obama’s upper arm strength.
There is a time and a place for nitpicking about the first family, and most decent people understand that the agonizing days of a natural disaster do not fall anywhere within those parameters. While I didn’t expect the partisan chatter to go silent even while Houstonians were still standing on their roofs begging to be rescued, I did expect that the subject matter of the debates would be political, consequential and relevant. I think we can all agree that the height of Melania’s heels doesn’t satisfy any of those metrics.
The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan attacked FLOTUS for using the Harvey trip as an opportunity to show how different she is from the rest of the unwashed masses. “Trump is the kind of woman who refuses to pretend that her feet will, at any point, ever be immersed in cold, muddy, bacteria-infested Texas water,” Givhan wrote. “She is the kind of woman who may listen empathetically to your pain, but she knows that you know that she is not going to experience it. So why pretend?”
Why pretend, indeed. Givhan and her ilk have Melania’s number. When forced to acknowledge that Mrs. Trump had changed into sneakers on the plane and toured the devastation sans stilettos, the Pulitzer Prize winner sniped, “This was just a costume change for another fashion moment.” Oh yes, they gave this chick the big prize for a reason; she’s not only a writer, she’s a psychic. She knows exactly what Melania was thinking.
Vanity Fair columnist Kenzie Bryant opined that it might not be Melania’s fault: “Have we confirmed whether or not her foot is part stiletto? That someone in the early aughts, exhausted by the whole putting shoes on and taking shoes off rigmarole, she just installed a five-inch steel rod in her heel? Can someone check, please?”
Give that woman a Pulitzer too!
To their credit, some celebrities fought back, including Boy George, who said “I’m officially against Melania hating!” Who knew that the guy who wears more eyeliner than I do would turn out to be the classiest one in the room?
Bottom line: I’m tired of pretending that the attacks on Melania Trump are anything more than the snobbery of enlightened liberal ladies, all of whom must be wearing nice, comfortable shoes.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.