SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts
CLOSINGS: View Closings

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 6:24 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 6:24 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 28°
Mason City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 24°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 25°
Austin
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 26°
Charles City
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 24°
Winter storm impacting the region
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events