It’s hard to know where to even begin to interpret President Trump’s tweets this morning where he lashed out at MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski, saying her facelift was so botched that she was “bleeding badly.”
But let’s start here: First Lady Melania Trump’s so-called cyber bullying initiative is not going well if she can’t keep her husband from such vulgar attacks.
Traditionally first ladies take up a broader cause and develop programs to bolster it. Cyberbullying — as in putting a stop to people who bully others over the Internet — is Melania Trump’s issue. “Technology has changed our universe,” she said in announcing the initiative, “but like anything that is powerful it can have a bad side.”
Her husband’s morning tweet rant against Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough were that “bad side” defined, deeply personal and crude towards someone’s physical appearance.
Trump could be forgiven for defending himself against the pair’s harsh criticism of his administration. It would have been a fair response, even as some would say it is beneath the presidency.
So where exactly is Melania on her initiative?
In the five months since it was unveiled, her office spokesman said the cyberbullying program is still getting off the ground with only a few hires in her personal office. In fact, Melania Trump’s spokesperson told NBC News just yesterday that the first lady is “continuing to be thoughtful about her platform.”
Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told CNN Thursday morning after the facelift tweets: “As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”
Cyberbullying is a national problem. One study found that over half of young people in the United States have experienced cyberbullying and that 20 percent of them experience it regularly.
When Trump fires off tweets that are crude personal attacks, he’s not just playing politics, he’s contributing to the problem. How do you tell teenagers not to bully each other when the president is doing it?
If Melania Trump is serious about trying to curtail bullying in this country, she doesn’t need a new program, or even a separate office to do it. She needs to start by convincing her husband.
The first lady has previously said that she’s spoken to the president about his tweeting habits. But when the news driving the morning is an attack on the way someone’s face looks, it’s clear her efforts aren’t working.
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp