The French president’s wife, Brigitte Macron, was kind of creeped out by her visit to the White House last week. But it wasn’t President Trump’s “primate grooming” of her husband that raised her eyebrows.
No, Macron told a French newspaper she is worried that Melania can’t go outside.
“She’s a lot more constrained than me,” Macron said in “Le Monde” on Friday. “Melania cannot do anything; she cannot even open a window in the White House. She can not put her nose out. Me, every day, I’m out in Paris.”
Macron’s report is accurate. But it’s not Melania-specific oppression; Secret Service protocol forbids the opening of windows. Michelle Obama spoke openly about how she looked forward to escaping the “cage” of the White House — largely so she could open windows again. “I really can’t open a window,” Mrs. Obama told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert in October 2015. “If I press it in the car, everybody’s like, ‘Oh my God! What was that?’ One day, as a treat, my lead agent let me have the window open on the way to Camp David, for like five minutes. He was like: ‘A window’s open! Enjoy it!'”
In the “Le Monde” interview, Madame Macron said she found her White House visit to be rigidly choreographed, even down to where she should stand, which was occasionally marked with tape on the floor. “Everything was very framed,” said Macron. “There were small labels on the ground. I put myself where I had to put myself.”
But she had a Birkin full of compliments for her American counterpart, saying Melania Trump is “actually really fun. We have the same sense of humor. We laugh a lot together.” Macron said she believes Melania’s stoic appearance is somewhat misleading: “Everything is interpreted, over-interpreted. She’s someone who has a strong personality, but works hard to hide it. She laughs very easily, at everything, but shows it less than I do.”
And the two did seem copacetic at their mutual appearances, even dressing alike in white suits on the first day and white gowns for the state dinner. There were no awkward moments between President Trump and Madame Macron, unlike their first meeting last year in Paris, when Trump said she was “very fit.”
Unlike Melania Trump, Macron doesn’t have an official first lady title with a corresponding office and budget; it’s just not done in France. But Macron has said she’s trying to bring an edge to her role as the president’s wife, hoping not to be seen as a just “flower vase” at her husband’s side.