Melania Trump’s ‘eviscerated’ Rose Garden is the perfect metaphor

‘Decades of American history made to disappear’

Jennifer Stavros
California
Monday 09 August 2021 20:06
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<p>Melania Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last month</p>

Melania Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last month

The project most dear to Melania Trump’s heart during her time in the White House was the renovation of Pennsylvania Avenue’s famous Rose Garden. Originally designed by the late, great Jacqueline Kennedy, the garden and Melania’s obsession with it was seen as emblematic of her attempt to turn herself into a historical First Lady. It was said by many during her husband’s presidency that Melania sought to leave a reimagined Rose Garden as her legacy.

Little surprise, then, that harsh criticism of what she did with that garden has caused a stir. Today, White House historian Michael Beschloss tweeted about Melania’s efforts in an extremely unflattering manner. Beschloss, who, like many, who watched in horror as the Rose Garden was decimated last year, wrote: “Evisceration of White House Rose Garden was completed a year ago this month, and here was the grim result — decades of American history made to disappear.” Accompanying his tweet was an image of a barren lawn, where few — if any — roses could be seen, no walkways and seemingly none of the formerly famous trees. Devoid of color and character, the Rose Garden appeared to have become a flat suburban square of grass.

Melania was quick to respond to the historian’s criticism, writing from her new Twitter account named the “Office of Melania Trump”: “Beschloss has proven his ignorance by showing a picture of the Rose Garden in its infancy. The Rose Garden is graced with a healthy & colorful blossoming of roses. His misleading information is dishonorable & he should never be trusted as a professional historian.” Like her husband, she responded to criticism with hyperbolic personal attack, suggesting that the person who dared to question her be distrusted in all areas forever. But Melania and her husband are no longer in a position to rewrite history — and they may struggle to take control of the narrative in this particular conversation.

Before we get into the perfect metaphor of Melania and Donald Trump sapping America’s most famous garden of its joy and lifeblood, let’s consider the truth behind Berchloss’s claims. What we do know: Just three weeks after the Rose Garden redo began, there was already work that needed to be done to fix it. And whether or not the roses “in their infancy” regrew, there seemed to many — including me — a clear lack of color as compared to its previous iteration after Melania was done with it. Where the trees went is also a mystery, even if some shrubs appear to have popped up in their place.

The stripped garden is a story of grief. It’s a story of less diversity and the negative consequences of that. And it’s a story of mean-spirited, failed repair: a “making America great” with a pessimistic undertone that led to making a small part of America much darker, sadder and less spectacular than before.

Our garden is sick and in need of care. Significant action should be taken. The compassion and dedication that is needed when tending to a garden is needed inside our White House now: solutions for those without healthcare, those who are homeless, and those whose voices have been left unheard. We can’t fake it. The proof of what we did to ourselves is right in front of us. Now is the time to rebuild.

When we look at the White House Rose Garden, it is an American reminder that we have the potential to create wondrous things that are the envy of the whole world. With a little bit of work, we can plant seeds that grow into an unforgettable landscape. We can secure our positions in history.

We can choose to do that — or we can choose to argue on Twitter about the damage we already did. It’s that simple. And I know which one will actually make America great again. Don’t you?

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