The politicized life is an ugly thing, folks.
First lady Melania Trump this weekend became the target of a Two Minutes Hate from the anti-Trump “resistance” following the reopening of the White House Rose Garden, which she renovated with private donations and the help of the National Parks Service.
One may not care for the new aesthetic, but it is what it is: a garden renovation. However, judging by the onslaught of hate directed at the first lady following the garden’s reopening, one would think that she had murdered a baby panda on live television. And even crazier than a weirdly large number of people claiming to have an emotional investment in the Rose Garden is that their furious responses reveal they are unfamiliar both with the basics of the renovation and horticulture. These people do not know why they are angry. They just know that they are.
“I feel SICK to my stomach that ho cut down our Glorious DC Cherry Trees. Sick,” said actress Lisa Ann Walter. “My outrage is that there’s a classless, illegal immigrant, former escort masquerading as a first lady. Our country deserves better.”
First, those were not “cherry trees” in the Rose Garden. They were crabapple trees. Second, they were not “cut down.” (The remainder of Walter’s note does not dignify a response.) The first lady’s changes emphasize roses, which require at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight. As a result, the crabapple trees have been removed so that their shade does not adversely affect the roses. The trees will be replanted elsewhere on the White House grounds, according to USA Today.
“A seating area on the east side of the garden … has been removed and will be replaced by a yet-to-be-announced art installation,” USA Today reports. “The most visually striking change to the garden was the addition of a 3-foot-wide limestone walking path bordering the central lawn.”
The report adds, “Less noticeable changes include improved drainage and infrastructure and making the garden more accessible for people with disabilities. Audiovisual, broadcasting and other technical fixes are part of the plan, too.”
The online reaction to the renovation, including from the anti-Trump “resistance,” has been utterly deranged. Here is just a small sampling of some of the reflexively angry, ignorant, and remarkably cruel responses that “resisters,” including members of the news and entertainment industries, had this weekend after the Rose Garden’s reopening. And remember, we are talking about a garden here:
“If this isn’t a Marie Antionette moment I don’t know what is,” New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow complained in a characteristically unoriginal tweet. “Who cares about a redesigned rose garden when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, 175k+ people are dead and millions are out of work?”
Los Angeles Times opinion writer Virginia Heffernan added elsewhere, “Melania cut down a cherry tree & drained the life out of the landscape — but would call that fake news.”
The trees were not “cut down.”
“Melania Trump destroyed Jackie Kennedy’s Rose Garden. Think about that. Does it matter much? No. But it sure is emblematic of whose these people are,” said Democratic strategist Tom Watson.
ABC News chief political analyst Matthew Dowd meanwhile complained, “Definition of tone deaf: while millions are out of work and 175000 have died from covid then celebrating a garden renovation that didn’t need to be done.”
“What happened to the trees?” asked NBC News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell. Good question. If only there were someone with sources and contacts who could ask the relevant individuals that question and then, I don’t know, report back to the people. Sigh. Does such a person exist?
Probably the most annoying response, however, came from presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who tweeted the following:
The “before” picture featured in his tweet was taken on April 10, 2008, back when former President George W. Bush was still in office. It is not exactly a “before” picture in a before-and-after snapshot as there is more than a decade between when it was taken and Trump’s renovations. Also, tulips obviously are not in bloom now as it is late August and about a billion degrees in Washington, D.C., though Beschloss’s tweet clearly gives the impression that the Rose Garden looked as pictured just before the first lady’s changes.
Beschloss almost certainly knows all of this. He knows what he did. Unsurprisingly, his obviously misleading tweet became so much grist for the “resistance” mill.
“Here is the colorful, happy Rose Garden under Obama,” said author Jennifer Wright, tweeting the exact same photo from the Bush years, “and here is Melania’s unveiling of the new garden, entirely devoid of color or joy.”
It is unclear whether Wright is aware that tulips do not stay in bloom year-round or that gardens in the later seasons tend to look the way the Rose Garden looks now.
Some on the Right like to joke that members of the anti-Trump “resistance” suffer from “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” or “TDS.” They may have a point, though I would say it is not really a laughing matter anymore. Certain “resisters” seem to be genuinely unwell. Their seething, reflexing hatred for anything this administration does, including garden renovations, suggests a genuinely unhealthy outlook. I myself used to joke that psychiatrists likely have been making a killing thanks to the Trump administration. But based on what I see every day as increasingly deranged behavior, I am not so sure that the people most emotionally affected by the Trump presidency are seeking help.