Melania Trump’s Odd Fashion Choice

Melania Trump visited a detention center in Texas where children are being held by the Federal Government, but it was her choice of apparel that seemed to garner the most attention.

First Lady Melania Trump took a trip to the Texas-Mexico border to visit some of the detention centers where both minors who arrived at the border unaccompanied and children who were taken from their parents under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy which was modified on Wednesday to supposedly bring the practice of separating families to an end. Given that it was one of the first times since Trump became President that the First Lady reached out on her own in the middle of a high-profile news story such as this, her visit garnered significant media attention. The thing that raised many eyebrows, though, was her rather odd fashion choice:


When the first lady, Melania Trump, on a surprise humanitarian visit to a children’s shelter in Texas, strode onto her airplane in an olive green Zara army jacket with those words scrawled in faux white graffiti on the back, it sent the watching world into what might be called, with some understatement, a meltdown.

“Insensitive,” “heartless” and “unthinking” were some of the words hurled through the digisphere about the choice.

“It’s a jacket,” her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to reporters. “There was no hidden message.”

She’s right, of course. It wasn’t hidden. It was literally written on the first lady’s back. The question is: Who was the intended audience?

The assumption implicit in the outrage is that the message was meant for those Mrs. Trump was meeting. But here’s the thing: The first lady has had some experience with the attention paid when she boards planes.

She knows everyone is going to be watching. Remember back in August 2017 when she walked across the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews in sky-high Manolo stilettos during the Texas flood crisis? At that time, the shoes seemed to symbolize her enormous remove from the trauma, and she became the target of great opprobrium for the choice.

She is well aware that nothing a first lady wears is “just” an anything, especially nothing she wears to a public event in which she remains silent, but knows she will be photographed — as her experience with the high heels to Texas would have taught her (and taught her advisers).

To accept the idea she just threw the Zara jacket on in practically the same situation because — hey, it was close at hand and she was maybe a little bit cool (or something like that) is simply unbelievable.

Especially because this time around Mrs. Trump chose to wear something from the mass market brand Zara — Zara! — instead of her usual Dolce & Gabbana or Ralph Lauren. This is a first lady, after all, who decided to wear a $1,380 Balmain plaid shirt during a White House gardening initiative. She is not a high/low dresser in public — or has never been since the election. She’s been all high seemingly all the time.

So how else to interpret the Zara jacket, a style in line with the signature self-protective aesthetic she has developed since entering the White House, except as an indication Mrs. Trump was thinking about what people might read into the clothes she chose to wear to visit children left with, effectively, nothing?

The jacket, after all, which is reportedly sold out and is not from the current season, retailed for $39. It may be the least expensive garment the first lady has worn while representing the administration.

And then there’s the fact that Mrs. Trump has never been one to shy away from coding pointed, not necessarily, popular communications into her wardrobe. She did, after all, wear a white trouser suit — the uniform of the Hillary Clinton-led opposition — to her husband’s first State of the Union address.

So who was the target of that not-so-hidden message?

I wasn’t paying much attention to the news yesterday afternoon, so I didn’t see any of the coverage of the First Lady’s visit and I can’t speak to how much of the real-time coverage focused on her choice of apparel rather than the fact of her visit alone. When I checked Twitter, though, all of the focus was on the jacket and what the First Lady was thinking when she wore that jacket on a visit to what is without question an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ordinarily, this isn’t something I’d even pay very much attention to, just as I didn’t pay much attention to the activities of previous First Ladies except to the extent that they strayed into an area of public policy such as Hillary Clinton often did during her husband’s Presidency. That being said, there’s just something so strange about this story that it feels like one needs to at least put it out there for discussion if for no other reason than the fact that it seems to be what everyone else is talking about.

Right off the top of the bat, I have to agree with the author of the New York Times piece excerpted above. The idea that Mrs. Trump isn’t aware of the fact that the things she does are going to be noticed is simply too absurd to be believed. This is, after all, a woman who has been modeling since she was a young girl and was something of a semi-celebrity in her own right as a “supermodel” before she ever met, began dating, and eventually married Donald Trump. She’s also obviously an intelligent woman who, will she attended but never graduated from college when living in her native Slovenia, nonetheless is purportedly fluent in five languages. Both during her time as a model, as Trump’s wife, and as First Lady, she’s obviously gotten used to, if not entirely comfortable with, the fact that she’s being followed around by photographers and members of the media. She has hired experienced advisers who clearly seem knowledgeable about the kind of scrutiny a First Lady can be subjected to. Finally, she’s obviously fashion conscious enough to realize that people are going to pay attention to what she’s wearing at a given point in time. Given all that, I think we can dismiss the idea that this jacket, which apparently hasn’t been for sale since last year, just happened to be something she grabbed on the way out the door to Marine One yesterday.

Since I’m not a mindreader, I’m not going to try to posit what, if any, message the First Lady was trying to send yesterday, but it seems clear she was sending a message of some kind. However, leaving aside the easily dismissed notion that this was just some random thing that was dragged out of the back of a closet in the White House Residence, there seem to be a limited number of possibilities. One is that she really doesn’t care about the children being separated at the border. This, however, would be inconsistent with the statement her office released on Sunday and inconsistent with previous actions on her part which, notwithstanding what one might think about her husband, clearly indicate that she cares about children and the ways that issues such as bullying impact them. Another possibility is that she wore the jacket as some sort of show of support to her husband and it was meant to appeal to his base, which itself has indicated that it really doesn’t care about these kids and that it cares more about kicking immigrants, particularly those from Mexico and Central America, out of the country. Yet another possibility is that she chose the jacket knowing it would garner attention, detract from the image the Administration was obviously trying to send by sending her to a detention center, and that she reluctantly complied but wore the jacket knowing it would detract from the image the Administration was trying to put forward. Finally, President Trump took to Twitter last night to offer his own explanation:

I’ll leave it for the reader to decide for themselves what all of this might mean.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. SKI says:

    2 additional facts:

    1. She then chose to wear it again while deplaning after returning from the visit (hours after it was a big enough deal that her spokesperson had responded to it).

    2. It was 81 degrees. She chose to wear the trenchcoat in 81 degree weather.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It’s all an act as detailed in her prenup. Whatever she actually thinks about this situation, or any other for that matter, her actions show that the only thing she really believes in is money. I suppose Barron too.

  3. MBunge says:

    It’s nice to get up in the morning and have an object of your criticism confirm the correctness and appropriateness of that criticism. THIS deserves a post because “everybody” is talking about it?


  4. @MBunge:

    And yet you chose to comment……..

  5. Kathy says:

    She chose to marry the orange beast. Whatever judgment she has, it’s not good.

  6. James Pearce says:

    “It’s a jacket,” her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to reporters. “There was no hidden message.”

    No, it was painted in English on the back of her jacket. Should have been airbrushed, though, because that would have been really gangster.

  7. CSK says:

    The whole thing defies any sort of rational explanation. In the first place, a jacket like this isn’t appropriate for a 48-year-old woman; it’s the kind of thing teenagers wear, not middle-aged FLOTUSes. She wore it leaving the WH and returning to the WH, but not to the detention centers, so it probably wasn’t a message to the kids. In any case, if it were a message to the kids, she’d be sabotaging her own apparent efforts to get them reunited with their families. What would be the point of that?

    If it was a “f*ck you” message to her husband, then it should have been less open to other interpretations. Maybe: “I really don’t care about u, Donald; do u care about me?”

  8. CSK says:


    Well, everyone’s talking about it because when the First Lady of the United States boards Marine One and then Air Force One clad in a jacket with “I Don’t Give Two Flying Sh!ts” written on the back, it’s news.

  9. teve tory says:

    OT, but this is so deranged I can’t resist.

    Donald J. Trump

    Verified account

    Follow Follow @realDonaldTrump
    Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!

    4:06 AM – 22 Jun 2018

  10. James Pearce says:


    THIS deserves a post because “everybody” is talking about it?

    C’mon, Mike, even the folks who aren’t talking about it knows how utterly weird it is for Melania Trump, FLOTUS, to be painting messages on her jacket like its 1976 and she just discovered the Ramones, and for what? To troll the media like Shia LeBouf mid-meltdown?

    I can understand why you wouldn’t want that kind of behavior to be discussed and analyzed, but do you see how other people, who are not inclined to be generous to the Trumps, might have a different opinion?

  11. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: Once again…if you don’t like the topics the hosts choose to post, you’re free to spend your time elsewhere.

    But no, you still show up here and engage in the rhetorical equivalent of being invited into someone’s house for dinner and then spending the entire meal complaining about what the host chose to cook.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory:

    We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!

    This reminds me of Romney, who managed to convince himself that there was a core constituency that would vote for him but not show up in the polls. He was so absolutely certain that he only wrote out a victory speech and was completely unprepared for the loss.

  13. Kylopod says:


    If it was a “f*ck you” message to her husband, then it should have been less open to other interpretations.

    I think there’s a distinct possibility she’s trolling her husband by not being obvious enough that he’d get the message: saying FU without him realizing it’s an FU. I’ve been seeing this theory for a while now, in reaction to a variety of weird things she’s done.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    OK, this is just my own personal thoughts and so worth absolutely nothing but Imore or less think Melania is, morally, at least an average person. At an early age she realized she had great beauty and managed to parlay that into a ticket out of a backwater. And it took hard work. Have you seen the way she walks? The poise? That isn’t natural, that’s a lot of practice. A lot. But she is intelligent enough to realize the modeling profession has a “sell by” date attached to it. So she met this billionaire and figured this was a ticket to security. This may not be the most admirable thing but it is so common as to be a norm and speaks more about her lack of self confidence and paucity of options for an immigrant in her situation. They were married, she had a baby and no doubt she figured she could fulfill her role as arm candy and elegant hostess until he drifted into senility and then she could be a free woman with financial security.

    And then the nightmare started. She had a son that by some accounts, has learning disabilities. She had a husband that would not hesitate to take him away from her to be raised by nannies just to spite her. I would not be surprised in any way to find that he regularly puts her down and undermines her worth and threatens to leave her penniless and separated from his child. And so she strikes back in small little ways and never ever admits that’s what she is doing. The Cyber-bullying campaign comes to mind. And this coat. She didn’t paint that on herself, but it is a $39 Zara item that had a brief craze in the fashion world. She wears blouses that cost literally 30-40 times that. She bought this, at least a year ago (it was last years item and is no longer in the catalog) and waited for her moment. She wore it on an 81 degree day when she left the Whitehouse, and took it off before she visited the children. She then put it back on just before she deplaned and went back into the Whitehouse. I have no idea what it means, but I bet Donald does.

  15. Cian Cafferky says:

    I feel it is only right to give a pass to those who find themselves caught up in a life they never planned for. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama would fit this category, and Melanie too. But the coat…Jesus. That no one on her staff felt comfortable enough to advise her not to wear the damn thing speaks volumes and suggests she too is a nasty, self-obsessed narcissist. Not sure how else to read it other than as a message to Trump’s crazies, and delivered to coincide with a visit to children her husband ordered taken from their parents. Honestly, there is a level of sickness within this family that deifies explanation.

  16. Kathy says:

    I think if this incident illustrates anything, is that imported White Trash is no better than that produced domestically.

  17. al Ameda says:


    It’s nice to get up in the morning and have an object of your criticism confirm the correctness and appropriateness of that criticism. THIS deserves a post because “everybody” is talking about it?

    Okay Mike it’s ‘try to be fair and balanced’ time.
    Imagine if you will, it’s June 1994, same ‘immigrant crisis’ and the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton does exactly as Melania did – wearing the the jacket, with that slogan – would this be news, would this be covered and obsessed over 24/7 by all media? Or would Fox, CNN , the ‘MSM’ networks all ignore this and instead cover Bill Clinton’s Space Force initiative?

  18. CSK says:


    I think it probably is the case that she was trolling him, and I agree that he’s probably too dense to get it, but again, she or her handlers had to know how open to misinterpretation this would be. It’s not the same as riding in a separate car to the SOTU and wearing a pantsuit in a style and color that’s associated with Hillary Clinton.

    But this…what it looks like is that he forced her to go to Texas to burnish his image (if that’s possible), she didn’t want to go, and made that point by advertising to the world that she doesn’t care about the kids and neither does he.

  19. barbintheboonies says:

    @CSK: It was meant for the media and people like most of you here, that only have criticism for her, no matter what she does.

  20. rachel says:

    What was she thinking: “Sure, you can make me go visit some kids, but I can make sure you’ll regret it”?

  21. CSK says:


    Come on, Barb. Melania’s own spokeswoman said there was no message; it was “just a jacket.” Then Donald barges in a few hours later and says it was a message to the fake media that Melania doesn’t care what they say. Please. This is pure projection on Trump’s part.

  22. KM says:

    This is a woman who’s livelihood depended (and still does to a large extent) on her appearance. There’s absolutely no way in hell she just happened to grab that coat on the way out the door, even if it was her absolutely favorite thing ever and the comfiest thing she’s ever owned. There’s absolutely no way she bought it without knowing what it would look like if she ever wore it in public and let’s face it, you only wear a coat like that in public.

    FLOTUS thought it was a good idea to walk out in that coat twice and you can’t tell me there’s not backup clothing on that plane just in case of things like this. No matter who she was flipping off, it was inappropriate AF considering where she was going and who she is. I get she’s striking out (at whom is the real question) but this kind of petty horseshit doesn’t belong out on the White House lawn. Family drama should stay private, not political and if its directed at the press/ liberals/ people she doesn’t like, it shows a stunning lack of class that needs to be called out.

    I expect to see that in the trailer park, not the White House. Be Best, Melania – this ain’t it.

  23. KM says:

    @barbintheboonies :
    Well, in which case she deserves the criticism, don’t you think? You are what you do.

    I’ll tell you what my grammie told me: don’t want to be called white trash, then don’t act like it. It’s a state of being, not a birth defect. You can be born in a rundown trailer with a dirt floor and still act like a Lady. Keep your head up, keep your nose clean and for god sake, don’t give in to the petty BS to lash out and prove they’re right. Doesn’t matter what they say behind your back because it’s noise in the wind but if you act like they expect, well they were right to expect it weren’t they?

    Again, her husband is a lost cause but Melania can do better. She should since she’s the only role model her child has and could be one for the nation.

  24. Terrye Cravens says:

    Ana Navarro:

    Then in that case, please tell Melania, Marie Antoinette called. She wants her jacket back.

    This is the problem with the jacket. Tacky.

  25. James Pearce says:


    It was meant for the media and people like most of you here, that only have criticism for her, no matter what she does.

    There’s no question who the message was meant for, but why did she have to express herself like a “sevie” raiding Mom’s craft room? Doesn’t FLOTUS have access to a professional messaging operation? Now granted, that kind of thing isn’t used to express messages as banal and pointless as “I don’t care,” but in theory, it could be.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    Maybe it means that she does’t care if Baron is kidnapped.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump staged an abduction just to take the heat off the Mueller Investigation.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:


    I’ll tell you what my grammie told me: don’t want to be called white trash, then don’t act like it. It’s a state of being, not a birth defect.

    Preach it. I am white trash – 16 year-old mother, runaway father, learned to swim in a Florida panhandle bayou next to the trailer we lived in, and I’m a certified high school drop-out to boot.

    But I will say I get grief from both sides of the spectrum for that. The Right are reflexive forelock tuggers and absolute ignoramuses which explains why they fall to their knees and worship Trump. They’re people forever looking for a king to take their tedious liberty and tell them what to think and do. I am excluded from that group as I have taste, am capable of understanding abstract concepts and have never been a toady.

    But on the Left I run into the educated white middle class of English majors – roughly 99% of kidlit people – who’ve had no experience of life but have their heads full of ideas they don’t actually understand and who insist on speaking in a baroque edu-jargon full of qualifiers, excuses, inclusions, exclusions, and endless rounds of stroking and counter-stroking. These people despise me for expressing actual ideas in simple English which diverge from the Seven Sisters Hive Mind’s script.

    It’s hard out there for white trash.

  28. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “These people despise me for expressing actual ideas in simple English which diverge from the Seven Sisters Hive Mind’s script.”

    I teach in one of the few creative writing MFAs in the country that encourages genre fiction. (Since I teach TV and film writing, that’s never been an issue for me personally…) And our graduates are hugely successful, not surprising when you consider our fiction faculty is led by a best-selling crime writer and includes one of the most acclaimed horror writers in the world.

    Our director was on a panel at AWP — the annual conference for such programs — describing our approach, when one of these very people jumped up and shouted that we were basically destroying literature and perverting the very idea of a creative writing MFA.

    To which our director simply responded “You sound like a guy who hasn’t had a book in Barnes and Noble in twenty years.”

  29. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    These people despise me for expressing actual ideas in simple English which diverge from the Seven Sisters Hive Mind’s script.


  30. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @wr:

    You two are playing my song. A zillion thumbs up to you both.

  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    I like to remind literary snobs that Hunger Games – just the first book – fed more cash into publishing than every literary novel published in the last 20 years combined. It’s a bidness, people, and genre fiction pays the bills so that the Eloi from Brown and the Iowa Writers Workshop can publish their precious autobiographical whinges and sell 2000 copies in Park Slope and the Upper West Side.

    I had a reviewer (Mal Peet) early on suggest that I was writing YA novels like TV series or movies. He seemed to think that was an insult. As young readers are continuously seduced away from reading by TV, movies and games, I took it as a compliment.

    Then again, we white trash do tend to have a bit of a chip on our shoulders.

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    Incidentally TV writing is very often damned good, and done in conditions (writers rooms) that I personally find appalling. If I had to write books timed to commercial breaks, structured to hit mid-season jeopardy and season-finale cliffhangers, economically limited as to sets and FX and God knows what else, taking flak from agents who don’t think their actors are getting enough air time, taking notes from 25 year-old executives who couldn’t write a coherent shopping list, and being attacked on Twitter by ‘fans’ who won’t give me even a second fcking episode to pay off something the idiot fan objected to, I’d lose my mind.

  33. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: GRRM had a similar take. Got so frustrated by the limitations of budget and producers.

  34. PJ says:

    We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!

    Red Wave? This is more like Red Dawn with the Cubans replaced with Quislings aka Republicans.

  35. TM01 says:

    Meanwhile, in real news, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been ruled unconstitutional.

    But that jacket!! #OMG

    BTW, Fauxahontas was hit hardest by the news.

  36. TM01 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    …I’d lose my mind.


    It’s too late!!


  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Nice try, but Trump is neither smart enough nor introspective enough to figure this out. Nor, do I expect, would he care.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @barbintheboonies: Then it seems to have been a poor play.

  39. Yank says:

    It was meant for the media and people like most of you here, that only have criticism for her, no matter what she does.

    Who criticizes Melania Trump? If anything people tend to give her a pass and feel sorry for her.

  40. Steve V says:

    I don’t think that 20-day absence for a benign kidney condition was for what they said it was for, and I think this is related to it.

  41. Jen says:

    @barbintheboonies: She’s had that coat for a while, given it’s last season Zara–why wear it now? If it was really directed at the media, wouldn’t timing have been better to wear it after her strange month-long disappearance? The message would have been clear and unobstructed had that been the case.

    I’m going to have to say, “nope, not directed at the media.”

  42. CSK says:


    I’m beginning to wonder if she borrowed it from Barron for the occasion. Since when does someone who thinks nothing of spending $51,000 for a single outfit plunk down 39 bucks for last seasons’ schmatta?

  43. Charon says:


    I’m going to have to say, “nope, not directed at the media.”

    DJT tweet about “fake news media” was just to sow confusion by squirting squid ink and gaslighting. As soon as I saw that tweet I knew that it would be the gaslighting “party line” that would bounce around the right wing media echo chamber to be believed by the people who get their news from Breitbart and Fox and so forth.

    It does not even make any sense, but that’s never an obstacle to the true believers down the Conservative rabbit hole.

    There are some bad optics associated with Zara, too.

    Act 4 Washpo

    And in her own basic yet unintentional way, Melania Trump is telling another story with her Zara jacket: She’s the walking embodiment of the exploitation of children in the name of big business. The Spanish-owned brand has been accused of using child labor in South America. The company was forced to apologize and pay fines after immigrant workers in Brazil claimed they were forced to work 12-hour shifts every day, for between $156 and $290 a month. It’s fitting that Trump would wear a jacket from a brand that has apologized for mistreating immigrant workers.

    The company is also known for controversial right-wing designs.

  44. Jay L Gischer says:

    I wouldn’t say that I personally was raised white trash, I’m merely white trash adjacent. They lived down the road. They were my friends and classmates.

    The “war” between popular writers and literary fiction makes me roll my eyes. I read and enjoy both kinds. I know where the unhappiness comes from on both sides.

    If you are very smart, got good grades, went to the right schools, and did everything they said to do, you find yourself at a dead-end, with little economic support. If you are really lucky, you can get a job teaching English somewhere, and crank out literary novels that are praised, but don’t give you much of an income. It’s a rude awakening. And so, not knowing who to blame, you castigate those who enjoy commercial success, even though their style is, by your lights, lacking.

    And on the other side, if you write things that people like, and read, and spend money to buy, you might rightly ask who are you to judge me? And that, in many cases, is going to tie into your feelings of class judgement. This is hard to name, because we aren’t supposed to have social classes in America.

    I endorse your complaints about the literary elite almost wholeheartedly except for the gendered part of it. In fact, the literary world, at the top, is still ruled by men, which seems very weird to me, and to most of the women with aspirations in that direction.

    In contrast, women have had huge commercial success in writing. I kind of think the best thing would be to just ignore the “literary elite”. It’s easier to do that now than it has ever been. Although I will say this: Spelling always counts.

  45. KM says:

    What’s even stupider about the Trumpkin rationale is this behavior should be *very* familiar to them. You don’t lash out or rebuke random third parties like this to make your point; this is how you embarrass family. Making a passive-aggressive scene is TOTALLY personal. The whole point is it’s public, obvious and humiliating to the person you’re taking it out on, leaving them to scramble for a weak explanation to save face. Variations include: the mother in law who wears black to the wedding, the daughter that brings the socially unacceptable boyfriend out to the important dinner /party/ event, etc.

    Dysfunctional family 101: It’s never an FU to the event or crowd themselves, it’s ALWAYS a personal dig. For god sake, she’s FLOTUS and could have had a designer work up a chic “Stuff your Fake News” jacket if that’s what she wanted. Nope, rocking a cheap year old jacket with a wannabe sassy emo teen quip on her way to deal with hubby’s latest dumpster fire – nothing to do with Donald here, no sirree!

  46. CSK says:

    Another thing: “I really don’t care” might, just might, make sense directed at the media if left at that. But the addition of “Do u” is meaningless if directed at the press. Of course they care. It’s their job. “Do u” to signify the media is beside the point. As a message to Donny, however, it’s right on point.

  47. Charon says:


    If some action results in foreseeable consequences, it’s always possible the consequences were intended. Bad publicity for Donald Trump and the GOP was a pretty foreseeable result of wearing that jacket.

  48. MarkedMan says:

    Re: Literature vs. Books. FWIW, I put this into the category of “why is this even a thing?” Why do we human beings have to put everything into competition? Which do you like better, a loaded Chicago style hot dog or fried yam with pepper sauce? Unless I’m going to be trapped on a desert island with one, and only one, fully stocked street vendor, there’s no value in even making the choice. Who is a better guitarist, Hendrix or Reinhardt? Do you prefer an icy cold glass of water or a single malt?

    Added into this, of course, is that writers of literature tend to struggle just to make a living and it probably sticks in their craw that even if they produce an acknowledged masterpiece it will never sell within a couple of orders of magnitude of one of Dan Brown’s airplane books. There is an element of anger and kicking the big guy in the shins when they get the chance.

    BTW, Dan Brown is truly, truly awful as a craftsman. I think. Horrible dialog and ridiculous plot points which hinge on things like there being no such thing as a backup hard drive any where in the world, and that the architect of the most advanced computer system fixes it by pushing around a cart full of tools, opening up random panels in the walls and soldering things. But somehow I got through two or three of them and couldn’t put them down until I was done. Afterwards I felt like a had just ate an entire giant bag of dollar store Cheetoh knockoffs and washed it down with a couple of cans of Yahoo! that had spent a couple summers too long stored in an un-airconditioned garage. How does he do it? How does he keep me turning the pages when virtually every one has a clinker? Find that and bottle it, Reynolds, and I’ll buy a gallon.

  49. dazedandconfused says:

    Well…I think it’s something Cheetolini deeply regrets saying to his wife.

    She’s a mom, if she button-holed her hubby on this issue and got that reply…I almost pity the fool.

    Why be this outrageous about it? I speculate the pre-nup post-nup conditions vary drastically depending on who is leaving whom. She asks for a divorce? She gets squat. He asks for a divorce? She gets HALF.

    If I were in her shoes, married to that idiot, I would consider becoming such an embarrassment in the hope the dick-head considers it worth paying HALF to be rid of me.

    Just a WAG.

  50. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan: What Dan Brown does that works–the only thing he does which works–is plot out a succession of short chapters where each one ends in a mini-cliffhanger that compels you to read just a bit more. If you can do this, you can write a Dan Brown book. Literally everything else he’s terrible at.

  51. SKI says:


    The company is also known for controversial right-wing designs.

    And for stealing smaller artists’ designs from Etsy…

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @teve tory:

    Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.

    Yep. That’s Dan Brown. I also like this one:

    Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop’s ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.

    Indeed, it takes a keen eye to see a such a ring. We mere mortals might think it was just a wart if we noticed it all…

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Okay, I have to admit I was a bit harsh on the parchment paper comment. I just thought of someone who actually matches that description to a T: Cassandra O’brien*

    *Obscure Doctor Who reference

  54. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Writers rooms are actually wonderful places (assuming the EP isn’t a douchebag or going through a divorce or both). Getting paid to sit in a room with other talented writers, each bringing his or her own unique perspective is about as good as work gets!

    As for writing to the strict structure, I think it was Goethe who said that the restrictions make the art…

    The agents, execs and fans, though? Not the good part of the job…

  55. wr says:

    @Jay L Gischer: “And on the other side, if you write things that people like, and read”

    I’m with you on just about every thing you said — except the above sentence… and I’d be good with that if you’d added “things that A LOT of people like.”

    There’s this crazy belief among some that those who read literary fiction or watch art movies or even Shakespeare don’t actually enjoy it — that they’re just doing it to impress others.

    But of course that’s ludicrous. There are great works that will never be enormously popular, and they’re not designed to be. There should be room for both. So while I despise litsnobs who look down on popular fiction and Marvel movies, I also despise the reverse snobs who insist that only pop culture is worth paying attention to.

  56. Joe says:

    @teve tory:

    Dan Brown must have studied Thomas Hardy. Of course, most Thomas Hardy novels were originally published as magazine serials, thus the need for a cliff hanger – to buy the next magazine. (And thus I prove for today my English major heritage.)

  57. Gustopher says:

    How is it that she even has such a jacket?

    I think there’s actually an amazing story here — not a deeply newsworthy story, but an amazing personal story — about the discovery and procurement of this jacket, and the various assistants and aids that somehow either let this happen or failed to stop it.

    I think it had more to do with her relationship than with the internment camps for children, but that’s mostly because I think she’s not an astonishingly awful human being who wants everyone to know how awful she is. Or she understands that her actions will be assumed to be a mere extension of her husband’s.

    It does remind me of her speech at the convention, where she plagiarized Michelle Obama — I don’t buy the “poor, dim-witted immigrant just borrowed someone else’s words” excuse that the Trumpies were pushing.

  58. grumpy realist says:

    @barbintheboonies: If it was a message, it was a damn convoluted message….she would have done better blinking out SOS signals with her eyelids.

    As it is, the jacket just makes her look bats.

  59. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: “Moisturize me! Moisturize me!” (explodes)

    If we want to talk about some great TV scripts, Doctor Who has some fantastic lines…I especially liked River Song’s “I’m an archeologist from the future. I. Dug. You. Up.”

  60. Stormy Dragon says:


    BTW, Dan Brown is truly, truly awful as a craftsman.

    The best summary of what’s wrong with Dan Brown is that he’s now written five books about Robert Langdon without figuring out that the academic field he’s describing is called “semiotics”, not “symbology”.

  61. Stormy Dragon says:


    But somehow I got through two or three of them and couldn’t put them down until I was done.

    May I recommend Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco?

  62. Jay L Gischer says:

    @wr: I like your edit. It’s better. I accept it.

  63. CSK says:

    The DNC really ought to send Melania a nice big bunch of roses and a lovely fruit basket. They’re now selling–at –green t-shirts with the message: “I Care. I Vote. Do u?”

  64. teve tory says:

    @Joe: it’s a very effective technique. I’ve read three of his books straight through even while rolling my eyes. 😛

  65. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’ll give it a go. I really liked The Name of the Rose

  66. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    The only one I ever read –and I had to force myself because the prose, characterizations, and dialogue were so, so abysmally bad–was The DaVinci Code, and when I got to the last page, I said to myself, “What the hell was that about?”

  67. Stormy Dragon says:


    Foucault’s Pendulum is essentially a Robert Langdon novel if Dan Brown actually knew what he was talking about.

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: My guess would be that you like the genre. I’ve taken some Dan Brown books from friends and read them. I used them for going to sleep books, and they worked pretty well for me in that guise. Entertainment? Not so much. Enlightenment? Not at all. But I don’t like the genre.

    @ Stormy Dragon: Read Foucalut’s Pendulum. Felt that it read like someone’s doctoral dissertation subsequently fictionalized, but it was another great going to sleep book. It lasted for months!

  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I saw it more as a bildungsromans about a character with arrested development. I never figured out why he hadn’t grown up though.

  70. Gustopher says:

    There’s no way she bought a $50 jacket a year ago and waited for the right moment to wear it.

    I’d like to think that somewhere some eBay seller had a mixture of terror and resignation as they shipped a package to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that security people opened the package, stared at the coat and quietly said “wtf? Well, it’s not dangerous…”

  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Interesting that guys still run literary publishing. It’s the opposite in kidlit. Of 150+ books I’ve written just 2 were edited by men and none acquired by men.

    I take a very practical approach and treat it like a job. Job #1 is still make money. Job #2 is write something you can be at least moderately proud of. When the bank account goes up or down #1 and #2 can switch places.

    As to literary merit I tend to divide writing into two groups: stuff I could write and stuff I couldn’t write. I’m impressed by people who can do what I can’t, even if I’m not particularly into their work. The rest are just my co-workers so to speak, my peers. With that perhaps odd worldview in mind, I am as likely to be impressed by genre people as by literary ones. I can do some things China Mieville can’t but that boy has some moves I can’t touch. Respect. But there’s some literary stuff (naming no names) that just makes me roll my eyes.

  72. Michael Reynolds says:

    I look at Dan Brown as a sort of literary Harry Carey, who played John Wayne’s guy you need if the strong and silent hero is ever going to have any dialog. He was great being Harry Carey, best Harry Carey ever. He was never going to be a great Hamlet. But hey, someone had to play the sly, garrulous but not overly-bright sidekick, and damned if Harry didn’t rise to the task.

  73. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: I just rewatched Silence in the Library and the Forest of the Dead. My favorite line: “I’m the Doctor and you’re in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up.”

    And what an amazing job of plotting. Four brilliant completely original concepts in one story. I don’t think there’s anyone better than Steven Moffat.

    (Also, fun trivia fact: Talulah Riley, who plays the dumb assistant eaten by shadows here is the former greeter/sex robot, current bloodthirsty cowgirl, in Westworld…)

  74. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: :Foucault’s Pendulum is essentially a Robert Langdon novel if Dan Brown actually knew what he was talking about.”

    And could write.

  75. Stormy Dragon says:


    Oh, another one you might like if you want “Dan Brown but better” is The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon.

  76. teve tory says:

    @wr: weirder fun fact: She’s been married to elon musk twice.

  77. george says:


    I’ll tell you what my grammie told me: don’t want to be called white trash, then don’t act like it.

    Calling people trash is worse than calling them animals. We are, in fact, all animals.

    It was very wrong for Trump to say MS-13 were animals, because he meant ‘just animals’, rather than pointing out a biological fact – people get into gangs because of years of pretty terrible circumstances. Its just as wrong to call Melanie trash. Or at least people should be consistent. If its okay to call one group animals, then its okay to call another group trash. Or its not okay in both cases. But cherry picking is simply bias in action.