Politics aside, one has to acknowledge a grudging sense of admiration for the sheer totality of the Trump administration’s determination to destroy every vestige of US beauty and achievement that preceded it — from its attacks on a huge number of Obama-era policies and practices, to an endless pageant of mustache-twirling villains nominated to head organizations to which their interests are diametrically opposed, to suggesting that perhaps the abomination of Mt. Rushmore could be made more abominable by including our current president (no rock on Earth could support that ego, fortunately). Not to be left out of the fun, Melania Trump has undertaken her latest act of aesthetic sabotage: a renovation of the White House Rose Garden, revealed earlier this week.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 22, 2020
Based on the Nightmare-Before-Christmaslike severity and horror of the First Lady’s 2017 Christmas decorations, it should come as truly no surprise that the Rose Garden reveal includes many aesthetic missteps, as well as those — as with all things Trump — that seem specifically designed to undermine the intended and named purpose of space. First the relocation of crabapple trees, perhaps to celebrate the laundry list of damages inflicted by her husband’s attacks on our National Parks and conservation efforts. Next, the complete stripping away of eye-catching multicolored flowers in favor of a highly toned-down, almost all-white palette, to symbolize the abolishment of the diversity that founded our nation through restrictive and punitive immigration policies; with dashes of pastels to connote the $105 million in taxpayer dollars that have gone to fund presidential golf outings.
Public backlash is, unsurprisingly, fierce, with critics taking to Twitter to point out the gross prioritization of media infrastructure — because who needs bees when you’re trying to build buzz for your latest misinformation campaign — and the deforestation of the garden’s flowering trees, cut back to reveal the stark columned walkways of a house built by slavery. Even Chasten Buttigieg wandered into the fray, to remind us all what could have been…
To think, we could have had gays in there… https://t.co/Tu1IUxBjSn
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) August 22, 2020
A series of before-and-after images show the sharp contrast in the space, and reinforce Melania’s reputation for a heady combo of tastelessness and severity in her style choices. While the First Lady claimed to be attempting to pay homage to the vision of the Rose Garden implemented by Jackie Kennedy in the last major refurbishment of the space in the 1960s, she did so by installing harsh concrete sidewalks and stripping away all of the color that her predecessors made the convention of the garden. As such a mean style icon, Melania Trump doesn’t resemble Jackie O so much as Cruella Deville — or perhaps, given her deleterious effect on roses, the Queen of Hearts.