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The moment Melania Trump became ‘mourner-in-chief’

August 26, 2020, 12:44 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Amazon appoints the first Black woman to its leadership team, the Girl Scouts get new uniforms, and Melania Trump speaks at the RNC. Have a lovely Wednesday.

– Melania, mourner-in-chief. It’s safe to say the expectations for First Lady Melania Trump’s address at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night were low. After a disastrous appearance in 2016 in which Trump lifted lines from a Michelle Obama speech, Trump’s chief of staff made news by promising that her 2020 remarks would be wholly original.

On that, Trump seems to have delivered. But she also struck an empathetic tone that few public figures have bothered to muster, even in this moment of mass grief.

“My deepest sympathy goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one and my prayers are with those who are ill or suffering. I know many people are anxious and some feel helpless. I want you to know you are not alone,” she said.

Her larger argument, of course, was that her husband is best suited to lead the nation through the next four years. But in those few lines free from partisan rhetoric, Trump recognized the pandemic for what it is—a human tragedy—rather than using it as an opportunity to score political points.

The elusive first lady has often undercut official White House stances and her comments on the pandemic were no different, right down to the verb tense. While other RNC speakers referenced the coronavirus as a past threat, Trump acknowledged that the crisis and the enormous pain it’s caused are still very present.

Even as 1,000 Americans die from COVID-19 each day, the “It is what it is” president has failed to assume the unofficial role that comes with the Oval Office, that of ‘mourner-in-chief.’ For a moment on Tuesday night, the first lady filled in.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Cover pledge. The groundbreaking artistic magazine covers continue with Vogue's September issue, featuring works by two artists. Jordan Casteel, tapped for the issue's cover, chose to paint Aurora James, the designer who started the 15% Pledge urging retail businesses to stock Black-owned products on their shelves. Vogue

- S-team. Alicia Boler Davis will be the first Black executive (and, by extension, the first Black woman) to serve on Amazon's senior leadership team. The VP of global customer fulfillment is a former GM exec. CNN

- Flying blind. As the coronavirus disrupts in-person exams, it's also revealing unconscious bias. That was the case at Paris’s prestigious postgraduate school Ecole Normale Superieure. It scrapped a face-to-face oral exam that accompanied a written test that didn't reveal candidates' identities. The result? Seventy-seven percent of successful candidates for the main literature section were women, significantly higher than the 59% average over the past five years. Fortune

- Equality holiday. Today is Women's Equality Day, a date honoring the formal adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Earlier this month, we remembered the ratification of the amendment.) For the annual holiday, Sen. Kamala Harris wrote an op-ed arguing that the best way to honor those who fought for the right to vote is to vote in this year's election. Washington Post

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Google promoted Halimah DeLaine Prado, head of its product legal team, to general counsel. Former Rapid7 CMO Carol Meyers joins the board of Zipwhip. The Fuller Project named interim editor-in-chief Khushbu Shah to the role on a permanent basis. At Bain & Co., New York partner Maria Gordian will head the firm’s new Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council; Chicago partner Julie Coffman will be the founding leader of the firm's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practice area. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Hairstory. The September issue of Glamour is the hair issue, featuring six Black women reflecting on how their hair has intersected with their professional lives. From a relaxer brand that once advertised, "Was it her résumé? Or Raveen?" to the women in the military who fought to wear their hair as they choose, read the stories here: Glamour

- Fashion-forwardFor the first time in decades, the Girl Scouts have a new uniform. The Gen Z scouts need a pocket for an iPhone, leggings, and a denim jacket. New York Times

- Voting bloc. President Trump has said that "suburban women" have no reason to "vote for Biden and the Democrats when Democrat run cities are now rampant with crime … which could easily spread to the suburbs." Several suburban women, most of them white, tell Politico, however, that that line of argument doesn't do much to influence their vote. Politico

ON MY RADAR

Bettye LaVette didn’t know the Beatles’ "Blackbird." Then it helped her fly New York Times

Why Catherine O’Hara and Cecily Strong love oblivious people New York Times

New York attorney general sues to block Postal Service changes Politico

PARTING WORDS

"From the beginning, we knew we wanted to build a visionary organization."

-Kandace Montgomery, a director of the Minneapolis organizing group Black Visions