If we never look toward the light, we’ll forever be stuck in darkness – so today I celebrate the sparkling success of President Trump’s first state dinner, in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

The message to the world was auspicious. Fairytale-like concepts of success and prosperity for a few hours were captured on camera and let us relax for a few precious moments. The first lady in particular provided the nation a respite from her husband’s daily grind with powerful and mercifully soft-spoken haute couture.

Three cheers for Melania Trump, aka “FLOTUS,” acronym for first lady of the United States. Throwing a fabulous party for fussy people is not easy, and she knocked it out of the park – backwards and in high heels, as they said of Ginger Rogers.

“Melania Trump, a former model, made her grand entrance on the North Portico of the White House wearing haute couture Chanel. The silver frock was hand painted and embroidered with crystals and sequins. The choice was unsurprisingly high fashion (a black Givenchy tuxedo cape and custom-made Hervé Pierre hat also made cameos during this visit) and Mrs. Trump seemed wholly at ease in the part she played Tuesday night,” reported The Washington Post.

It’s good FLOTUS is “at ease” for her staff, certainly. According to The New York Times, she regularly advises those employed in the East Wing “do not worry.”

And “do not worry” is good advice for the country, too. Worrying doesn’t solve problems. Melania Trump’s keeping her cool was especially impressive on the heels of national and international gushing about Barbara Bush and her legacy of quiet strength and class.

American state dinners – especially inaugural ones – are a branding opportunity, and I’m glad the Trump White House throws a good party. Donald Trump could have screwed things up – like insisting the wine served come from his vineyards in Virginia, or tweeting something bombastic – but he didn’t. Wine from the West Coast was served, and Trump paraded around in a tux like he was supposed to: head high, chest out, knowing smile. It’s not much, but it’s something.

For a moment, the Trump White House described by The Post was straight out of “The West Wing.” America could plop down on the couch with a bowl of snacks and exhale.

The State Dining Room was described as “dripping with the first couple’s particular brand of style, which leans heavily toward the ornate, the room was decorated in cream and gold. Tall tapered candles illuminated tables draped with heavy damask-like tablecloths placed with china that included a 24-karat gold engraved pattern introduced by then-first lady Hillary Clinton. Low-set tightly massed centerpieces of sweet peas and white lilacs decorated each table. Menu cards embossed with a gold fleur de lis were a nod to the guests of honor. The effect was understated but with a touch of that recognizable Trump flash.”

There is comfort seeing exquisite and historical decor and important people gussied up and sharing a meal. Beautiful china is not a partisan issue. Both Melania Trump and Hillary Clinton know a good dish when they see it.

The leader of the free world should be dignified in honor of the dignity lost by those oppressed elsewhere, and on that night POTUS was stately. When we host our allies in democracy and our compatriots in the global war against terror, it is fitting to pull out all the stops, and FLOTUS did that with aplomb.

Feeling affection for the first family is healthy. Having a sense of humor is healthy, too, so after cringing I laughed when I read how the second family rolls. According to The Post, “When second lady Karen Pence was asked by the waiting press pool how Mrs. Trump was doing as first lady, Vice President Pence answered for her: ‘Breathtaking,’ he said as the second couple made their way to the State Dining Room … .”

“Breathtaking,” indeed.

It is good for Maine that Gov. LePage took his daughter Lauren as his guest to the state dinner, too. Being in the company of the president of the United States and her father is likely an event that Lauren LePage will never forget. Young women learn from witnessing the brokering of power. Being in the room and at the table opens doors. Behind many confident and change-making women are strong, supportive fathers. Both Gov. LePage and President Trump can be credited in this regard.

The photo of Paul and Lauren LePage that splashed all over the national and international news was dignified and represented Maine well. The symbolism of father and daughter was powerful. It was an elegant moment. And on top of that, the governor’s tweet was coherent and done well:

“I am proud to attend tonight’s #StateDinner for France representing Maine’s French heritage. Our state is honored to be included by @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS as they host this first State Visit, and I’m delighted to escort my daughter Lauren this evening #mepolitics @WhiteHouse.”

The days are getting longer and the air is warmer. Peepers are peeping their little hearts out. It feels like things might lighten up.

À vôtre santé.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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