Wellllll, two reasons, not counting the obvious one that she’s naturally more protective of her son than she is of some Swedish teenager. One: Barron avoids the public spotlight whereas Thunberg … does not, to put it very, very mildly. The cynical calculation in making her the face of a political movement is that although she behaves like an adult activist in every meaningful way she can’t be ridiculed the way an adult activist might be without it coming off as bullying. She’s both sword and shield, a political figure willing and able to rhetorically flay her opponents who nonetheless can’t be mocked even lightly by adults without causing (or seeming to cause) grave offense. I mean, really:

Maybe Melania’s as annoyed as everyone else by the left’s St. Greta game and thinks the criticism of Trump in this case is better directed at the adults around Thunberg who are exploiting her.

Two: Maybe Melania’s as embarrassed as everyone else to see the president of the United States gratuitously trolling anyone, let alone a kid, in a moment of jealousy because he didn’t win Time’s Important-est Person of 2019 award.

It’s a playground taunt, one child to another. Abby Huntsman’s right when she says in the clip below that Trump has a hang-up about Time magazine, to the point of posting fake Time covers with his picture on them at his golf courses. That’d be weird under any circumstances but it’s really weird coming from a guy who had a ton of real magazine covers with his face on them that he could have posted instead. Like so much of his political persona, his fascination with Time appears to be driven by nostalgia: It was massively influential when he was growing up, the most esteemed newsweekly in America, and so its annual choice for “Man of the Year” carried a measure of esteem that few other honors in American life did. It was special, and its specialness seems never to have faded in his mind.

No one in his own party (or outside the news industry, really) much cares about the POTY anymore, ironically in part because the complaint Trump himself so often makes about media bias has been commonplace on the right for ages. Everyone assumed this year’s winner would be either Thunberg or the whistleblower because who else would the Manhattan liberals who edit Time logically choose? When events conspire to force them to choose a right-winger, as Trump’s shocking election in 2016 did, they’ll do it. Never otherwise.

Anyway, his campaign tried to leverage his ill-advised tweet into a way to promote his accomplishments in office, which was smart. When Trump’s ego gives you lemons, make lemonade. Thunberg herself also took advantage by changing her Twitter bio:

Even a scold as frowny and humorless as St. Greta couldn’t resist goofing on Trump’s weird dig. Go figure that Melania Trump wouldn’t want to call attention to it.

You’ll find Meghan McCain here also arguing that the whistleblower should have been POTY. It’s a defensible choice given that his handiwork has led us to the brink of the third impeachment in American history, but I think her husband, Ben Domenech, had a better choice.