Barron, 14, is sometimes dragged into political debates by virtue of being his father’s son, but this time the First Lady was not having it. Pamela Karlan, a professor of Law at Stanford, who made the ill-judged quip while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment inquiry on December 4, later apologised for her comments. She had been making a point about monarchical barons, and used the President’s son as a play on words, but was branded “mean” by a Republican in the hearing.
Professor Karlan said: “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the President can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.”
She was criticised by Matthew Gaetz, a Republican representative for Florida’s 1st congressional district, who took issue with the joke.
He said: “Let me also suggest that when you invoke the President’s son’s name here, when you try and make a little joke out of referencing Barron Trump, that does not lend credibility to your argument.
“It makes you look mean, it makes you look like you’re attacking someone’s family, the minor child of the President of the US.”
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Melania jumped in immediately to defend her son’s privacy
Professor Pamela Karlan speaking at the Trump impeachment hearing
The First Lady then entered the fray, angrily tweeting her thoughts on the wisecrack.
She wrote: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics.
“Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering and using a child to do it.”
Professor Karlan then apologised for her comment.
Matthew Gaetz, Republican congressman
She said: “I want to apologise for what I said earlier about the President’s son, it was wrong of me to do that.
“I wish the President would apologise, obviously, for the things that he has said and done, but I do regret having said that.”
This incident was just one example of the way in which the children of Presidents are often talked about or made fun of to make a point about their parents.
Barron even had an unlikely defender in Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea who was the target of mockery when she was young too.
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Hillary and Chelsea Clinton on The Graham Norton Show
Chelsea was just 12 years old when her father Bill Clinton was elected, just a year older than Barron was when his father took office in 2017.
While Chelsea, now 40, has been an outspoken opponent of President Trump’s administration, she insisted that Barron is entitled to privacy.
While on The Graham Norton Show in November 2019, the TV chat show host Graham Norton asked Chelsea about her experience of this, noting that at the time her father entered the White House it was seemingly “open season on Chelsea Clinton jokes”.
She said that, even at that young age, she understood that it was insane that adults were ruthlessly making fun of a child, adding: “It was not about me, it was all about them.”
However, she added that she takes it very personally when people attack other Presidents’ children, especially when Democrats attack Barron Trump.
She said: “She said: “I do take it very personally when people attack Sasha and Malia Obama, and even Barron Trump.
“I mean, Barron was 11 when his father was elected, so just a year younger than I was when my father was elected. I was 11 when he announced, 12 when he won.
“And I just find it abhorrent that people who are arguably on the same side of the political spectrum as I am think it’s OK to make whatever point they’re trying to make about his father through making fun of his kid.
Barron Trump walking with his parents US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump
“I mean, I disagree with President Trump on everything, but I would stand on the barricade to defend his son’s right to privacy and his son’s right to have the childhood that I think every kid deserves, whatever their address.”
However, Chelsea does make the distinction between Barron, a minor who has no choice in being associated with his father, and Ivanka Trump, an adult who has chosen to actually work in his administration.
In an interview with The Guardian in 2018, she said: “[Ivanka]’s an adult. She can make choices for herself. I mean, she’s 36. We are responsible for our actions.”