Role of first lady comes into question

Melania Trump's reported decision to delay moving into the White House when her husband takes office could cost New York City millions of dollars in added security and disrupted commerce.

But at least one journalist is cheering the move: In fact, Politico's Jack Shafer argues Melania Trump should go one step further and abdicate the largely ceremonial role of first lady entirely.

Related: Facts about Melania Trump

First Family: Meet Melania Trump
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First Family: Meet Melania Trump

Born Melanija Knavs

Originally Melanija Knavs, Melania Trump was born April 20, 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Born to a car dealer and children's clothing designer, she grew up in a modest home in a community then part of communist Yugoslavia. Melania has a younger sister and older half brother, whom her father had from a previous relationship.

Pictured: Taken in 1977, this image shows Melania, 7, (second from the right) attending a fashion review at the textile company where her mother was employed.

Began modeling at age 16. 

In her early days of modeling, Trump worked in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York in 1996.

Pictured: Melania Knauss during Fred Trump's Funeral at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.

The Clintons attended their wedding.

In 2005, Melania and Donald married in a Palm Beach, Florida ceremony. Shaquille O'Neal, Kelly Ripa, Barbara Walters, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and both President Bill Clinton and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton were in attendance.

Pictured: Donald and Melania sit courtside before a 2001 Toronto Raptors game.

Melania and Donald have a son, Barron.

On March 20, 2006, Melania gave birth to her and Donald's son, Barron William Trump. He is often referred to as "The Little Donald."

Donald holds a replica of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as Melania holds their son Barron in Los Angeles in 2007.

She spoke at the Republican National Convention.

On July 18, Melania addressed delegates on the first day of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The soon-to-be first lady was quickly criticized, though, when it became clear parts of her speech were identical to that of First lady Michelle Obama in 2008.

She cares about bullying.

On November 3, Melania Trump gave her first solo campaign speech for her husband in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, saying she would work to combat bullying as first lady. "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers," she said, noting that kids are often hurt when they are "made to feel less in looks or intelligence."

She said she wants to be "true to herself" as first lady.

On November 11, President-elect Trump and his family -- including Melania -- appeared on 60 Minutes in their first post-election television interview. In the interview, Melania opened up to Lesley Stahl about staying true to herself, meeting Michelle Obama at the White House and how she hopes to raise son, Barron, as they transition to life as the first family.

Melania and Barron will stay in New York for the time being.

On November 20, Trump transition team sources said that Melania and 10-year-old son, Barron, are expected to spend most of their time in New York at least through spring of 2017. The team offered keeping Barron in his Upper West Side private school as reasoning for their staying in New York.


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Shafer describes the office of first spouse as "a rancid barrel of presidential pork" that serves to "endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism." Shafer notes this isn't meant as a slight on Melania Trump in any way, insisting he was equally prepared to issue this broadside against Bill Clinton.

"First spouse" isn't technically an official position, so there's no salary for the role or anything. But past FLOTUSes have maintained a staff of federal employees. In 2010, Michelle Obama's staff of 18 people was paid $1.5 million.

The role has also given presidential wives a platform to push pet projects. That's relatively uncontroversial when it comes to causes like children's education or healthy eating.

Related: Melania Trump through the years

Melania Trump
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Melania Trump
Donald Trump's new bride, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, waves as they leave the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church after their wedding in Palm Beach, Florida, January 22, 2005. REUTERS/Gary I Rothstein
Real estate magnate Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss arrive at the Metropolitan Club in New York where Hollinger International was holding its annual meeting on May 22, 2003. Hollinger publishes newspapers The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, and the Jerusalem Post. REUTERS/Peter Morgan PM/ME
Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar party at Morton's restaurant in West Hollywood, California, February 29, 2004. REUTERS/Ethan Miller REUTERS EM/AS
Melania Knauss at the Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: Model Melania Knauss arrives for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show November 14, 2002 in New York City. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images)
386900 78: Business tycoon Donald Trump with his girlfriend, model Melania Knauss arrive for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards March 25, 2001 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Melania Knauss during The 36th Annual New York Film Festival - 'Celebrity' Opening Night at Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Trump's girlfriend, model Melania Knauss at the world premiere of 'I Dreamed Of Africa' at Sony Theatres Lincoln Square in New York City. 4/18/00 Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect
Melania Knauss and Donald Trump during 2002 VH1 Vogue Fashion Awards - Arrivals at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: Melania Knauss attends the private party hosted by Donald Trump's T Management for legendary supermodel Pat Cleveland at Ian Schrager's Hudson Sky Terrace September 17, 2003 in New York. (Photo By Steven Henry/Getty Images)
Melania Knauss during 'The Apprentice' Finale Party at Trump Tower in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Robin Platzer/FilmMagic)
Melania Knauss during 'Trump World' Magazine Launch Party at Trump World Tower in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)
NEW YORK - APRIL 6: Gala vice-chair Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, arrives at the Martha Graham Dance Company opening night gala at New York City Center on April 6, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Melania Trump during Donald Trump Hosts the Opening Night Reception of 'Veranda: New York's Best at Trump Park Avenue, The Ultimate Showcase Penthouse' at Trump Park Avenue in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Melania Trump arrives at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Annual Hot Pink Party at the Waldorf-Astoria on April 20, 2005 in New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Melania Trump during 'Sweet Charity' Broadway Opening Night - Arrivals at The Al Hirshfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Melania Trump (Photo by Jason Kempin/FilmMagic)
Donald Trump and Melania Trump (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MAY 07: Melania Trump attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala 'Poiret: King Of Fashion' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 04: Melania Trump attends 'The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 25: Melania Trump attends the Police Athletic League's 37th annual Superstar dinner at The Pierre Hotel on June 25, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 24: Melania Trump attends the premiere of 'Sex and the City 2' at Radio City Music Hall on May 24, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Melania Trump arrives at QVC Red Carpet Style Party on February 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Melania Trump attends the Philadelphia Style Magazine holiday issue release party at 10 Arts Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton on December 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Melania Trump attends the 'Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: (L-R) Donald Trump and Melania Trump attend the Operation Smile 10th Anniversary event on May 3, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 20: Melania Trump attends the 'Celebrity Apprentice' Live Finale at American Museum of Natural History on May 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Donald Trump and Melania Trump attend 'The Dark Knight Rises' premiere at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on July 16, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

But more assertive first ladies have also dipped their toes into political causes like civil rights and health care, with mixed results.

In terms of time, media attention and money paid to unelected public servants, the closest analogue to the first lady might be the U.K.'s royal family.

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But despite her reluctance to move to D.C., Melania Trump has shown no signs of bucking the trend. She's already picked out her personal cause for the next four years: stopping cyberbullying.

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