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Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE went to Boston last week to review a hospital’s infant “cuddling” program and was met by protesters.

Let that sink in for a moment.   

The first lady wanted to interact with the doctors and nurses at Boston Medical Center who run a truly laudable program that uses cuddling as part of its greater effort to help infants who are born dependent on drugs or alcohol, and she was protested.

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Many of the protesters were employees of the hospital; some were outsiders. All viscerally oppose President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE and decided that Melania Trump must pay the price for their partisanship and anger.

There was a time when America had a widely accepted, unofficial rule that members of a president’s family should be off limits to partisan and personal attacks. It was always a fine line, but it was generally recognized and respected.

Now, in the “Age of Trump,” that line has been obliterated by those who oppose or openly hate the president and replaced by an attitude that states, “There is no line we will not cross, and there is no place that shall remain private, sacred or above our personal animus, as long as Trump is president.”

To be sure, any honest assessment of presidential history will record that first ladies Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE and Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaAmanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration Scorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media MORE also were victims of vile, twisted and, quite often, inaccurate attacks, some truly disturbing.

But if that same honesty assessment barometer is employed, it will show that the hostility and tactics directed at anyone in the Trump family has been dialed up to frightening and dangerous new levels.

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On a regular basis, various “celebrities” such as Kathy Griffin, Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Bette Midler, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, George Lopez, Snoop Dogg, Johnny Depp, Tom Arnold — well, you get the idea — issue threats or make assassination “jokes” aimed at President Trump, occasionally folding in someone from his family. People regularly heckle Donald Trump Jr. in public. Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Trump extended Secret Service protection for family members in final days in office: report MORE and her children were confronted on a plane and then stalked through the airport terminal. Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerJilani: China 'sending clear message' to Biden officials with sanctions that opposition could lead to 'future pay cut' Would Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE was targeted with credible death threats. A waitress spit on Eric Trump while he was having dinner at a restaurant.  

And lest we forget, the late actor Peter Fonda once tweeted, “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles.” Yes, Fonda said that about a 12-year-old boy. He later apologized but not until after a Hollywood studio with which he was working called the remarks “abhorrent, reckless and dangerous.”

Dangerous, indeed.

It certainly can be argued that Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpCompany appeals rejection of controversial Pebble Mine  Singer Taylor Dayne responds to criticism after Mar-a-Lago performance: 'I try to stay non-political' More voters say pardons for Trump's family would be inappropriate: poll MORE, Ivanka and Eric — like Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and others before them — voluntarily stepped into the political arena and are fair game. They should be fair game — for civilized, honest debate.

Screaming is not dialogue. Stalking, spitting or targeting a young boy are not the actions of those seeking common ground or solutions. It is the behavior of the unhinged.

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Melania Trump said she visited Boston Medical Center with the intention “that today’s visit helps shine a light. ... It is my hope that what we discuss today will encourage others to replicate similar programs with their own communities.” Her visit was tied to her signature cause, “Be Best,” which seeks to improve the physical, emotional and social health of children.

Sadly for the Boston program and infants at risk, her intention failed.

It failed in large part because, unlike Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, first lady Melania Trump does not have the mainstream media in her corner. Many in the media now hint at or openly proclaim themselves to be part of the "resistance" against her husband. 

Consequently, and quite predictably, almost every story about Boston Medical Center’s  “cuddling infants” program chose to “shine a light” on those protesting Melania Trump and her husband.

Maybe those infants dependent upon drugs and alcohol might see that beam of light when the protesters and the media get a president who aligns with their ever-evolving progressive narratives.

In the meantime, back to zero civility — and worse — for anyone in the Trump family.

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.