Stop Giving Ivanka Trump a Pass

Donald Trump has been in the White House almost seven months now and a pattern has emerged. Following his press conference this week in which he supported those responsible for the mayhem in Charlottesville last weekend, the New York Times reported this:

Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, urged him to take a more moderate stance, according to two people familiar with the situation.

As Steph Kight documents in “Oops, dad did it again!” we’ve heard that story before. It is what we were told when Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate accord, when he tweeted about a transgender military ban, when he scuttled a meeting with the Mexican President that Kushner had arranged, and when he signed the Muslim travel ban. Somehow the press always gets notified anonymously that Ivanka and Jared fought the good fight…but were unsuccessful. That led James Fallows to propose this today:

I won’t pretend to be able to divine what goes on behind closed doors with the Trump family. But personally, Ivanka Trump has never made sense to me. I’ve always had the feeling that she is a packaged product, with the human being behind the packaging rarely—if ever—seen in public. In many ways that makes her the polar opposite of her father, who has no capacity for self-control. Ivanka, on the other hand, is so controlled that we never get a glimpse of any kind of authenticity. I don’t usually give much credence to gossipy reporting like this, but it rings very true.

…friends and acquaintances who knew Ivanka Trump before her move into politics said they are not surprised that she has remained publicly in lockstep with her father. “I know her well enough to know her relationship with her father, which is that she will never, ever, go against the grain,” said one former fashion-world friend who has socialized with Ivanka for years but has not spoken to her since she moved to Washington.

Another close friend of the family, who has known Ivanka Trump her entire life, said: “She wanted to be the apple of her father’s eye. There’s no question, she worked hard to be the perfect image her father wanted.”

Frankly, it makes my skin crawl to imagine working hard to be the perfect image Donald Trump wanted in a daughter. If Ivanka were 14-years-old and struggling with that effort, I’d have a ton of sympathy for her. But she’s a grown woman who is raising a family while occupying her own office in the White House. Apparently she is at least partially aware of the havoc her father is wrecking on this country because she “told allies that she wants to be held accountable solely on those issues she is actively working on.” In other words, “don’t come at me with that crazy shit dad is doing!”

Someone needs to be honest with Ivanka and tell her that’s not how this thing works. She can’t simultaneously distance herself from Trump’s lunacy and take credit when and if something positive happens. That’s the kind of thing a privileged white debutant expects, not a White House advisor. People in the latter category serve at the pleasure of the president and their job is to defend what he says/does or get the heck out of dodge.

I agree with Fallows. Ivanka (and Jared) shouldn’t get any more passes for pretending to be the reasonable ones behind the scenes. They either go on record with their own thoughts/opinions, or are assumed to be complicit with what their boss does.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.