I actually don’t really want to focus on Ivanka Trump, but it is also sort of weird not to, in a way that reflects the grotesque weirdness of our current political moment. I keep thinking, ugh, just ignore her, she’s a self-empowerment facade, a rich kid with smooth PR, a platitudinous ghost-person who is just some barely-earned dignity above any other fake celebrity. Famous for being famous. Before 2016, I doubt I spent more than four total minutes of my life thinking about Ivanka Trump.
But then, this person is a top advisor to the President of the United States. Ignoring her because she’s a political nobody is to ignore the central problem of America at the moment: we’re being run by reality show idiots. Our country has fully empowered our idol worship, celebrity obsession, and anti-intellectual pitchforking. And while Ivanka may be pretty and say nice things, she’s as much to blame as anyone else, and in her own way as much an embodiment of what is happening to us.
There are two Times articles today that highlight that. One is how she is really trying, guys. And it starts out with her anger and sadness over the Access Hollywood tapes (remember that? That guy from those tapes is now the President!).
Inside Trump Tower, the candidate was preparing for a debate when an aide rushed in with news that The Washington Post was about to publish an article saying that Mr. Trump had bragged about grabbing women’s private parts. As Ivanka Trump joined the others waiting to see a video of the episode, her father insisted that the description of his comments did not sound like him.
When the recording finally showed he was wrong, Mr. Trump’s reaction was grudging: He agreed to say he was sorry if anyone was offended. Advisers warned that would not be enough.
Ivanka Trump made an emphatic case for a full-throated apology, according to several people who were present for the crisis discussion that unfolded in Mr. Trump’s 26th-floor office. Raised amid a swirl of tabloid headlines, she had spent her adult life branding herself as her father’s poised, family-focused daughter. She marketed her clothing line with slogans about female empowerment and was finishing a book on the topic. As she spoke, Mr. Trump remained unyielding. His daughter’s eyes welled with tears, her face reddened, and she hurried out in frustration.
“She marketed her clothing lines with slogans about female empowerment” is, in and of itself, a thesis statement for our times, but nevertheless. She certainly seems horrified, but mostly that he isn’t going to offer more than a brusque apology if anyone was somehow offended. It’s also nice to see that he said the description didn’t sound like him, even though anyone who knows him, especially maybe a daughter who has been the object of his public lust for years, would know that the description sounded exactly like him.
But how did this play out? How did his most trusted advisor and beloved child impact him? Well…
“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person or pretended to be someone that I’m not,” Trump said. “I’ve said and done things that I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me know these words don’t reflect who I am–I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
And of course, from there on in, it was “decade-old locker room talk” that didn’t reflect who he was despite a lifetime of him talking and acting exactly like this. It was completely dismissed by the campaign as an aberration in his character, instead of a perfect reflection. And what did Ivanka say, about a week and change later?
My father’s comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive, and I’m glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people.
Now, I obviously don’t expect her to say “he didn’t really want to apologize” or “my father is a sexual nightmare”, but this is typical of our First Family (I often have to remind myself of that title to remember I’m not just writing tabloid copy about some garbage people, but that they are living in the White House). It’s an excuse machine for a doddering and ignorant old man with zero moral compass. It exists to enable a bloated tyrant. Ivanka is no different.
Oh, but she cares! And she is really trying. This paragraph is the perfect summation.
In interviews last week, she said she intended to act as a moderating force in an administration swept into office by nationalist sentiment. Other officials added that she had weighed in on topics including climate, deportation, education and refugee policy.
“Intended to” is, as we’ve talked about, classic Trump. She just gets to say she wants to do something, and that obviates responsibility in a misty cloud of praise and self-actualization. But it is the stuff she’s “weighed in on” that is perfect. Arguably, climate, deportation, education, and refugee policies are where the administration has been at its absolute worst.
Let’s take climate! Times, what else is on the front page?
23 Environmental Rules Rolled Back in Trump’s First 100 Days
Sure, maybe her and Jared convinced Trump not to officially pull out of the Paris Accords, but he is undermining it in every possible way. Not pulling out is cosmetic nonsense, which makes it perfect for Ivanka. And maybe Trump and Sessions originally wanted to shoot immigrants instead of creating massive police forces to deport them, and maybe they wanted to burn down public schools instead of merely appointing Betsy DeVos to essentially do it, and maybe they wanted to bomb refugee camps instead of just ignoring them. But you don’t get credit when what we end up with is at the furthest right-wing end of what we once thought was acceptable. And you certainly shouldn’t be called a “moderating influence”. An umbrella doesn’t moderate the drowining rain; it just makes the holder feel a little better about themselves.
But for me, the apotheosis is when she talked to Planned Parenthood.
But more recently, with congressional Republicans threatening to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood (even though the women’s health organization says it receives no federal funding for abortions), Ms. Trump approached its president, Cecile Richards, to start a broader dialogue. She also had a proposal: Planned Parenthood should split in two, Ms. Trump suggested, with a smaller arm to provide abortions and a larger one devoted to women’s health services.
White House officials said Ms. Trump was trying to find a common-sense solution amid the roar of abortion politics. But Planned Parenthood officials said they thought Ms. Trump’s advice was naïve, failing to understand how central reproductive choice was to the group’s mission. Ms. Richards sharply criticized Ms. Trump for not publicly objecting to the Republican health care bill that failed in March, and Ms. Trump felt stung.
Oh, did you feel stung when your idiotic nonsense plan was rejected? When you were told that you had literally no idea what non-rich women needed or how they lived, no matter how many slogans you put on your expensive clothes? That no matter how placid your smile, it can’t undo the damage done by the ravening of the misogynist far right that you helped empower? That this isn’t fucking branding.
Her response is classic Trump, if said prettier.
Speaking generally, Ms. Trump complained in the interview that many advocacy groups were “so wedded to the headline of the issue that sometimes differing perspectives and new information, when brought to the table, are viewed as an inconvenience because it undermines the thesis.”
Yeah, it’s new information. They never thought about options, or what the options could mean, until you perfumed your way into a meeting. Just like Donald with the Civil War or the roots of terrorism, these cosseted jackals don’t believe anyone has considered an issue until they deign to let it cross their mind. Yeah, lecture Cicile Richards about abortion. I’d ask where you got the nerve, but you clearly got it from being born rich and being praised for being pretty. For meeting the bare minimum of decency.
Jesus, these people.