Ivanka Trump did not, of course, get to choose her father. And as a rule, the children of presidents should be off limits from media scrutiny, or at least have a modicum of privacy away from the harsh glare of the 24/7 world in which celebrities live. But Ivanka is not just any president’s kid. She is the First Daughter of a man whose vileness is without bounds, and her choreographed effort to portray herself as a president whisper whose voice of reason is a foil to Daddy’s ignorance is utterly phony.
By all accounts, Ivanka is an intelligent woman. While she should be grateful for being a white woman of privilege who has been given opportunities very few women not born with platinum spoons in their mouths are afforded, she could have left the nest at any point — whether after she made her first million or hundredth million — if the values she says she holds so close to her ample bosom meant more to her than her Ivanka-branded push-up bras, tummy control pants and thousand-dollar accessorized bling patriotically made in overseas sweat shops.
But those piously mouthed values do not mean more, not by a Chinese copyright let alone a New York minute.
And while I usually am able to eke out at least a modicum of sympathy for even the most unsympathetic of public figures, I cut Ivanka no slack — none whatsoever. This is because she has decided that living in her father’s dark shadow — let alone working down the hall from him in a sumptuous West Wing office newly refurbished (with metallic accents!) in contrast to the pedestrianly beige offices of other aides who are, of course, overwhelmingly men — is more important than acting on, let alone living, the platitudes she mouths.
There are worse cases of nepotism in politics. After all, Caligula tried to make his horse a consul of Rome. But Ivanka’s appointment as Daddy’s top aide is like a Twilight Zone episode on Take Your Daughter To Work Day.
There is a story making the rounds about the sensitive soul lurking beneath Ivanka’s cooly composed surface. I am sure that the fact the story has just gone public has nothing to do with the well-hyped launch this week of her new book Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules For Success, a DIY guide for female empowerment that is a strawberry frappuccino version of Daddy’s bestselling Art of the Deal.
According to the story, the future Drainer of Swamps was working really hard at Trump Tower for a forthcoming presidential debate with She Who Should Be In Jail when an aide rushed into the room and declared the WaPo was about to publish an article saying that he had bragged to the host of Access Hollywood in 2005 about grabbing a woman’s private parts.
As Ivanka joined others waiting to see a video of the open-mike stunner, Daddy claimed the description sure didn’t sound like him, but the video proved him wrong and then some.
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.”
Daddy grudgingly agreed to say he was sorry if anyone was offended. But Ivanka in all her grown-up-ness made the case for a “full-throated apology” (pun not intended). When Daddy remained unyielding, her eyes welled with tears, her face reddened and she hurried out of the room in apparent frustration.
Perhaps the real reason Ivanka fled was so she could tend to her smeared makeup. But what The New York Times and others failed to point out in swallowing whole a story that was fed them by Ivanka’s publicists is that after hurrying out of the room, she came back.
And has come back again and again to a father who never had time for she and her brothers when they were growing up, abused her mother mentally and physically, according to credible accounts, has bragged over the years about the size of his johnson and its many conquests, once remarked that he’d like to bed Ivanka if she wasn’t his daughter, instructs the managers of his resorts to fire or at least hide “ugly” woman employees, and as president already is doing more to disempower women than Phyllis Schlafly, who almost single-handedly stopped passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, did during her entire knuckle-dragging career.
It is impossible to read of Ivanka’s gilded past, let alone browse the anodyne wisdom of Women Who Work, and not conclude that she has stolen shamelessly from Hillary Clinton, who actually believes in empowerment for women, most of whom Ivanka has bupkis in common with because life for her is all about power and money, as well as occasional annoyances with the nanny or maid when they don’t follow orders, and not struggling on the bottom rungs of the career ladder, territory with which she is utterly unfamiliar.
When Ivanka writes
“Pursue your passion! Make sure you, and not others, define success! Architect a life you love in order to fully realize your multidimensional self!”
“As a woman who works, you’re just not making a living. As a woman who works, you choose proactively how to spend your time.”
In Women Who Work, I can’t escape the vision of a harried working mother who rushes home to pop dinner into the microwave and wonders how her multidimensional self is going to survive with a baby on the way, no parental leave policy from an employer who pays her less than some of the men she supervises, and a president who would deny her maternity care and believes having a womb is a pre-existing condition.
None of this would particularly matter if Ivanka was just another pretty face on the red carpet at the Met Gala or was just hanging with Daddy when they arrived back in Washington from yet another weekend enjoying chocolate cake with world leaders at Mar-a-Lago, not someone whose career started at the top of the career ladder because of her association with The Apprentice, Daddy’s reality television show, and has now catapulted into a position of authority in the White House.
Meanwhile, Ivanka’s supposed prowess should send chills down the spine of anyone who gives a fig about empowering women.
Like when she naïvely suggested to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards that the organization Republicans love to hate should split itself in two with a smaller arm providing abortions (a service that does not get federal funding) and a larger arm providing women’s health-care service (which does), but then went deaf and dumb when the GOP’s repeal-and-replace Trumpcare bill cut off all Planned Parenthood funding. Or when Daddy nominated a virulent antiabortionist to the Supreme Court. Or appointed a woman to a high-level position who will be in charge of heading up a program that provides family planning services to the poor and uninsured who believes contraception “doesn’t work” and the idea that it prevents conception is “preposterous.”
While none of this may matter to the women who buy Ivanka’s stuff at Macy’s, I suspect it does to many more women who actually have her number because they star in their own reality show. (Hint: It’s called life.)
It is men Ivanka is best at fooling.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on May 3, 2017, on Kiko’s House, a website featuring commentary by journalist and author, Shaun Mullen. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Mullen