Peggy Drexler: Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, apparently after pressure from his daughter, Ivanka
For all his offensive remarks about women, he appears to respect and need the support of his daughter, Drexler says
Editor’s Note: Peggy Drexler is the author of “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family” and “Raising Boys Without Men.” She is an assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Divisive GOP frontrunner Donald Trump announced Monday that his campaign has parted ways with divisive campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, amid suggestions that daughter Ivanka Trump made him do it. She’d been pressing for awhile, according to news reports, and the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back may well have been an increase in tensions between Lewandowski and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Some reports suggest Ivanka and her siblings worried that Lewandowski lacked the experience to lead their father through a national campaign – including stepping up fundraising efforts and bolstering Trump’s anemic communications team.
But it’s hard not to wonder whether she and her family were also concerned about Lewandowski’s character, and the influence he has had on how brash, to put it mildly, the candidate was encouraged to be. This was especially problematic in the context of the recent massacre in Orlando – which Trump used as an opportunity to congratulate himself for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” – as well as his campaign’s ongoing racist and misogynistic rhetoric.
How could a strong, successful, pragmatic working mother of three continue to back someone like that, even if he is her father?
And so, campaign insiders say, Trump got an ultimatum. Who will it be, Dad: Him or us?
We can’t know if Donald Trump truly wants his daughter’s approval or if it’s more that he understands how desperately he needs it; that he needs her stumping for him, supporting him, standing next to him on stage.
It’s likely a little of both. And whatever you think of Trump, give him this: In the context of fathers and daughters, his relationship with Ivanka appears to reflect a new and very modern dynamic.
Between Trump and his daughter, there is a clear give and take, a collaborative conversation; there is mutual respect. When she was a child, he was her mentor, she says. Now that she’s an adult, her father confers with her during debates, and the New York Times has described her as “his unofficial campaign spouse.” She is his advisor, empowered and emboldened enough to tell him when he’s wrong. And, perhaps because he was her mentor, he listens, valuing her thoughts enough to acknowledge,and act on them.
This is interesting, given that Trump has not had the most stellar record with women. The litany of offense in this area is long. He has, for example, called certain news reporters “bimbos” and inspired headlines like “Donald Trump Hates Women.” A May report in the New York Times described a long history of mistreatment of women.
Ivanka, meanwhile, is a gracious, poised and successful Ivy League graduate with a top position in the Trump Organization – evidence, she has said, of her father’s commitment to gender equality – and a lifestyle brand of her own. More importantly, perhaps, she is, by all accounts of her family, surprisingly normal.
It wouldn’t be all that remarkable if Ivanka refused to continue to go along with her father’s choice of personnel for the sake of supporting him. The Trump name, after all, is hers, too, and she’s got to protect it.
Trump’s decision to fire Lewandowski may even go a little way toward suggesting that the candidate’s offending views on women have been part of his act, or a runaway train set in motion by a misguided campaign manager.
It’s true that Trump has gotten far by being outspoken, shocking and using schoolyard taunts as political discourse. But if it was political strategy, it’s one that his family, who knows him best, may now be trying to tame. As his primary victories recede and he turns toward the much larger general electorate, the people closest to him in his campaign – his family – may have forced him to confront an inescapable reality:
The “Let Trump be Trump” approach has plateaued; a talking-to from his daughter was the next logical step. How better to remind everyone –the candidate included – that’s he’s human after all?