Facing mounting criticism for not speaking out against some of the more conservative policies of her father’s presidency, Ivanka Trump appears to be on a bit of a public image overhaul. Which, until this morning, was going great.
Then she went on “Fox & Friends” this morning and messed it all up.
Asked whether the job – she is a White House adviser – is harder than she thought, Ivanka responded this way:
“It is hard. There’s a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience.”
Those 10 words – “there’s a level of viciousness that I was not expecting” – will drown out everything else Ivanka said in that interview (or anything else she does today.)
The problem with that statement, of course, is that it seems willfully blind to the fact that her father, aka the president of the United States, ran one of the most vicious campaigns for president in history and has, so far at least, been a president willing to call names and attack whenever possible. (Think of recent weeks in which he has slammed former FBI Director James Comey as both a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”)
That willful blindness gets to the broader critique of Ivanka Trump’s time in the White House. She often appears to be operating in a totally different political world than most people who are closely watching this White House. In her world, her father is getting things done on the regular and all of the negative stuff written about him is produced by haters and lacks even the patina of truth.
I’ve written in defense of Ivanka before, noting that she is, first and foremost, a daughter, not an employee. Upon further consideration, that was wrong since, as roughly 1 billion people noted to me on Twitter, she is a full-time White House employee – meaning that, ultimately she works for the country. (Nota bene: I still don’t think hissing at Ivanka during a speech is the right way to constructively criticize her role in her father’s administration.)
Ivanka, in truth, is a victim of expectations – specifically that she was:
- A moderate voice among a more conservative group in the White House
- Someone who was willing to voice her opinions when they differed from her father’s
- Someone uniquely able to influence her father’s views.
The problem for Ivanka is that she was the one who created those expectations. Repeatedly during the campaign, she noted how she was a voice unafraid to stand up to her father – a habit she developed as a child, according to this Town & Country magazine profile from October 2016.
Things haven’t played out that way. Ivanka was the leading voice in her father’s administration to keep the US in the Paris climate accords. He pulled the country out. While her allies insist that she has had a major behind the scenes influence on her dad, the “Well you should have seen what he wanted to do” argument is always a tough sell.
And now, this. A complaint about how politics is really nasty and how people can be so mean. It’s tone-deaf, which is something Ivanka Trump is, almost always, not.
She’ll be out front a lot this week as the Trump White House pushes workforce development and apprenticeship, an issue she has championed along with paid parental leave. Ivanka may well find a way by the end of the week to reclaim her footing. But she made a big misstep this morning.