Did you notice Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s absence last week? By “absence,” I mean “absence from the narrative.” Ivanka and Jared want credit for everything good that happens in Washington, from the House passing a Trumpcare bill to Jared being in charge of the military and Middle East Peace and Everything Else now. But when Donald Trump fired James Comey less than a week ago, Jared and Ivanka were in the wind. From what I’ve read, they were both actually IN Washington, so I have no idea why they faded so thoroughly into the background as Trump grew more and more unhinged and impeachable. Personally, I tend to think that Ivanka has learned the hard way that it’s more difficult for her to “control” her father these days.
Which brings me to this must-read long-read piece in New York Magazine. Caitlyn Flanagan wrote an amazing article called “The People’s Princess: Ivanka Trump is hard at work in Washington, but for whom?”You can read the piece here, it’s one of the better analyses of the complex father-daughter dynamic and why Ivanka is really not a Princess Diana figure. Here are some of the best parts:
Ivanka still believes her father is the bigliest & strongest man ever: It’s not unusual for a 6-year-old child to see her father as perfect, the measure of a man. What is unusual is for those sentiments to withstand adolescence, young adulthood, independence, and the beginning of married and family life. Malia Obama has been seen giving her father the occasional eye roll. Chelsea Clinton looked like the oldest 18-year-old in history when she walked her disgraced parents across the White House lawn to Marine One. Julie Nixon looks like Sylvia Plath compared to Ivanka Trump.
The fundamental truth of Ivanka: What we have in this embattled, increasingly embittered, and endlessly resourceful First Daughter is someone who made a pact with herself long ago that she would never, ever, lose her father’s attention. After [her parents’] divorce, Ivanka made a study of keeping her father fully engaged with her, and now she remains the one woman in the world with whom Donald Trump hasn’t slowly fallen out of love. Up to now, that’s been a deal that has yielded only golden results. Successful careers in modeling, television, construction, hotel management, fashion — all have been the rich rewards of being her father’s favorite child, his favorite person. Only now, by placing herself at the center of his grotesque campaign and presidency, has the cost of this unblemished devotion seemed higher than its potential rewards.
Ivanka’s tightrope: She’s provided an unending hymn of praise to the man who has single-handedly revived and unified even the most far-flung and previously marginalized factions of the feminist left in a galvanizing shared hatred of him. The old tricks — the ravishing smile, the glowing Instagram account, the spot-on television performances — fail to enchant. Manhattan, the city of her birth, voted against her father by a margin of nine to one. Washington, her new home, spurned him at a rate of 23 to one. She has traded a deep reservoir of goodwill (she was respected and even loved in the circles she traveled in before the campaign, from Choate to Penn to the New York of her adulthood) for a daily punishing blast of derision, taunts, and hatred.
Her father “delights” in her: The president doesn’t see his daughter in only sexual terms, of course. He has genuine respect and pride for her intellect and business skill, her smooth ability to mix with people of all social classes at rallies, meetings, and the mansions of the superrich… It’s Ivanka — her thrillingly low voice and her father’s delight in her — who lingers. This is the person he will always listen to; this is the person whose ideas are always based in the sentimental education of her own upbringing.
Bigly words: But the real weirdness is the actual nature of their impenetrable bond, which is too vivid to be marital and too enduring to be erotic, despite his big talk. At her father’s side, Ivanka is a sort of human luxury brand, with her pale makeup and sleek golden hair, her expensive clothes and stiletto heels, her understated jewelry and her stilted, careful way of speaking. Her father stammers away, trying to find the right word and then giving up: “Jared is terrific, he’s … he’s … Jared is terrific!” Daughter pauses, scrolls through her private lexicon, and comes up with a slightly pumped-up version of the right word. She is never “aware” of something; she is “cognizant” of it. Nothing is “unusual”; it is always “unique.” Imagine how impressive this broad command of big-league words would seem to you if you could never manage to locate and deploy the right one yourself. To him, she is a kind of miracle.
This is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read about the Ivanka-Donald bond and why she should always be regarded with suspicion, if not outright hostility. Her life’s work is getting attention from daddy. She chose a husband who would get along with her daddy. She dresses to please her daddy. She works for daddy and she’s his bigliest supporter, surrogate and confidante. While we already knew that Ivanka was not “for the people,” this is good reminder of why she does what she does.
Photos courtesy of Getty.