By Nikhila Natarajan
Where’s Melania Trump gone?
Welcome to four years of the first ‘First Daughter’ rodeo in US presidential history.
Ivanka Marie Trump, 35, who US President-elect Donald Trump said he would have dated if she were not his daughter, is barely a month away from stepping into the most outsize role any President’s daughter has ever played in America’s political history.
Born rich, grown up rich, married rich and now poised to get wealthier, Ivanka Trump will champion many causes she may never fully grasp or experience as a working class American would — pay equity, parental leave, climate change, medical insurance — and she will do all this from the lectern meant for the First Lady.
Power has already bought legitimacy from left of centre. Hollywood heartthrob and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg have already dialled in. Caprio met Ivanka Trump and handed her a copy of his documentary Before the Flood. Sandberg called and spoke.
top advisor and surrogate, Ivanka Trump sat in on Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then with Argentina’s President, brazenly announcing the arrival of dynasty at America’s most powerful address.
Trump Inc. is worth roughly between $4-5 billion and according to economist Paul Krugman, the family could get a bump up to $10 billion in the Trump term.
The signs are too obvious. Ivanka’s jewellery company promoted a $10,800 gold bangle she wore during a “60 Minutes” interview alongside Donald Trump, soon apologised on being found out and shot the “junior level” messenger who goofed.
This in-your-face capitalist swagger is not new and not going away. “Did I have an edge, getting started in business?” No question. But get over it. And read on,” she herds starry eyed readers of her first self help book — ‘The Trump Card.’
As questions swirl about the unabashed conflict of interest, Trump’s other address on Pennsylvania Avenue also has the Ivanka-Donald imprint. Both own the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue jointly (with a third family member) while the lease clearly states that no government official should be involved and that includes not just the lease, but ownership.
Elsewhere in the Trump household of blondes, Melania Trump has withdrawn after her misadventure in public speaking; Ivanka Trump is reportedly searching for a chief of staff.
When Trump was close to stitching up his nomination, Ivanka launched a promo for her new book ‘Women Who Work’ due soon after Michelle Obama clears out of the White House. When Trump won the nomination, Ivanka took the stage dressed in the palest pink and smothered a swooning audience with sugar coated, teleprompter fed scoops of “My Daddy” stories, she is Trump’s armour when he meets world leaders and moderates, she takes the hit for her dad from left wing elites and crushes it under her pointy stilletoes, if she disagrees with her father, she keeps that behind closed doors; she is most potent soft power just one step behind the new leader of the world’s largest economy. What Huma Abedin would have been to Hillary Clinton, Ivanka Trump is to Donald Trump — an indispensable external hard drive.
Ivanka Trump, 35, is Donald Trump’s clear favourite. A close second is her husband Jared Kushner, also 35, who became Trump’s de-facto manager of a chaotic and messy campaign, liasiing with Henry Kissinger, Paul Ryan, Rupert Murdoch and ousted Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Kushner was instrumental in selecting Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate.
Like Bill Clinton may have been packed off to Israel if Clinton had won, the same honours may be bestowed upon Trump’s son in law, they are saying.
For the merely rich hoping to be super rich, Ivanka is practice dummy and poster child rolled into one — It’s not enough to wear that pale pink dress, it must go with paler pink lipstick; business class travel is no good, get a life and hire that private jet. Ivanka is the walking talking Barbie doll for undecided Americans hit by Clinton-fatigue who may yet be persuaded that Trump is neither right nor left but just a rebel like you.
It’s no secret that Chelsea Clinton and husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are great buddies with Ivanka and Jared. Asked about the one thing she likes about Trump, Hillary Clinton pointed to Trump’s children and she did not say it but meant Ivanka.
There’s more than friendship that defines the Chelsea-Ivanka bond and therefore Ivanka’s appeal to centrists in America, both young and old. Both Ivanka and Chelsea are in their mid 30s, both sets of parents have businesses mired in conflicts of interest, both are married to men whose daddies have been jailed at least once, both are filthy rich and spend their summers in the Hamptons.
Pouncing on the Donald win, Ivanka has gone all in to promote herself as the American wife, mother and entrepreneur who has suffered much because she had it all.
Ivanka smiles at us from spotless white backgrounds in soft focus photographed by ad filmmakers who charge an arm and a leg, the rugs are spotless, everyone’s hair in place, including the childrens’ who are under five years old. Ivanka Trump hopes we buy the story that women who work may be people in too-tall heels and a net worth of $200 million and a Wharton education handed down as a birthright.
History is replete with examples of rich people with grand ideas. These folks often combine intelligence with pragmatism and help the world’s suffering millions, sometimes their moonshot could be the next self help book promoted via a YouTube channel telling other entitled kids how to choose that go-to dress for date night.
Or maybe this timely banana bread tip for poodle toting ladies of Manhattan’s Upper East Side — it has 10,000 likes in 10 days: “Don’t cut in 1/2 a recipe’s suggested amount of sugar when baking banana bread for your son’s bake sale. I did,and the result is not pretty!”
The hot new small talk on Ivanka’s channel — five tips to stay in the game when your spouse is transferred, how to resign without burning bridges and five networking tips for landing a new job — are all unlikely to be ever tested by the brand ambassador for #womenwhowork.
Just this September, Ivanka Trump showed that her expressionless exterior cracks under pressure from the toiling masses — she bristled when a Cosmopolitan reporter put her claims of feminism to test.
“I think she is more dangerous because she is more polished,” says Shannon Coulter a tech and media marketing who is leading the Ivanka boycott #GrabYourWallet.
With the President-elect tapping businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion for education secretary, Ivanka Trump has started prowling around New York’s school campuses too. Public schooling braces for an upheaval by the gazillionaires in Trump’s cabinet who grew up with silver spoons, private schooling and often ended up with alarming consistency in Wharton Business School.
All other things being equal, the poorer have less chance of making it to the top than their rich, privately educated peers. Ivanka’s set-piece photographs on Twitter on a Harlem school visit interspersed with exhortations to buy gold accessories will change precious little for the “forgotten man” who Trump claims to protect.
— Ivanka Trump HQ (@IvankaTrumpHQ) November 23, 2016
Yet, Ivanka’s popularity in liberal elite circles is a perfect foil for Donald Trump. Ivanka, the functional First Lady is aggressively tailoring the media buzz for her new book #womenwhowork — via which she hopes to somehow bump off the halo around Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller ‘Lean In’.
On her next offering, Ivanka illuminates us: “Women Who Work will equip you with the best skills I’ve learned from some of the amazing people I’ve met, on subjects such as identifying opportunities, shifting careers smoothly, negotiating, leading teams, starting companies, managing work and family, and helping change the system to make it better for women — now and in the future. I hope it will inspire you to redefine success and architect a life that honours your individual passions and priorities in a way only you can.
Our grandmothers fought for the right to work. Our mothers fought for the choice to be in an office or stay at home. Our generation is the first to fully embrace and celebrate the fact our lives are multidimensional. Thanks to the women who came before us and paved the way, we can create the lives we want to lead — which looks different for each of us.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to build my career around my passions, from real estate to fashion. But my professional titles only begin to describe who I am and what I value. I’m an executive and an entrepreneur, but I’m also — and just as importantly — a wife, mother, daughter and friend. To me, ‘work’ encompasses my efforts to succeed in all of these areas.”
For those in America who balk when girls dress in blue, Ivanka’s their heroine — tall, blonde and impossibly well coiffed, her mansions kept spotless by women who work and wear clogs because they must push the baby Kushner stroller after the mother’s photo op is done.
Brace for four years of Ivanka — the career Barbie.
The views expressed above belong to the author.