The First Daughter

I have never been able to understand what Ivanka Trump is doing hanging around the white house – sorry, not sorry. She has been mostly mum on the issues she claimed to be so passionate about before the Trump family took office, and what she “advises” the President about is beyond me.

My first instinct was that she was purely ornamental. No matter how you slice it, she’s a very attractive woman, which has proven to be all the qualification one needs to be found in the company of Donald Trump. Because optics are so important to him, and because of his well-publicized superficiality, he likes to surround himself with attractive people, so it’s not unreasonable to think that his daughter would be a good addition to his squad.

At the beginning of this presidency, I tossed around the idea that she might actually be the voice of reason, working behind the scenes to temper her father’s lunacy, like the parent who stays in the basement during the grad party but comes upstairs when things start to get out of hand. She is, after all, an educated, intelligent woman, so maybe she plans to make the most of her time with access to the highest office in the land and work on important legislation, or bring a meaningful cause to the forefront.

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Instead, I’m starting to wonder if anyone working in the White House even knows or cares that she’s around.

What really made me question her function is her reaction to her father’s inexcusable defense of neo-Nazis and white supremacists amid racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last month. Or rather, her lack of reaction.

Of all the Trumps, of all the White House aides, of all Jewish people associated with this presidency, I was convinced that the first daughter would condemn her father’s comments. After all, she converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner in 2009, and the couple is raising their three children as modern Orthodox Jews. To even the uninvolved, the Charlottesville’s marchers’ chants — “Jews will not replace us” — were offensive, so you can imagine what it would sound like to people whose ancestors-in-law survived the Holocaust.

But Ivanka’s reaction has been lukewarm, at best. Best I can tell, she has responded to her father’s remarks in a simple two-part tweet, saying: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.” “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville”

Nice sentiments, sure, but was it enough? She was conspicuously silent after President Dad went off script (for a second time) during a press conference and doubled down on earlier statements that both sides were to blame for the Charlottesville tragedy. Considering the number of influential people who have spoken out against Donald’s remarks, her silence has been particularly telling, I think.

Because think about it: in her shoes, would you not want everyone to know, definitely, in no uncertain terms, that you do not share the same offensive views? That you’re not guilty by association? Regardless of whether it was your high-powered dad on the world stage, or your drunk brother who grabbed the mic at a wedding reception, wouldn’t you want everyone to know you’re not on the same page as the buffoon in the corner spewing hate?

And these are just the expectations of a Catholic. Can you imagine how her silence looks to the Jewish community? In a letter signed by three rabbis and addressed to the Kushners’ Manhattan synagogue, a New York rabbi said, “We are appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and anti-Semitism, and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK and alt-right. While we always avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence.”

The father-child relationship is a tough one to navigate in Ivanka’s case, but I had hoped for more from her. She is a savvy business woman, and a well-spoken member of an inner circle devoid of a well-liked character. She could have chosen a dozen appropriate platforms to work on, from women’s rights to entrepreneurship, and she might have been the most popular Trump of the lot.

I had hoped she would be a moderating force, but I guess it was wishful thinking. The next election cycle can’t come soon enough.