The international project of flattering Ivanka Trump

Amy Davidson in the New Yorker looks at the abject process of paying homage to Princess Ivanka.

The international project of flattering Ivanka Trump—which some of the world’s most notable women, from Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, to Queen Máxima, of the Netherlands, engaged in at a panel discussion during the W20 conference, in Berlin, this week—does not always run smoothly. There was, first, the achingly obvious oddity of deciding that Trump, whose experience on the public stage largely consists of marketing her clothing and jewelry lines, and her efforts to get her father, Donald Trump, elected, was qualified to sit between Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada. That was quickly followed by the dispiriting thought that Trump might actually have as much power over people’s lives as the other women, through the influence that she supposedly wields over her father. Why else would the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, have co-authored an op-ed in the Financial Times with her, on the importance of promoting female entrepreneurship? Their insights include this: “mentorship opportunities and access to networks bring learning opportunities and connections to capital and markets.”

Ooh, you don’t say. Thank fuck we have Ivanka to explain us that.

At some point during her Berlin sojourn, Trump spoke to Mike Allen, the political journalist. Allen ran an item on Axios with the headline “Ivanka Trump’s new fund for female entrepreneurs,” illustrated with a photograph of Trump grazing her fingers on one of the slabs that make up Berlin’s Holocaust memorial. “Ivanka Trump told me yesterday from Berlin that she has begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe,” Allen wrote.

It sounded like a very big deal, until people started asking questions.

What about conflicts? Would this be a for-profit operation or a shakedown one? In a few hours, it became clear that it was neither of those—because “Ivanka Trump’s new fund” was a complete misnomer. This would be a World Bank project, as spokesmen for the White House and the bank emphasized. Trump would not be involved in raising money, managing it, or deciding how it would be spent. But the World Bank wanted everyone to know that it was very, very grateful to Ivanka for promoting the fund, or “facility,” as it would be called. It was kind of her idea.

Why are any journalists confused about this? She’s like her father – she’s a marketer. That’s all. She’s not a genius of policy or global empowerment of women – she’s a fashion marketer.

But maybe the make-believe about Ivanka coming up with world-changing ideas is harmless, if it means that her father will look kindly on the World Bank—although a report, this week, in the Washington Post about the conditions in a Chinese factory run by the contractor who makes her brand’s clothes (extremely low wages and long hours) does not quite fit into the picture.

I read that report in the Post. It’s grim. Funny how Ivanka’s not empowering those women.

There was that panel in Berlin…

“You’re the ‘First Daughter’ of the United States,” [Miriam Meckel] said to Trump. “And you’re also an assistant to the U.S. President. As a part of the audience, especially the German audience, is not that familiar with the concept of a First Daughter, I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and whom are you representing: Your father, as the President of the United States; the American people; or your business?”

“Well, certainly not the latter,” Trump said, smiling. “I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well, as it is quite new to me. It has been a little under a hundred days, but it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.” She continued to speak about how good the trip to Berlin was turning out to be for her, as a learning experience, and then moved on to her real job, which has always been marketing Donald J. Trump. “I’m very, very proud of my father’s advocacy, long before he came into the Presidency, but during the campaign, including in the primaries. He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of a duelling—”

“You hear the reaction from the audience,” Meckel interrupted. According to press reports, the sound from the crowd was somewhere between a gasp, a boo, and a hiss. Meckel asked Trump to comment on “some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed” and how those might raise doubts about his commitment to empowering women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” Trump said, but added that her own experience, and that of women who worked for him, demonstrated otherwise.

I wish someone had insisted that she explain herself at that point. It’s not just “the criticism from the media” – it’s that tape. It’s that tape that we’ve all listened to, that tape that Trump dismissed brutally as “locker room talk” (as if that makes it just fine), that tape on which he brags about being able to grab women by the pussy. It’s disgusting that she skirted around that with “I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media.”

When asked, more specifically, how she advised him, she said, “It’s been an ongoing discussion I’ve had with my father most of my adult life, and we’re very aligned in many, many areas. And that’s why he’s encouraged me to fully lean into this opportunity and come into the White House and be by his side.” The implication was that nepotism was one of her father’s virtues, and proof of his good character.

Exactly. That “he’s encouraged me to fully lean into this opportunity” is revolting. Melania’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail and a blogger also cited her “opportunities” – to make huge amounts of money because her husband is president. These people are sleazy all the way down.

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