Okay, I’m a daughter, too, and a piece of me sympathizes with Trump. She’s not responsible for her father’s behavior — he is. Loyalty to family is a virtue. And if there is more than a bit of see-no-evil in Trump’s assessment of her father’s accusers — “he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it,” she gamely offered — it is not easy for any of us to accept, no less publicly denounce, the flaws of relatives we did not choose. How, really, is she supposed to answer these questions?
Not like this: “I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters,” Trump told Alexander, her anger clearly simmering beneath a calm smile. Well, no, it’s not. Other daughters’ fathers aren’t the president of the United States. Other daughters’ fathers haven’t been so credibly, repeatedly accused. And other daughters in this excruciatingly uncomfortable position aren’t demanding to have it both ways: simultaneously possessing the immunity of the loyal child and wielding the power of the senior White House aide.
If Alexander’s query was a “pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter,” it seems like a rather reasonable one to ask a daughter with the title of assistant to the president. Especially one whose specific, self-assigned portfolio is promoting the interests of women and girls.
If Trump didn’t want to be asked questions like this, she didn’t have to take the job. She didn’t have to open the door to questions like this with her tweet last month cheering on Oprah Winfrey: “Let’s all come together, women & men, & say #TIMESUP.”
This is the chronic, insoluble problem posed by the Trump children. They want the assorted benefits that go with being a Trump without the accountability or other downside.
Look, Ivanka Trump made her choice. She could have — should have — stayed in New York and gone about her business. But she decided to join the administration, becoming, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, a staffer distinguished for being distinctly unqualified, resolutely oblivious to that lack of preparedness and insulated, by virtue of family ties, from ordinary consequences.
Her interview with Alexander came while she was on an official, taxpayer-funded trip to South Korea for the Olympics. She briefed the South Korean president on the new sanctions imposed on North Korea. Is she a daughter or a government official?
When questioned about Kushner’s security-clearance limbo in his news conference Friday with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, President Trump suggested that we should all be thankful for the services of his daughter and son-in-law, mentioning twice in the course of a single answer that they get “paid zero.” Of course, working for free is the ultimate sacrifice in the Trump universe.
“She gave up a very good and very strong, solid big business in order to come to Washington, because she wanted to help families and she wanted to help women,” Trump said. Ivanka Trump, he added, ignored his warnings that “Washington’s a mean place.”
She didn’t heed that advice, so there’s no reason to expect she’ll listen to this, either, but here goes. Ivanka, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the West Wing.