Commentary

Edifice Wrecks: The Single-Minded Determination Of Ivanka Trump

Last week, I’d just seen the news that Ivanka Trump had given birth to her third child, a baby boy named Theodore James Kushner, on Easter day. Ivanka released a photo, looking like her very attractive, not overly made-up or coiffed self, in bed in a hospital gown, holding a swaddled, adorable newborn.

But the news item did strike me as slightly odd — almost seeming like an ad, or perhaps a statement that she was part of a new American Royal family.

In the meantime, I made a snarky joke in a Facebook post that, in the midst of this political race, I found it odd that she would name the kid “Ted.” And then I called him “Cryin’ Ted.”

Ha ha? Not so much.

The post soon filled with vicious comments, mostly about how much Ivanka’s father wants to “date” her. In fairness, “he started it!” Many years ago on “The View,” while promoting a new season of “The Apprentice,” the Donald famously said, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, and I weren’t happily married, perhaps I’d date her.”

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It caused a lot of outrage, but it’s not as if he ever walked the statement back. Candidate Trump repeated the exact same line as recently as this fall, in the same Rolling Stone interview in which he got in trouble for calling Carly Fiorina unattractive. (“Who’d ever vote for that?")

Perhaps he thinks that calling a woman someone he’d like to “date” is the highest honor he can convey.

His go-to line is still “Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!”

The contradictions add up. But I maintain that inside he’s still that 14-year-old smartmouth, just about to be shipped off to military school. And he hasn’t reprogrammed that part of his brain that allows him to rate, and attack, women.

But he has worked out a way to make it work for him on the campaign trail. If he treats female journalists badly, getting truculent the way he did with Megyn Kelly, it’s because they are the elite, professional women who do not appeal to his base. His base supports fidelity to ex-cop family men like Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a theme being sustained brilliantly in the hullabaloo around the Michelle Fields lawsuit. In the Trump camp, Fields is just another single dame who was too P.C. and pushy, while Lewandowski has “a beautiful wife and children,” upholding a form of Trump family values.

A day later, in an interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews, Trump said he’d “punish” women who get abortions. He later retracted that. But as a pattern of behavior, conscious or not, it becomes clear that being punitive to women who stand up to him has been part of the undercurrent of his campaign.

But back to my FB post. This campaign season has been insane and dispiriting for everyone, making words like “civility” seems awfully quaint. But the anti-Trumpsters, with whom I would normally side, were getting really foul, going over the incest line, in their comments.

It hit me that if I really considered myself a feminist/humanist, I had to take the post down, and extend a certain amount of this civility to Ivanka. She seems smart, hardworking and uber-capable, and it's not her fault (though it is her misfortune) that her father speaks publicly about her in sexual terms.

Still, given all that, I had a hard time understanding how she stands approvingly by her father’s side as he behaves like Trump. At the very tamest, he’s used the pregnancy card as a crowd-pleaser and vote-generator at rallies on two occasions. In South Carolina and Iowa, he rubbed Ivanka’s belly and wished that she’d have the baby right there, in a local hospital. The crowds went wild. Who doesn’t love a very pregnant woman?

Imagine if Hillary ever did that? She’d get thrown off the face of the earth as a hillbilly, enmeshing her daughter in a creepy family-pandering plan. (Chelsea is due some time this summer.)

Still, there’s no question that Ivanka deserves civility — and here, I find myself agreeing with Ted Cruz that wives and children should be off-limits. 

But is it a different case when adult children are part and parcel of the campaign — as opposed to, say, Patti Davis and Ron Reagan, who openly disagreed with their dad’s politics?

Trump often gets complimented on his three eldest kids (whose mother is first wife Ivana) Don, Ivanka, and Eric, who not only accompany him on the trail but also work for the Trump Organization.

Even son Don admitted that his father favors Ivanka, and that she is the big dog in running the business. As such, she is also called on to defend her dad from charges of sexism. “Well, I think a lot of the sensationalism around this was orchestrated — largely by the media,” she has said, adding that her father “is not gender-specific in his criticism of people.”

Obviously, Ivanka knows how to stay on-brand. She’s not thinking of her pop’s politics, she’s got her eye on global domination, and maintaining the business.  

And she’s always been amazingly consistent in that way. Back in 2007, when she was 25, in defending all the superlatives her dad was known to use even then, she told the writer Lisa DePaulo in a GQ interview, “But we do believe everything’s the Best and the Greatest and the Tallest and the Biggest.“

“He has to believe every building he’s doing is the best building he’s ever done,” she said. “That’s important to us. Like, that’s our vision as a company… And that’s how we look at, you know, all the stuff we do.”

Even then, she made it clear that she is self-aware. “I’ve known since I was born what I wanted to do," she told GQ. “I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. Ever. Not even as a little kid. I feel like somehow I’m genetically programmed.“

Just as the Donald was raised trailing his father Fred on weekends to the family building sites —  sometimes even collecting rents —  he did the same with his kids.

Interestingly, Ivanka married Jared Kushner, who had a very similar upbringing in his own family's real estate business. He had to take over the reins of the Kushner organization when he was just out of law school, because his father, Charles, was sentenced to prison for tax evasion and witness tampering. (The prosecutor on the case? Chris Christie.) His father was in the clink for 17 months — and now they work in side-by-side offices in the glass tower they own that’s up the street from his father-in-law’s gilded home.

So the kids Ivanka and Jared are raising will have double the loyal, stand-by-your-real-estate-man DNA.

Perhaps Donald’s responses on nukes and abortion are as disordered, chaotic, scary, and inconsistent as they are because governing was never his main intention in his presidential bid.  It was all about growing the brand/going to the next level.

Ivanka has shown she’ll do anything to keep that brand intact. But perhaps, just as with the casinos, her dad has miscalculated. His art-of-the-deal tricks don’t translate to governing. And at this point, maybe he’s breaking down, beginning to go off-brand.

Whatever happens, I’m pretty certain Ivanka is prepared to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding. Whether she’s treated civilly or not, it’s just business.

17 comments about "Edifice Wrecks: The Single-Minded Determination Of Ivanka Trump".
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  1. Josh Dreller from 4C, March 31, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

    Nice objective piece on advertising

  2. Claudia Caplan from MDC Partners, March 31, 2016 at 5:11 p.m.

    Funny how it can also turn out so differently.  I was reminded of another kid who trailed after his dad to pick rents.  Little Bobby Durst.  So I guess it could be a lot worse.

  3. Anglyn Hays from Free Lance Writer Hire Me!, March 31, 2016 at 5:21 p.m.

    Spot on, and just the right level of cynicism.  Trump is a brand more than a candidate, but that also says something about what a candidate is for the most part.  The slow cranking apart of the Trump brand is the wind down of the Republican Party as we know it.  Conservativism will surivive, the party won't.  It's ok to feel a little nostalgia.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 31, 2016 at 5:45 p.m.

    Drumpf also said Ivanka does everything he tells her. And as history tells us, women can be more ruthless than men. Isabella of Spain, one of the most murdeous of all, comes to mind first. She is an attractive, intelligent, very wealthy and well positioned woman who has a very dark heart vailed in very fine lace made for 65 cents an hour by the Chinese indentured servants who work for her companies. She has chosen her future.

  5. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, March 31, 2016 at 7:07 p.m.

    As to why Ivanka stands by her father, I'm reminded of a fictional example: From All In The Family, when Gloria and Mike are deciding who would be guardian of their child in case something should happen, Gloria pushes hard for Archie, which Mike simply cannot understand. All of their other friends, while politically compatible, have flaws which relegate them to second place. The reason according to Gloria, is that he's my father, and he raised me, and I turned out ok.

    And that's reason enough to stand by your father. Even when you know deep in your heart what a jerk he can be.

    (lest anyone read anything else into this, that is not how I feel about my father).

  6. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC, March 31, 2016 at 7:33 p.m.

    Oh,sister, where is William Shakespeare when we really need him to make sense of this mess? Or maybe he already has, if you ignore the gender specifics. These people are repulsive and dangerous to our democracy, and our morality. Money uber alles.

  7. Barbara Lippert from mediapost.com, March 31, 2016 at 9:04 p.m.

    It's true. The father loyalty is very deep. She looked up to him her whole life. 

  8. Ruth Thomas from Second helping, March 31, 2016 at 10:31 p.m.

    I am conflicted....I understand loving your father who has always been good to you....but she is a very smart woman who must see how awful he is to others....that would certainly color an honest person's opinion....she needn't attack him...but she, in good conscience, shouldn't promote him....I have lost all respect for her

  9. Jim English from The Met Museum, March 31, 2016 at 11:08 p.m.

    Was thinking of your comments on the "dad-vertising" trend.  Loving dads "cheer up ourselves about our families."  I'm afraid that cannot be applied to Trump and his daughter whose comments are totally inappropriate.  As usual.

  10. Betsy Busch from ODC , March 31, 2016 at 11:32 p.m.

    Excellent article. I agree that the families of politicians should be kept out of the fray but I'm filled with dismay that Ivanka can stand calmly by, admiring a man who would gladly deprive women, gay people, and many minorities,rights that everyone deserves. Father or not, it's staggering to me and since she's in a position to take over the reins at some point down the road, the fact that "it's only business" puts me in mind of the Corleones. I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way.

  11. Victoria Rowan from Ideasmyth.com, April 1, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    Hear hear for civility & the great feminist/humanist Barbara Lippert!

  12. Melanie Howard from self employed, April 1, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    Great column. I always felt the Trump campaign was about publicity and financial gain, but now I think his tremendous ego has gotten the better of him and he's seeking world domination. Ivanka, however, still has her eyes on the prize - more branding and more money.

  13. Bruce Dundore from Lazaroff/Dundore, April 1, 2016 at 5:20 p.m.

    Great piece. Didn't know that about Kushner. I can't but think he's just doing this to show us how crazy messed up we are as a country.

  14. Mark DiMassimo from DiMassimo Goldstein, April 1, 2016 at 7:01 p.m.

    Another great one, Barbara! I'm right there with you. Ivanka is lending her father some of the class he lacks and therefore can't be considered merely a victim or innocent bystander. That said, her relative reserve and class do deserve some restraint and consideration. Yes, she does stand by her dad. Yes, she does put the business first. But, no, she has not always been just a dutiful, logo-thumping, business-building machine. I remember a time, not so long ago, around the time she got married, when she seemed to be attempting to put some distance between herself and her outrageous Dad. I remember her saying, "My Dad is not a normal person." She went on to say that unlike her father that she really was a normal person, wanted to live a relatively normal life, and wanted to be judged by normal standards. I was disappointed to see her introduce her father as a candidate for the Presidency. It made me feel like the Borg (evil empire in Star Trek the Next Generation) won, that it reabsorbed the differentiated individual back into the black cube of death. I grieved a bit for the potential Ivanka I thought I saw revealed in that interview. Family business can be like that.

  15. Dyann Espinosa from IntraStasis replied, April 4, 2016 at 8:59 a.m.

    Taking a jaundiced view of the Donald's kids fealty to their father, I would think that money enters the equation at some point. If they support the Trump matted and tattered flying carpet enterprise there may be some funds left over for them at the end of his "reign" here on earth. 

  16. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, April 6, 2016 at 3:14 p.m.

    I find myself unable to judge people. Experience doesn't matter in that regard. A bunch of years ago at a Jewish charity dinner, I heard the elder Kushner give a 10-minute speech and then Governor McGreevey talked for 20 more. I thought they were brilliant and had great, amazing, huge futures. Kushner went to jail; McGreevey was run out of office, and the Jewish charity closed its doors last year after the management mishandled 100 million dollars of endowments and donations.

  17. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 6, 2016 at 11 p.m.

    Ivanka Lucretia Borgia Drumpf.

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