She’s ‘most powerful Jewish woman in US’ — but brand Ivanka is under threat

First Daughter's influence on climate change and other liberal causes is on the wane

June 08, 2017 05:18

Pity Ivanka Trump for one moment. During her father’s recent Middle East trip she was described by the American news network CNN as “America’s most powerful Jewish woman” — a statement which may have come as a surprise to Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and Facebook boss Sheryl Sandberg.

Barely 10 days later, however, the channel’s political analyst, Chris Cillizza, awarded the First Daughter — who Mr Trump appointed as an unpaid Assistant to the President in March — its “Worst Week in Washington” epithet. Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris climate change agreement, he opined, demonstrated Ms Trump’s “inability to deliver results”.

As part of her attempt to paint herself as the White House’s liberal conscience (a role for which there is precious little competition), Ms Trump has made great play of her concern about climate change. Even before Mr Trump’s inauguration, she engineered a number of media-friendly photo-ops. Former Vice President Al Gore, a long-standing environmentalist, met the president-elect and his daughter at Trump Tower. The pair also met Leonard DiCaprio and the actor presented Ms Trump with a copy of his documentary on global warming, Before The Flood. Over recent weeks, a series of well-placed leaks had Ms Trump placing “intense” pressure on the president to abandon his campaign pledge and stick with the Paris agreement.

All of this, however, proved to no avail. Last week, the president announced that it was the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris who had elected him. In a camera shot at the Rose Garden ceremony was a beaming chief strategist Steve Bannon. Conspicuous by their absence, Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner, were conveniently at home celebrating Shavuot. For all their supposed moderating influence, “Javanka” have been repeatedly outmanoeuvred by Mr Bannon.

On trade, immigration and climate change, it has been his view of what will play best with the president’s political base that has invariably prevailed.

Ms Trump’s supposed other great cause — the status of working women — has fared little better. Her defenders point to moves by the Republican Congress to support paid family leave. Sceptics note the White House’s push to allow firms to deny contraceptive coverage as part of their female employees’ health insurance packages.

The one other victory Ms Trump was keen to claim — an about-turn by Mr Trump on rolling back some of President Obama’s protections for the LGBT community — has elicited little by way of gratitude. When she tweeted her support for LGBT Pride Month last week, The Advocate, a gay magazine, angrily responded: “We’re sick of being used by Ivanka Trump as a prop.”

The reality of Ms Trump’s role is now being brutally exposed: she is either an ineffective fig leaf for her father’s hard-right agenda or — as Scarlett Johansson’s memorable skit on Saturday Night Live charged — she’s complicit in it.

Having so carefully guarded their image, Ms Trump and her husband are now taking a media pounding.

The investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin had zeroed in on Mr Kushner. At the same time, Ms Trump’s business dealings are under scrutiny: the disappearance into police custody of three Chinese labour activists probing alleged abuses at a factory which manufactures products for her clothing label coming at just the moment it was revealed that she had filed a slew of trademark applications in the country.

One thing is for sure: one cause the president’s daughter truly cares about — brand Ivanka — is already looking more than a little tarnished.


June 08, 2017 05:18

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