Who Is Ivanka Trump Kidding with This Shameless Publicity Blitz?
I hope you have taken some time this week to quietly thank Ivanka Trump for her tireless service and reflect on how just how much the mom, daughter, wife, entrepreneur, and White House employee is sacrificing for the good of America.
We are, you see, coming to the end of Workforce Development Week in the White House—an initiative that could also be described as Quick, Deflect Attention From ComeyGate and Improve Ivanka’s Image Week.
Ivanka has been keeping something of a low profile recently but that seems to have come to an end. The past week has seen her firmly back in the spotlight in what is, by all appearances, a calculated PR initiative to rehabilitate her faltering brand.
Ivanka Trump’s personal brand, it should be said, is something of a work of art. It’s built on a difficult balancing act – there’s something there to appeal to everyone. Liberals are able to delude themselves that she’s secretly on their side (she sounds like a Democrat!) while Trump’s diehards believe she’s a devoted daughter and just like her dad. Ivanka is able to stand for everything because, at her core, she stands for nothing. She’s all illusion: just scented smoke and mirrors.
Recently, however, that illusion has looked dangerously like it’s at risk of finally being shattered. Liberals have long wanted to give Ivanka the benefit of the doubt but opinion has slowly started to shift. A turning point was March, when Saturday Night Live labelled Ivanka “complicit” in a spoof perfume commercial. Things went downhill from there: in April Ivanka was booed in Berlin and in May she faced ridicule for her ridiculous new book. Then, in June, the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreements struck a serious blow to the idea that Ivanka is a moderating influence on him.
Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr don’t give a damn what their dad’s critics think of them. Indeed, Eric recently told Fox News that he doesn’t even consider Democrats to be people. Ivanka, on the other hand, does care; her entire brand is built on being an aspirational Everywoman. Indeed, she graced the cover of US Weekly last week with the headline “Why I Disagree with My Dad” – a clear ploy to try and score some much-needed points with liberals.
It’s unlikely that Trump disagreed with his daughter about her decision to do the US Weekly cover. The Trump Administration is acutely aware that it benefits from playing Ivanka as the Universally Appealing Moderating Influence. Which is why the entire White House appears to have been roped into supporting Ivanka on her Remember-I’m-a-Saint comeback tour. It was made very clear throughout Workforce Development Week that, without Ivanka, the workforce would have a very hard time developing.
On Tuesday, for example, a press briefing about the initiative by Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta was filled with praise for Ivanka. Acosta stated: “I especially want to thank the work that’s been done by Ivanka Trump … Her leadership on this issue has been invaluable.” Her name was mentioned six times in around 20 minutes in that briefing just so no one had a chance to forget just how invaluable her leadership has been.
Ivanka’s White House appearances this week were meant to demonstrate her hardworking businesswoman side. But, as mentioned, her brand is a careful balancing act and she complemented this with two interviews on Fox & Friends aimed at showing her more vulnerable side: the quiet suffering of Saint Ivanka.
On her Monday interview, she was clutching her pearls as she told America about the “viciousness” she had been experiencing. “It’s hard, and there is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting ... I was a little bit blindsided on a personal level.”
Of course, Ivanka was quick to point out that she wasn’t letting the horrible personal attacks against her family distract her from making great America. “I’m trying to keep my head down, not listen to the noise and just work really hard to make a positive impact on the lives of many people,” she declared.
While, Ivanka’s damsel in distress act may have ingratiated her further into Fox & Friends’s demographic it did not do her any favours with liberals and may have dealt another blow to her brand. There was immediately a backlash as the liberal media pointed out that Trump’s campaign and presidency have raised levels of viciousness to new levels. Even CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who rushed to defend Ivanka when she was booed in Germany, called her comments about viciousness “10 words that just blew up Ivanka’s reintroduction tour.”
I don’t know that Ivanka’s reintroduction tour is quite over, however. Indeed, I’d be willing to bet that the liberal media is going to continue to give Ivanka the benefit of the doubt, even as evidence mounts up that she doesn’t deserve it. I’ve noted before that I think Ivanka benefits hugely from “pretty privilege.” If she wasn’t so conventionally attractive then I’m fairly certain she’d have been vilified by the press a long time ago; typecast as a meddling woman rather than a moderating influence.
I don’t think this is called out as much as it should be: perhaps because straight male commentators don’t want to think their Serious Political Analysis is being influenced by a woman’s pretty face or because liberal women think it’s bad feminism to focus too much on Ivanka’s looks.
But it would be disingenuous to say that Ivanka doesn’t use how she looks in order to shape how people see her. Indeed, shortly after her “viciousness” comments started to gain a vicious backlash Ivanka was on Instagram, blowing one of her trademark air kisses, to the internet. All long blonde hair and seductive, airy promises.