Ivanka Trump: The New Hillary Clinton in the White House? Nearly 100 Days into the Trump Administration, Lets Count the Ways Ivanka Reminds Us of Hillary

By Burleigh, Nina | Newsweek, May 12, 2017 | Go to article overview

Ivanka Trump: The New Hillary Clinton in the White House? Nearly 100 Days into the Trump Administration, Lets Count the Ways Ivanka Reminds Us of Hillary


Burleigh, Nina, Newsweek


Byline: Nina Burleigh

Updated | Ever since Ivanka Trump spoke at the Republican National Convention, people have been confused. Looking cool in one of her trademark sheaths (she would soon tweet on how to "get the look"), the daughter of the notoriously sexist billionaire took the stage on a steamy night in Cleveland and talked about working women and their needs. Unease instantly prickled necks on the convention floor, where applause was polite but restrained. The looks on many faces seemed to say: Did I just hear her say "affordable child care?" Who let a feminazi Democrat in here? Lock her up!

The Who Is Ivanka question has trailed her since the beginning of the Trump saga. Is she a Manhattan Democrat bearing the red-state ideological burden just to support her dad? Is she a secret feminist planning to stymie the worst instincts of the notorious sexists in the White House, a secret environmentalist working to save the world from global warming? Does she have her own other agenda, and if so what is it?

Related: Angela Merkel Throws Subtle German Shade Toward Ivanka Trump

After 100 days of the Trump administration, Ivanka remains a cypher. Sound familiar? She is also a White House power without portfolio, working behind the scenes on any number of issues on any given day, from foreign policy to trade. She is so sure of her own goodness that she is oblivious to ethics challenges. She even started her own foundation, and is soliciting foreign donors.

After 100 days, the answer to Who is Ivanka is clear: Almost everything about her politics and political style is something that we've seen before. In fact, very, very recently.

Let's review her uncanny similarities with Hillary Clinton.

Provides Cover for Sexism. Ivanka is not married to a serial philanderer: You don't have to lock up your daughters when you see Jared Kushner coming. But like Hillary with philandering Bill, Ivanka serves to make her own--to coin a euphemism--feministically challenged presidential relative more palatable to women. And among a certain segment of the female population who might have been off-put by the Billy Bush tape, the premise and presence of Ivanka signaled that her father can't possibly have meant he grabs them literally by the pussy.

White House Power Without Bounds. In the West Wing, Ivanka has quickly become a White House power center. Trump has said his daughter helps him with the women stuff, but her portfolio actually has no limits. In most White Houses, the spouse figures into the management flow chart somewhere, but not until Hillary came along did White House staff have to figure the powerful unelected relative's interests into every issue. Ivanka might not be at that level yet, but there don't seem to be any boundaries to the issues she's dealing with. And she has face time with the president that no one else gets.

Starting on Third Base Thanks to Her Man. Remember when Hillary Rodham Clinton reminded everyone she wasn't standing there by her man baking cookies? She had made it on her own--hence the inclusion of "Rodham," at least until retrograde Arkansans let it be know at the voting booth that they didn't like it. The maiden name retention, though, could never obliterate that she was in the White House, in politics at all, thanks to her marriage. Similarly, Ivanka--who certainly isn't changing her name--has often implied that she earned her business empire and now, political standing, thanks to old-fashioned hard work. She has even built a brand and is writing a book identifying herself with, as she puts it, #womenwhowork.

Helping Poor Women Sell More Baskets. In Germany this week, Ivanka advocated for women's entrepreneurial empowerment worldwide. "The statistics and results prove that when you invest in women and girls, it benefits both developed and developing economies," she said in one interview. "Women are an enormous untapped resource, critical to the growth of all countries. …

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