Ivanka Trump Walking a Tightrope

By Hesse, Monica; Thompson, Krissah | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), February 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Ivanka Trump Walking a Tightrope


Hesse, Monica, Thompson, Krissah, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


WASHINGTON - On Tuesday morning, Ivanka Trump put on a navy turtleneck and heels that appeared to be from her own besieged collection, and accompanied her father to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. "Ivanka is here right now - Hi, Ivanka, President Donald Trump said from a podium, gesturing toward his daughter, who stood on the masking-tape mark laid out for her. She clasped her hands in front of her, smiling and nodding at appropriate intervals, a poised act of filial duty.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, she was being eviscerated. The night before, in response to bomb threats at Jewish community centers nationwide, Ivanka had tweeted out a call for tolerance. Her detractors found great irony in this. "Your father [peddled] hate in the campaign and gave a voice to all these white nationalists to come out, one wrote. "Why r u in all [Donald Trump's] mtgs? wrote another. "We, the People, did not elect you to play any role in WH!

It was a 24-hour whiplash that has come to represent a typical day of Ivanka-in-Washington. The week prior, she'd played an integral role in the Canadian prime minister's visit - but was lambasted for an Oval Office photo with him and her father, where she was the one sitting at the presidential desk. She attended the insidery Alfalfa Dinner in her father's stead - but her silver dress became a meme when someone noted its resemblance to foil blankets worn by refugees that the president was, that very night, trying to block. She made working women her primary cause, only to see Nordstrom drop her clothing brand after a boycott and diminished sales.

"I think at times she's very excited, said one Ivanka friend of several years. "And at times she's very overwhelmed.

Throughout Trump's campaign, Ivanka was perceived by many as a stabilizing force. Those who were turned off by his bombast could take comfort in her moderation. She moved easily in socially liberal circles. She hung out with Chelsea Clinton. She was, gushing profiles suggested, her father's favorite child and trusted adviser.

Then President Trump's administration took a harder-right turn than many expected, from overturning protections for the environment, to forging ahead with plans for a Mexican border wall. Now a new set of challenges arises for the personal brand Ivanka has carefully cultivated, through years as a real estate executive and "Apprentice co-star.

Is she truly as moderate as fans believed? Was she ever as influential? As First Daughter, she has high visibility but no actual duties. Can she navigate official Washington relying on the same graciousness and playful, Everymom Instagram posts that once helped win her widespread, nonpartisan respect?

Or does Ivanka fall off her tightrope and become the first casualty of her family's foray into politics?

Admirers are troubled by criticism of Ivanka. "People may be looking at her and carrying out their disagreement with her father, but the class with which she has conducted herself . . . is going to bode well for her down the line, said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., who served on the presidential transition team with her.

Her response has been to maintain a laser focus on her causes, such as pay equity and making childcare more affordable. "She's pushing a message that she cares about, which is women that work, said her older brother, Eric Trump. "She's been writing about this for years and years and years. She's been talking about it for years.

But some observers think she will have a hard time finding traction in Washington's corridors of influence.

"The tumult and uproar that was generated by so much of what this president did in the first month of office has made it to where her capacity is very much narrowed, said a Republican who has met with her. "She is going to be implicitly damned by some of his policies and it will be very, very hard for her to navigate.

***

In 2013, Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa. …

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