Politics & Policy

Ivanka Learns You Can’t Out-Left the Left

Ivanka Trump at the Republican convention in July (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)
Any compromises made will never be ‘good’ enough.

Ivanka Trump, the gorgeous mother of three who forever browses the periphery of the Trump campaign, is used to getting positive press. In February, she graced the cover of Town & Country next to a breathless headline: “Vote Ivanka! The Trump in Charge of a Growing American Dynasty.” (There’s an entire think piece to be written on how many Americans, soaked in reality TV, seem to want a royal family, and how Donald Trump really just wants to be America’s version of the Queen of England, but we’ll hold that for another day.) 

In April, the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza praised Ivanka’s “cool” and “soothing” manner, suggesting she run for president instead of her wild and wacky father. Ivanka’s Republican National Convention speech, a love letter to various Democratic wish lists, inspired a frenzied “Ivanka for President” social-media cascade, with fans ranging from Mia Farrow to Tennessee senator Bob Corker. Here’s Corker, speaking to NBC News: “I don’t know if I’ve met a more composed, brilliant, beautiful-in-every-way person.”

Alas, fame and public adoration make for fickle friends, especially when you try to out-left the political Left. This week, while stumping for her new six-week paid maternity-leave plan — “Daddy, Daddy, we have to do this,” Donald Trump told an Iowa rally, describing his daughter’s persistent push for the project — Ivanka learned this the hard way.

It all started innocuously enough. On Wednesday, Ivanka hopped on a phone interview with Cosmopolitan, a publication best known for giving young women zesty sex tips and tragicomic life advice. The interchange quickly turned dark, however, and eventually morphed into a widespread anti-Ivanka media pile-on. Since neither of us wants to actually read Cosmo, I’ll roughly paraphrase the interview for you, with some points added for dramatic flair:

Reporter: Hi! Hillary Clinton released her amazing family-leave plan eons ago. Why did it take you savages so long?

Ivanka: I’ll choose to ignore that question. Yes, we’ve put together a great plan!

Reporter: Whatever. Why aren’t you giving dads maternity leave, too?

Ivanka: Well. Our maternity-leave plan is better than nothing, which is what America has now.

[Pause]

Ivanka: Also, this interview is not going as well as I thought it would, so I’ll toss out the fact that this proposal helps same-sex couples, too.  

Reporter: Ah ha! Gotcha! Speaking of same-sex couples, does your plan give maternity leave to gay men who adopt babies?

Ivanka: Um, no. Just mothers who give birth to babies.

Reporter: [Rolls eyes] Ugh. Moving on. You know, your father has said some pretty questionable things about pregnant people in the past.  

Ivanka: This is getting kind of negative. Also, it is absurd to imply that my father says questionable things. Where would you get that idea?

Reporter: Just so you know, many of the questionable things he says are plainly documented in print and on television, and you can also Google them!

Ivanka: I am somewhat surprised at your hostility. You know, there are magazines that have called me a modern-day superwoman. At least I think I remember that. Man, it’s been a long year.

Reporter: How are you going to pay for all this? Is this kind of like the plan for the wall?

Ivanka: Trust us: We’ll shift some stuff around with some other government stuff. Works every time. Also, sorry, I’ve got to go! [Click]

The interview, in other words, did not go well — and boy, were certain corners of the media gleeful. “Cosmo rips the halo off of Ivanka Trump,” crowed a headline at the Washington Post. “Ivanka Trump Shuts Down in the Face of Basic Questions from Cosmopolitan Magazine,” tutted Mother Jones. “My hot take is that Ivanka Trump is a bad surrogate who lies,” tweeted New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister, linking to her own online diatribe against Ivanka’s supposed maternity leave perfidy that might just rival the length of War and Peace.

Sheesh. Well, as they say, no well-intentioned but logistically challenged push to create a gigantic new entitlement program goes unpunished!

There’s a lesson here, of course: Try as you might, you can never out-left the left, and as Charles Krauthammer recently put it on Fox News, Republicans will never “out-Democrat the Democrats.” Your compromises will never be “good” enough. Your purity will never be pure enough. With this new maternity leave proposal, the Trump campaign is certainly trying to do just that. Here’s a second lesson: If he wins the presidency, it’s fair to expect that he’ll try to do more of the same.

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