Ivanka Trump is learning that no matter what she does in Washington, the left will view her with scorn and derision.
After taking a non-paying White House job to end ethics concerns about her serving as an unofficial adviser to President Trump, she was hit with allegations of nepotism and further criticism that she’s unqualified to have her father’s ear on policy.
Sure, other presidents have had family members work in their administration. President Kennedy hired his brother Bobby for attorney general. President Clinton tapped his wife Hillary to lead a health care reform task force.
But having Ivanka in the White House shepherding policy to empower women in the workplace or advising her father, as she did throughout the campaign, hit a nerve.
“There’s a reason anti-nepotism laws went into effect after Bobby Kennedy served in his brother’s administration: we want to ensure that White House employees, including the president, serve the American people — and not collude to profit off them,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer. “It’s hard to know whether the Trump family cares more about whether the health care bill succeeds or whether their new hotel and Ivanka’s shoe line does. That’s a big problem.”
Ms. Trump has been criticized every step of the way, for getting an office in West Wing, for getting security clearing, for meeting foreign dignitaries with the president.
“I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement announcing her new job title.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware reacted by sending a letter to the Office of Government Ethics demanding more scrutiny because of the “confusion” surrounding Ms. Trump’s role.
“We write today to request information about the ethics rules that President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be required to comply with, or has indicated she will voluntarily comply with, in her role as an advisor to the President,” the two Democrats wrote to OGE Director Walter Shaub.
One of the most rabid attacks came earlier in the week from MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who compared Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president, to Saddam Hussein’s bloodthirsty sons, Uday and Qusay.
“I kid about everything, but Uday and Qusay working for Saddam Hussein — you couldn’t go to a restaurant and have eye contact with those guys without getting killed,” Mr. Matthews said on his show. “These people are really powerful. Imagine getting into a fight in the office with Jared or Ivanka. They have enormous power, and they’re always gonna be there.”
Ms. Trump also has suffered sharp attacks from the general public.
During the transition, Ms. Trump, traveling with her children, was accosted on a JetBlue flight by a passenger who proclaimed: “Your father is ruining our country. Why is she on our flight?”
The man, Hunter College professor Matthew Lasner, was removed form the plane before takeoff.
When she marked the first birthday of her son Monday by tweeting a photo of herself holding the newborn last year, she was subjected to a flurry of attacks.
Other women in politics have suffered attacks, such as Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who was labeled a rube despite being governor of Alaska.
“With Ivanka Trump, it’s a different situation altogether. She has no policy experience, and it’s hard to imagine any scenario under which a Republican president other than Donald Trump would appoint her to such a role,” said Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women & Politics Institute.
Ms. Trump was not being treated unfairly, at least in the press, Ms. Lawless said. Her brothers, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, likely would get the same treatment — if not worse, she said.
“They would be taken less seriously. Ivanka Trump at least spoke about policy on the campaign trail, whereas they did not; and Ivanka Trump is widely regarded as poised, reasonable, and articulate — far more so, it seems to me, than either of her brothers,” Ms. Lawless said.