The White House / Flickr jared and ivanka middle east...
The White House / Flickr

“We’re in the zoo, but let’s try hard not to be part of the animals,” Jared Kushner used to say to wife Ivanka, before his father in law was elected POTUS. Then he was talking about life in the New York jet set or perhaps just life in general. What must he say now? “We’re in the insane asylum but let’s try not to behave like the unmedicated?“ “Jarvanka” as Steve Bannon used to refer to the couple, is noted for being Trump’s protectors as well as being known as a couple who will offer up nothing but platitudes and pabulum by way of conversation if they believe that the conversation is being recorded.

Jarvanka has been challenged from the very beginning when Steve Bannon used to deliberately schedule events, such as the Muslim ban executive order, for sunset on Friday nights in order to leave them out of the loop while they were off the clock for Shabbat. A lengthy definitive piece has been written about Jarvanka, not only summarizing their time in the White House but predicting that when push comes to shove, they will worry more about protecting their own reputations and that of their children before they’ll take care of dear old Dad. A source said they may even leave the White House the end of the 2018 school year, while another source said that they weren’t planning that far ahead. Probably a good idea considering how fast the narrative in the Trump White House changes. Vanity Fair:

Ivanka is more practiced in the spotlight than Kushner, though she can be cold to staffers, particularly those who are not in favor with the president, according to a former West Wing aide. “She tries to charm you at first, and then there’ll be the cutting remark in front of her father,” the former adviser added. Kushner, though he tries to be casual and jokes with other staffers, can have even more of an edge. Once, when Priebus asked Kushner what his team of Cordish and Liddell had been up to, Kushner retorted, according to someone who heard the exchange, “Reince, we aren’t getting paid. What the fuck do you care?” […]

A combination of self-assurance and utter ignorance is a defining trait of this White House, along with cocky vulgarity and casual cruelty. Jared and Ivanka display the first two traits and can’t help but be tarred by association with the latter two. If they are watching the animals in the Washington zoo carefully enough, they will have noticed that, even as they themselves amass power within the West Wing, their juice outside of it is drying up. Washington is a place where you are judged by what you achieve, not by what you say you care about.

There was a time when it was assumed, desired actually, that Jared and Ivanka would provide the impetus for Trump to “pivot” away from outrageousness and into a recognizable Republican format. No more.

The disappointment among the kinds of people who were looking to them to be a moderating influence is undisguised. As a political consultant puts it, describing the current mood, “You can’t prevent him from trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood or getting out of the Paris agreement? What are you good for?” When Ivanka said soberly in an interview that she tries “to stay out of politics,” she was mocked mercilessly on late-night shows and on Twitter. As a guest on Seth Meyers’s program, Maya Rudolph channeled the First Daughter and echoed Ivanka’s statement, putting “politics” in air quotes: “We get it. We get it,” Rudolph said. “You are an adviser to the president, but not into ‘politics.’ ” She went on to note that Ivanka spoke through her teeth as if she had “a sexy secret,” in the manner of a saleswoman in a lingerie store.

“Trump is emotionally dependent on his son-in-law and his daughter but they can’t do anything for him,” said a Washington veteran. “All they can do is make him feel better about what his life has come to.” That is a sad commentary, that anyone could look upon the presidency as “what his life has come to.” But then again, the other people who held that office, for the most part, spent their entire lives preparing for it, battling to win it, and then doing it, if not with all their might, at least with some modicum of diligence and respect for the importance of the office. Here, the presidency is like everything else in Trump’s life. Failure. 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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