Today, Ivanka Trump tweeted that she will be pleased to "serve alongside General Kelly."
The anti-Trump media went nuts.
Did this represent a power play? What does it mean? "Serve alongside."
As one who has spent his life reading and writing about the children of presidents, interviewing 19 of them, traveling with them to foreign countries, visiting in their homes, entertaining them in mine, sitting in the Oval Office with several of them, I can offer a little perspective on this subject.
(Ivanka Trump meets with Lydia Pogu and Joy Bishara, two Chibok girls who escaped the Boko Haram, the day that the State Department released its report on human trafficking. Photo Credit: Chloe Wead)
Yes, the new chief of staff, John Kelly, will run a tight ship. Projects and people will go through him.
No, he will not isolate the president from his wife and children. Sorry. It doesn't work that way. Does your life work that way?
And his wife and children will still lobby their favorite projects. Maybe after hours, or over a sandwich at lunch but it will still happen.
Don't your children lobby you?
A family does not cease to become a family when it moves into the White House.
I worked closely, daily, with the children of George H.W. Bush. Including that time when James O. Baker, III was running the presidential campaign. And later when Governor John Sununu was running the White House. Baker and Sununu were arguably two of the greatest chiefs of staff in American history. They were considered total control freaks. Every idea and scrap of paper went through their hands.
But neither one blocked the president's sons or daughter. I was sometimes with them when they called or he called them. Or when they met backstage or for a Chinese dinner.
They were respectful enough not to usurp the authority of the president's man but they did not shy away from offering their ideas or opinions. In fact, a case can be made, that if George W. Bush had been more involved, the Richard Darman tax increase would never have occurred and Bush, Sr. would not have broken his famous pledge, "read my lips" and just maybe he would have been re-elected to a second term.
(Ivanka hugs Lydia Pogu, escaped Chibok girl. Photo Credit: Chloe Wead)
The very position of chief of staff owes its power to presidential children.
George Washington took his stepson, Jackie, as an aide de camp at the battle of Yorktown. Jackie died from a communal disease. George Adams and John Adams, II, both served as secretaries to the president. So did young Smith Van Buren, Robert Tyler, Jr., Richard Taylor, Robert Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., Webb Hayes and the list goes on.
As the position of secretary to the president grew, the first chiefs of staff emerged from the swamp. Sherman Adams stepped forth, running the White House for Dwight David Eisenhower. But even then, Ike's son, John Eisenhower, also worked on the White House staff and lived in the private quarters. His wife, Barbara, served as hostess on the road trips, since First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower, had a fear of flying.
It's true, there have been some pretty tightly run White House operations that tended to shut out the children. FDR's kids had to make an appointment to see their father. But Roosevelt had a dysfunctional marriage and family. It should not be invoked by critics of "kid power" as an example. The last year in office, FDR brought in his daughter Anna, to run the White House and help him run interference with First Lady Eleanor, while he picked up his old romance with Lucy Rutherford. She was with him when he died in Warm Springs, Georgia.
You can read it all in "The Raising of a President" or in "All the President's Children."
There is nothing to be alarmed about. The best things that have happened to Donald Trump have happened when Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were involved. The trip to the Middle East, which involved back-to-back meetings with Saudi Arabia and Israel, is an example.
Yes, Kelly will run a tight ship, so too did James Baker, John Sununu, and Leon Panetta, but Trump will not be denied face time with his own family. Not gonna happen. And John Kelly, who lost a son in combat, wouldn't want it to happen.
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush. He is the author of "Game of Thorns: Inside the Clinton-Trump Campaign of 2016," which is due to be released on Feb. 28, 2017. Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
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