Ivanka Trump, I’m happy to report, is moving into a house a few blocks from mine in the Kalorama section of Washington, ending the Washington parlor game over where she, her husband Jared Kushner, and their three children would settle. Score a loss for Georgetown, where the Trumps had been looking for weeks, and a win for Kalorama, where former President Barack Obama and his family will also be living after Inauguration Day. The high-powered influx is likely to prove more than the narrow streets can bear, but what the neighborhood will lose in parking, it may make up for with a sharp increase in property values.
As citizens, we should all be thankful Ivanka is coming to town. She’s the mostly sensible, contained Trump, a sea of calm as icily perfect as Elsa in "Frozen." During the campaign, the favorite Trump became the antidote to her bumptious father’s intemperate remarks, even though she never directly rebuked him. Dad may have been caught in video laughing about groping women and calling them hideous names, but how bad could he be if she loved him? She told female voters how her father had “total respect for women,” how good he was to those who worked for him and how devoted she was to advancing women’s issues such as paid family leave. She gave a boffo speech at the convention in a sheath that would sell out on her website that night, after a performance her father rated a “10.” Against all odds, he won the white women’s vote.
While we saw a lot of Ivanka standing by her man, we didn’t get to know her. One place to look for clues is her 2009 book “The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life.” It’s not meant to be revealing — it’s a self-help book — but it does give a glimpse of the torment of being the Daughter Of. Before she hands out advice — don’t be late, wear cologne, reek of street food or dress casually — she tries to convince her reader that she’s just like the rest of us.
“We’ve all been dealt a winning hand and it is up to each of us to play it right and smart.” Hmmm.
She has no choice but to concede that she had “the great good fortune to be born into a life of wealth and privilege,” but she’s determined to convince us that starting at the top was not “any kind of birthright or foregone conclusion” and comes with a lot of disadvantages.
It’s just a page later that she describes starting at the top and attending her first meeting at Trump Entertainment Resorts at 25, the youngest director of a publicly traded company. She’s nervous, of course, but that’s because her leg up is an enormous burden she had to overcome. Think of Brad Pitt complaining about his good looks. Later, sensing the futility of this argument, she orders the reader who might resent her good fortune to just “Get over it.”
Whatever her title — Trump’s lawyers claim anti-nepotism rules do not apply to West Wing positions — it’s not because she’s a crack real estate and fashion maven that she will be a heartbeat or two away from the presidency. Although the book was written when the birther movement and the White House were just a twinkle in her father’s eye, she recounts her early training for her upcoming role of acting First Lady. When it came time to greet party guests at Trump Tower, Ivanka’s mother (Trump’s first wife Ivana) would make herself scarce. Ivanka “learned to be a good and gracious host" by rushing happily to answer the door in my mother’s absence . . . so that I’d barely notice when my mother finally made her appearance.”
If her stepmother, Melania, ever moves to the White House, she will undoubtedly notice. In the meantime, Ivanka may make a good substitute as First Lady and make Kalorama great (again). By contrast when Vice President-elect Mike Pence temporarily moved into a white colonial with green shutters in a leafy D.C. suburb, neighbors greeted the Republican interloper with a barrage of rainbow flags flapping from their homes to quietly protest his virulent stand as governor of Indiana to ensure bakers would never be forced to turn out cakes with a groom and groom on top.
The Trump-Kushners have no such baggage and are likely to fit in as well in Washington as they did on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Will Ivanka, like first ladies before her with their literacy, mental health and just say no initiatives, take up women’s issues that Republicans, including her father, don’t normally embrace? She has pledged to so, and she may mean it, unlike her father who treats his campaign promises as metaphors. In this instance, we should hope that the acorn falls far from the tree. Ivanka, welcome to Washington — and not a minute too soon.
Margaret Carlson is a former White House correspondent for Time, and was Time's first woman columnist. She appeared on CNN's "Capital Gang" for 15 years. Carlson has won two National Headliner Awards as well as the Belva Ann Lockwood alumni award from George Washington University Law School. Read more reports from Margaret Carlson — Click Here Now.
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