On Tuesday, writing for Vanity Fair, Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox revealed how first daughter Ivanka Trump's political strategy of playing the 'dissociated princess' has played to her advantage — and how recent events suggest her strategy is reaching its limits.
"Ivanka's ability to operate on this otherworldly separate track — both from the president and from the everyday realities and rules that surround most Americans — was both an asset to the kind of power she cared about and a contrast from her father," wrote Fox. "She ignored the harsher realities of the administration she was part of by creating a distinct narrative that she could market to those who were open to buying it as a way to both aid her father and whatever role she would ultimately decide to take on once he leaves the White House. It is a kind of impulse control and compartmentalization that the elder Trump does not possess. Her father is temperamentally unable not to dwell on and rave about exactly what is on his mind or the public consciousness at that precise moment, even when it's in his obvious political interest to do so."
"Her dissociative ability played out again over the weekend," wrote Fox. "The controversy unfolded on Thursday, when Wichita State University Tech decided it would not air a speech that Ivanka had prerecorded for its virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday. The school made the decision after students and staff condemned the White House's response to the protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. Ivanka had been asked to deliver the address in February, and she recorded the address, which largely talked about coronavirus and did not address matters of race, before the protests began." However, following outrage, the school acknowledged the lineup was insensitive and canceled her engagement.
"Ivanka decided to release the taped address on her own Twitter account, where in the days since Floyd's murder, she has also tweeted to express sympathy to his family and all those hurting, as well as to promote her father's economic agenda, a farming initiative, and to wish Vice President Mike Pence a happy birthday by posting a photo of the two of them waving together," Fox wrote. "'Our nation's campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia,' she posted on Friday. 'Listening to one another is important now more than ever!' Immediately, her remarks caught ire online, and the hashtag #ByeIvanka trended."
"Part of what hit a nerve was her blaming 'cancel culture' as the reason why students would not want to hear from a member of the Trump administration on a day that's supposed to be about them and their accomplishments," wrote Fox. "Firstly, what were diverse students from the middle of the country going to learn from Ivanka Trump, a white, rich White House-advising first daughter, about racial protests and police brutality? And secondly, you get 'canceled' for a comment, not for a full presidential term. Students were not shutting her or her ideas out without hearing them from her or because they blindly hate her or her father, as she intimated. Her ideas are impossible to shut out, because she is one of the most powerful people in this country. They already knew how Ivanka responded to this moment, and that response was enough to understand where she stood."
"Ivanka's two-tracked-ness is, on one level, tactical," wrote Fox. "She has had to appear ignorant of the most egregious decisions her father has made in order to work in the areas she has wanted to work on, and she's remained one of Trump's longest-serving staffers by keeping mostly quiet if she has, in fact, disagreed with him. But after the protests of last week, ignorance may no longer be a viable approach."
"Those black squares that everyone posted last week, as small of a step as they were, were meant to connote that white allies were aware of their ignorance and wanted to show that they were listening, willing to open their eyes and minds and ears to learn what they did not know," concluded Fox. "Gestures are liable to be closely interrogated. The Bible stunt—as with many previous such maneuvers, Trump pulled at Ivanka's suggestion — was the height of the performative gesture without any kind of substantive change or deep reflection that protesters have been rallying against.
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