Any random heiress can sunbathe in the Seychelles, ski in Aspen or ascend the Himalayas.
Only Ivanka has keepsakes from the Demilitarized Zone.
It must have been wild, finding herself next to an egomaniacal autocrat like that. It must have been something to meet Kim Jong Un, too.
With Daddy she swanned toward the Hermit Kingdom, testing the boundaries of Take Our Daughters to Work Day. I briefly wondered what value she was adding, because I foolishly prioritized the interests of America above the adventures of Ivanka. Optics be damned, she created a memory to last a lifetime. I trust that she and Jared, also gratuitously present, will mention it in their holiday letter.
Oh, to be Ivanka! The clothes, the kids, the teeth, the entitlement. She goes everywhere because she belongs everywhere – that confidence is in her platinum-encrusted genes – and because there’s no corner of the world or cranny of existence that isn’t enhanced by her presence.
That was the joke in a Zelig-inspired, Gump-reminiscent meme that exploded in tweets over the past few days. Look: There’s Ivanka between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. And here’s Ivanka teaming with Jonas Salk to develop the polio vaccine. She stretches out in bed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She peeks through a window in the background of the painting “American Gothic.”
Sometimes Twitter is a toilet. Sometimes it’s a reason to live.
And sometimes a hashtag distills a bottomless sea of disgust into a few acid droplets. The one accompanying these images was #unwantedivanka. It stemmed less from her brush with the Dear Leader than from a bit of video that showed her clumsily inserting herself into a conversation among Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Emmanuel Macron of France in Osaka, Japan. They may have credentials, but she has luminosity.
And gall. That’s what binds her and Jared. It’s their marriage’s secret sauce.
Last week he finally started to unveil his Middle East peace plan – because of course Jared can solve what actual experts failed to – and it threw $50 billion of theoretical investment at the problem without tackling any of the toughest stuff. It had already been disparaged by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; in a closed-door meeting he told Jewish leaders that the proposal was “not particularly original” and quite possibly “unexecutable,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post.
The rest of the world greeted it with no more enthusiasm, alternately shrugging and laughing, but Jared was partly insulated from that response because he and “Ivanks,” as he fetchingly calls her, were off to the Koreas. So many hot spots, so little time.
Ivanka nudged Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, out of the frame, essentially performing the roles of the entire Cabinet and the first lady (who skipped the trip) at once. Coming soon: her book on multitasking.
When the president introduced her during a visit with U.S. troops in South Korea, he said: “She’s going to steal the show! She’ll steal it!” I got a little misty just then. She has grown up to be what every dad dreams of for his daughter: an attention kleptomaniac.
And so lovely. Donald Trump told the troops that she and Pompeo were “Beauty and the Beast.”
Back home, her big brother was doing the family even prouder. A chip off the old birther, Don Jr. shared – then erased – a tweet that asserted that Kamala Harris, whose father came from Jamaica and whose mother came from India, was “not an American black.”
I seldom feel sorry for President Trump but if I were going to, it would be on account of his spawn and spawn-in-law. He has given them celebrity, fancy government titles, security clearances and entry into circles they’d never penetrate otherwise. They have given him humiliating headlines to go along with the mortifying ones that he already had in abundance. Talk about a trade imbalance.
But we can’t dismiss them any more than the president can, because they’re mascots not just for his administration but for this moment in American life.
Ivanka and Jared typify the belief that altitude is achievement, that breaching a sanctum is as valid as earning a place there, and that faking it is indeed making it. Call yourself a peacemaker and – abracadabra – you’re a peacemaker. Play the part of a diplomat with enough élan, and people will eventually take you for one.
They’re shamelessness made flesh. In Homer’s epic poems and in Greek mythology, no flaw rivals hubris, but in the Family Trump, it’s as nonnegotiable as veneers. Pride isn’t what goeth before the fall. It’s what gets you to the inaugural ball.
Frank Bruni is a columnist for The New York Times.