Ivanka: The Real First Lady of the Trump White House
Matthew JAMISON | 19.12.2016 | WORLD / Americas

Ivanka: The Real First Lady of the Trump White House

The honorary role of First Lady of the United States has not always been carried out by the spouse of the President. There have been occasions throughout American history when daughters, sisters and nieces of the US President have occupied the role of First Lady. Anna Roosevelt, the daughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt was found to fill in for her mother during ceremonial functions and hosting events by her father's side during World War II while her mother, the social reformer and pioneering First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was touring army sites tending to soldiers. James Buchanan was the only single male occupant of the Oval Office and relied upon his niece Harriet Lane to carry out the ceremonial role of First Lady while Chelsea Clinton stepped more into the role for her mother towards the end of the Clinton administration while First Lady Hillary Clinton was running for a Senate seat in New York. 

So the case could be with Ivanka Trump, the beautiful and glamorous New Yorker daughter of Donald Trump from his first marriage to Eastern European model Ivana Trump. Ivanka is quite possibly the most favoured of the Trump children and hence the most influential and powerful. Her father went so far as to say, in rather creepy fashion: «Perhaps if Ivanka weren't my daughter I would be dating her». Ivanka may become the real First Lady of the Trump White House and a significant force behind the throne since Mrs. Trump, another former Eastern European model, Melania has indicated she will be staying in Trump Tower, New York City during the first six months of the Trump administration while Trump's fifth child finishes school there. Mrs. Trump has also shown little interest in the political operation of her husband. She gave only two speeches during the campaign, one of which was a rip off from Michelle Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. Meanwhile, Ivanka, was a constant presence in the Trump campaign, stumping across the country on behalf of her father, using her celebrity to dazzle millennial voters and shaping her father's policies on childcare. 

Ivanka Trump was born in New York City on October 30th 1981. She was educated in New York City until the age of 15 before attending boarding school in Connecticut, an experience she did not enjoy and equated to like being in a «prison». Ivanka went on to attend the Ivy League Georgetown University, the alma mater of Bill Clinton and my own where I attended for postgraduate study in Georgetown's School of Foreign Service Leadership Seminar. Ivanka however did not complete her undergraduate studies at Georgetown and transferred to the Wharton Business School of University Pennsylvania following in her father's footsteps and graduating with a degree in Economics in 2004. Ms. Trump is fluent in French and went on to pursue a business career within her father's vast empire, becoming Executive Vice-President of Development and Acquisitions in the Trump Organisation. She married a Jewish man Jared Kushner and converted to Judaism. Indeed, if she does become the real First Lady of the White House she will set a record as the first Jewish convert to occupy the position. Jared Kushner's father was sentenced to jail in the early 2000s for not paying his taxes (something he has in common with his daughter-in-law's father), illegal campaign contributions and other crimes. Jared Kushner's father, Charles, did time in jail. This was before he secured his son a place at Harvard with a $2.5 million donation to the Cambridge of Massachusetts, despite Jared Kushner not having the required grades to attend which was commented upon even by Harvard's own admissions officials.

Politically Ivanka Trump is not a dyed in the wool red hot Republican. She has said of her political identity: «Like many of my fellow millennials I do not consider myself categorically a Republican or a Democrat». She leans heavily on the socio-cultural pop genre identification of «millennial» to help connect herself with less affluent members of her generation. In 2007 she donated $1000 to the first Presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and she and her husband raised $40, 000 for the Senate campaign of New Jersey Democrat Corey Booker. What kind of political and policy role could we expect from Ivanka Trump as the real First Lady of the Trump White House? She will indeed occupy a salient advisory role and will be a force in her own right which will set her apart from other First Ladies beyond the traditional ceremonial and hostess functions. In August 2015 Donald Trump stated that Ivanka was his senior advisor on: «women's health and women». Ivanka herself has said she would like to be an advocate for women, Israel, childcare issues and the environment. It was she who arranged the meetings for her father after the election with leading environmentalists Al Gore and Leonardo Di Caprio. It was also Ivanka who was credited with shaping and designing her father's childcare proposals. She appeared in a number of political advertisements for her father ion the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and it was she that was chosen by Trump to introduce him before his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. After the election she took up a place on the Trump Transition team and she and her husband Jared both attended a meeting with President-elect Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as sitting in on phone calls with the leader of Argentina and the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Indeed, Congresswoman Pelosi noted that when the conversation turned to childcare issues the President-elect passed the phone to his daughter to discuss with the former Speaker. 

It is clear that Ivanka Trump is the First Child among the Trump children and holds the greatest affection from her father. She is his favourite and she is the most powerful and influential of all the Trump children when it comes to the political operation of her father. She and her husband Jared plan to live immediately in Washington DC and have already been house hunting. Perhaps they will even move into the White House. Not only will she occupy the role of First Lady in the first six months of the Trump administration while Mrs. Trump is still in New York in the Ivy Tower of Trump Tower, but perhaps she will continue in this role beyond that period of time not just in the ceremonial role as First Lady hostess but also as a senior, and perhaps, most influential advisor and policy advocate of her father's. Ivanka could well prove to be a moderating her socially liberal influence on her father when it comes to issues such as climate change, gay rights, childcare policies et al. Perhaps The Donald is grooming her for a future Presidential run of her own. Could we yet she another Trump v Clinton contest in the form of Ivanka v Chelsea? Time alone will tell but it would not surprise me if Trump had his ambitions set on creating his own political dynasty as so much of him and his life reminds me of that classic 1980s Aaron Spelling mega-soap drama Dynasty. Indeed, Joan Collins herself has admitted her character of the scheming Alexis Carrington Colby was modeled by the producers on Donald Trump to be a female Trump.

Tags: US  Trump