Trav­els with daddy

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion -

WASH­ING­TON — “Sur­real” was the word Ivanka Trump used to de­scribe North Korea, which she briefly vis­ited this past week­end with dear ol’ dad.

It was the first time an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent had crossed the thresh­old into the her­mit king­dom, where Trump met with his love-let­ter-writ­ing bro Kim Jong Un. Nat­u­rally, Ivanka needed to be there.

It was, in­deed, sur­real — and not just to the princess. The world watched as the duo, along with the per­pet­u­ally sus­pi­cious-look­ing Jared Kush­ner, trav­eled be­tween the G-20 Sum­mit in Osaka, Ja­pan, and the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone di­vid­ing North and South Korea. Ivanka played her role, which ap­par­ently was to look so pretty, to speak about women’s em­pow­er­ment, and to look so pretty.

She’s a show­stop­per, to be sure, and doubt­less good com­pany on the pres­i­dent’s trav­els. She’s been at his side since she was a lit­tle girl, af­ter all, at­tend­ing balls and pre­mieres, stylishly dressed and com­fort­able in the pub­lic mi­lieu. And per­haps the pres­i­dent felt he needed a fe­male pres­ence to fill the void of first lady Me­la­nia Trump’s ab­sence.

Ivanka was ap­pre­cia­tively re­ceived dur­ing a visit to South Korea’s Osan Air Base, but not so much in Osaka, it seemed. Ex­cept for the speech she was to de­liver, Ivanka looked weirdly out of place everywhere she ap­peared, which was everywhere. She’s a daugh­ter, not a diplo­mat (ex­cept in a pre­tend world) or head of state. Yet she waltzed into meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions as though she were. Tech­ni­cally, Ivanka is an ad­viser to the pres­i­dent, but what does that mean in re­al­ity?

Trump may have been amused by his daugh­ter’s high-pro­file par­tic­i­pa­tion, but not ev­ery­one was. In a mem­o­rable mo­ment cap

tured on video in Osaka, Ivanka awk­wardly joined a group of world lead­ers deep in con­ver­sa­tion. They were Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, British Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund pres­i­dent Chris­tine La­garde and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron — not pre­cisely Ivanka’s peer group, but chutz­pah seems to be a fam­ily trait.

La­garde was nod­ding her head as May said, “As soon as you charge them with that eco­nomic as­pect of it, a lot of peo­ple start lis­ten­ing who oth­er­wise wouldn’t lis­ten.” Where­upon, a smil­ing Ivanka in­ter­jected:

“And the same with the de­fense side of it, in terms of the whole busi­ness that’s been, sort of, male-dom­i­nated.”

La­garde’s ex­pres­sion, com­bined with her pursed lips, was dev­as­tat­ing com­men­tary. Then the fun be­gan. The video went vi­ral and sud­denly Ivanka was be­ing ar­ti­fi­cially pho­to­bombed into the his­tor­i­cal record, plac­ing her in fa­mous and fic­tional events — at Yalta with Pres­i­dent Franklin Roo­sevelt, on the soc­cer field with Me­gan Rapi­noe, tread­ing the icy wa­ters with Jack and Rose in “Ti­tanic.”

But more satir­i­cal than the phony im­ages were the real ones. Re­peat­edly, Ivanka ap­peared to have been air­dropped into sit­u­a­tions and places she didn’t be­long. In a thought cloud above La­garde’s head, I imag­ined her think­ing, “What the hell is she do­ing here?” To that point, what was the pres­i­dent think­ing?

In a word, brand­ing. Or so it is rea­son­able to sur­mise. Brand­ing is what Trump is al­ways do­ing in the guise of diplo­macy. And it’s what he would have his daugh­ter do in prepa­ra­tion for her post-pres­i­dency years. Though it’s not clear that Ivanka wants to run for pres­i­dent, as her fa­ther has sug­gested, she might enjoy a top diplo­matic post, as he has also hinted.

To some­one like Don­ald Trump, show­ing off — or should we say dis­play­ing — Ivanka to the world is a golden mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­nity. If his ul­ti­mate goal is to pro­mote the Trump brand and the chil­dren who will carry it for­ward, why not take ad­van­tage of such op­por­tu­ni­ties? Who cares, any­way?

Ev­ery­body, it seems, ex­cept the see-noth­ing Trump base. The fa­ther-daugh­ter team isn’t merely off-put­ting for its trans­par­ent use of the of­fice of the pres­i­dency to ad­vance fu­ture, per­sonal gain but for what it sig­nals to the world: This is not a se­ri­ous White House, and Amer­i­can diplo­macy is a fam­ily busi­ness.

Nei­ther half of the “Ja­vanka” jug­ger­naut came to the White House with any es­pe­cially rel­e­vant skills, yet both have se­cu­rity clear­ances and Kush­ner, a real es­tate scion, was as­signed the task of se­cur­ing Mid­dle East peace. Ivanka, whose re­sume in­cludes mod­el­ing and cre­at­ing a cloth­ing busi­ness, has seem­ingly now evolved from ad­viser (wear the pur­ple tie?) to diplo­mat to ... what­ever her heart de­sires.

Pre­sum­ably, she and her husband enjoy job se­cu­rity, but one fan­ta­sizes about pho­to­shop­ping them back home to New York — or wher­ever they choose — and declar­ing this dread­ful re­al­ity show a wrap.

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