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Ivanka Trump fooled all of us

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says that under his plan families will be able to “fully deduct” the average cost of childcare from their taxes. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

Ivanka Trump is way more political than she makes out.


OPINION

IVANKA Trump is pretending to be something she’s not. And until now, we’ve all fallen for it.

Donald Trump’s eldest daughter is currently dealing with the fallout from a testy interview with Cosmopolitan magazine. Confronted by a few mildly challenging questions about her father’s new maternity leave policy, Ms Trump lost her patience, accusing the reporter of “editorialising” and having “a lot of negativity”. She eventually cut the interview short.

Later, in a series of tweets, Ms Trump defended her behaviour.

“Politics aside, I’m working to raise awareness on issues that are of critical importance to American women and families,” she said.

“Regardless of who you support, policies benefiting women and families are becoming topics of mainstream conversation and that’s a good thing.

Cosmopolitan, your readers do and should care about issues impacting women and children. Keep the focus where it belongs — advocating change.”

Those four sentences perfectly illustrate the Ivanka Trump myth. Ms Trump claims she’s “raising awareness”, not campaigning. She says the focus belongs on “advocating change”, not critiquing her words.

In short, Ms Trump acts as though she’s nonpartisan and above the fray when she’s actually an essential part of her father’s political operation.

Ivanka Trump wants us to believe she’s above politics.

Ivanka Trump wants us to believe she’s above politics.Source:AFP

The child care and maternity leave policy Ms Trump was promoting in her Cosmopolitan interview is nakedly political. That’s true whether you think it’s good policy or not. Hillary Clinton is leading Donald Trump by a gigantic margin among female voters, and this is an obvious attempt to close the “gender gap”.

So, it’s a partisan message, with an equally partisan messenger. Ms Trump is not neutral. She stood right next to Trump and helped him announce the policy earlier this week. Ivanka, not Donald, wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal explaining the policy, and she, not Donald, spent the subsequent days flogging it all over the place.

The media should have treated Ms Trump like any other political surrogate campaigning on Trump’s behalf. Instead, she coasted through a bunch of softball interviews before Cosmopolitan finally challenged her.

In an interview with ABC, for example, Ms Trump said the Trump Organisation offers all its employees paid maternity leave. That wasn’t true. She claimed Hillary Clinton had “no child care plan”. That was false too. Neither claim was fact-checked at the time.

The two Trumps announced their childcare and maternity leave policy this week.

The two Trumps announced their childcare and maternity leave policy this week.Source:AFP

Cosmopolitan’s interview wasn’t exactly hostile either, but it did include some probing questions. Why doesn’t this policy include paternity leave? How will you pay for it? Why is Donald Trump suddenly so in favour of maternity leave, given he’s criticised it so bluntly in the past?

Those are all perfectly fair questions, and they wouldn’t be out of place in any political discussion, but they left Ms Trump so incensed that she hung up the phone. She clearly expects to be treated differently to other interview subjects. Given her role in the campaign, there’s no good reason for that.

“She travelled the campaign trail despite being seven months pregnant, reportedly played a central role in her father’s dismissal of former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and attended high-level meetings last week with the campaign’s vice presidential finalists,” the Hill reported just before the Republican convention.

“Her visibility prompted a number of Trump allies to only half-jokingly suggest that she should be on the ticket.

“Inside her father’s campaign, which has brazenly eschewed the advice of political experts, Ms Trump is one of the few people who can, on occasion anyway, influence the candidate’s thinking,” reported the New York Times.

Firing campaign staff. Attending high-level meetings. We haven’t even scraped the surface, but you can already tell that isn’t the regular role of a candidate’s daughter. Ms Trump is effectively her father’s top political adviser.

Ivanka was the star of the Republican National Convention.

Ivanka was the star of the Republican National Convention.Source:Reuters

Whether Trump wins the election or loses, his accomplished daughter will have to return to her job running the family’s business empire. She has a reputation to protect, and if she can give everyone the impression she’s above the political fray, that will help.

But that image of Ivanka Trump is a myth. She’s more than an active participant in this election — she is one of its most important players. So when Ms Trump is asked tough questions, she has absolutely no right to be angry.