On Monday morning Politico reported that Ivanka is really disappointed that her brand of being “socially liberal in the sheets, but socially conservative in the streets” is not working out. As Politico put it, Ivanka “desperately wants to lower expectations of what she can achieve in an administration where she views herself as one person on a large team—even though other White House officials said she still has access to the president whenever she desires it.”
Much of the reporting about Ivanka rests on the premise that she is “socially liberal” for ideological reasons, rather than for brand-management ones. Ivanka’s failure to moderate her father—on LGBT rights, climate change, and abortion—is due both to the fact that she probably doesn’t have nearly as much power as people like to think, and that she simply doesn’t care about these issues beyond how they might affect her image. After all, Ivanka could always use the tried-and-true rude teen method and publicly condemn some of her father’s actions.
The question is how the media will react if Ivanka does manage to get her family leave plan in the upcoming budget. As Politico writes, “Ivanka Trump is aware she needs a real win—not just starting a conversation about paid family leave that may or may not materialize in a final budget—to win back credibility.” But Ivanka’s paid family leave plan is a sham: What she has put forward has been panned by policy experts as likely to do more harm than good. And if family leave is included in the final budget at all, it will likely be couched with entitlement and tax cuts that will hurt all but the very wealthy. There is no credibility to be won here.
If Ivanka manages to push through some hollow family leave plan, it’s easy to imagine that it will be hailed as a “real win” for her supposed campaign to add a moderate element to her father’s agenda. But so far it’s clear that there is only one person who will actually benefit from any of this: Ivanka Trump.