Tuesday 19 March 2019

Comment: 'Javanka' provide stability for president amid turmoil of White House

Education secretary Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump walk to Air Force One for a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: AP
Education secretary Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump walk to Air Force One for a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: AP

Rob Crilly

The decision by Ivanka Trump to close her clothing brand last week was celebrated by her critics as another blow struck for the forces of democracy against a family intent on milking the presidency for all it was worth.

And you can't blame Ms Trump for her decision. She has been the most put-upon member of the Trump inner circle, criticised for speaking up (how did she earn her position?) and for not speaking up (doesn't she care?); accused again and again of conflicts of interest, while opponents pored over her company's employment and manufacturing records.

Far from being a defeat, however, her decision was a choice. It was a choice to put politics ahead of commerce and a signal that Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who are frequently rumoured to be on the brink of quitting politics in Washington, are in for the long haul, taking on more responsibility after vanquishing enemy after enemy. Once again, it suggests President Donald Trump has the White House exactly where he wants it to be - run by family.

When Ms Trump said she was closing her company, the announcement was accompanied by messages that made clear she would be doubling down on her work in Washington.

A convenient smokescreen for a troubled brand? Maybe.

But the couple are on a roll. Things are so good that they are reportedly looking for a new home in the capital, scotching frequent headlines that they yearned for their old, more cosmopolitan, life in New York.

Jared and Ivanka have been spending plenty of time with the president in his private dining room adjoining the Oval Office, according to the well-connected 'Axios' news website - often without the presence of John Kelly, the chief of staff.


Remember how he was appointed to impose order, restricting Oval Office access to fringe characters and rationing Mr Trump's use of social media?

One look at the president's Twitter feed tells you how that is going. Even if he does now stay on to 2020, his standing is diminished.

His decline reflects the reduced standing of the last independent power centres in this administration - the generals. (Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, one of the retired Marine generals once beloved by the president, hangs on at the Pentagon but does so only by staying out of the country as much as possible.)

The globalists and bankers are also in retreat as Mr Trump wages his trade wars.

And the Republican apparatchiks and Bannonite populists are no longer needed now the controversial president has largely rebuilt the party in his own, barnstorming image.

Meanwhile, the first lady has emerged as the most captivating figure of this administration.

She has ditched the usual rules for a more combative position, whether criticising the media or highlighting the plight of children separated from parents at the US border with a visit to a detention centre in that coat.


So too, is 'Javanka' on a roll. Jared finally has his security clearance after FBI checks dragged on for more than a year.

And Ivanka has been leading plans to overhaul the US workforce, writing a recent 'Wall Street Journal' article on the jobs of tomorrow ("Our vision is to create a workforce culture that fosters and prioritises life-long learning").

Both are also expected to play important roles in campaigning ahead of November's mid-term elections.

Both will also act as lightning rods, particularly while Mr Kushner's family has sprawling business interests that risk overlapping with his work on Middle East peace and trade negotiations.

But they are going nowhere, just as long-time Trump-watchers said from the very start.

This is a president who surrounds himself with loyalists and knows that they don't come much more loyal than family.

Amid all the reports of White House turmoil and of turnover tittle-tattle, there is a predictable stability at the very heart of Mr Trump's world. (© Daily Telegraph)

Irish Independent

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