There's no way to write this without it sounding creepily oedipal: Ivanka Trump may be poised to take on the role of First Lady instead of Donald Trump's actual wife, Melania Trump. Several news sources, including CNN and The New York Times, have been publishing speculation that the female Trump scion is set to be "the most powerful First Daughter" in history. To what extent this presents a conflict of interest for the White House (considering Ivanka is still operating a handful of the family's business practices) is unclear.
Reporters are noticing Ivanka's controversial presence at a handful of important meetings, including at a discussion with Al Gore on climate change and at a session with Japanese diplomats. With Melania staying back in New York City, many speculate that Ivanka will wind up handling a lot of the duties traditionally relegated to the First Lady. The ramifications of this new alignment of power are unclear.
Included in the First Lady's duties are a handful of passion projects which sometimes extrapolate on that individual's history of philanthropy. Melania had already stated her intention to combat cyberbullying (this can be easily abandoned, though, considering it was both immensely ironic for obvious reasons and presented without any coherent plan of action). No to mention, she had an opportunity to do so and failed. If Ivanka winds up in Melania's place (sorry for the awkwardly Freudian undertones here, again) will she engage with a similar cause?
On women's issues specifically, many are dubious: “I don’t think it’s useful to denigrate the image she projects as a working woman and as a mother and a wife, but there are limits to it,” said Faye Wattleton, the former president of Planned Parenthood. “It’s easy to talk about self-help when you have access to the best medical care in the world by virtue of your birth. It’s not so easy when you can’t earn a living wage and you have children to support. And we have not heard her speak out on those hard survival issues.”
Ivanka's effectiveness as a politician is being both praised and warned against: “They’re ideal politicians,” said Peter Davis, a society journalist, of her and her husband Jared Kushner. “Because you come away from any interaction thinking they’re great and nice and don’t have any deeper feeling about them.”
“People think that because she’s polished and well spoken, that she isn’t like him,” countered conservative talking head Anne Coulter. “I think she is more dangerous because she is more polished.”
"Ivanka is more than a first daughter and more than a first lady: She is her father's most effective public defender and she humanizes him in a way Melania cannot ... The Trumps' social secretary will have to take the lead and have final say on guest lists and china patterns," writes CNN's Kate Andersen Brower. "But there has never been a first daughter who was also a serious political adviser -- and certainly not like this, where the lines of business interest, of politics, and of diplomacy are so thoroughly blurred between family and the West Wing."
What this says about the psychology of the First Family is another story entirely. Just try not to think too hard about this picture:
[Photo: Getty Images]