Ivanka Trump’s new book, “Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success,” is a healthy veggie platter of worthy bites of wisdom from some 200 other people: Socrates, Jeff Bezos, Ram Dass, Edith Wharton, the Dalai Lama and, hey, my friend Mary C. Curtis, from whose 2012 Washington Post column about “Leaning In” she quotes: “The secret is there is no secret — just doing the best with what you’ve got.”
Like the author herself, the first daughter and White House adviser’s advice book is the literary equivalent of easy listening music — and I did like the part about color-coded to-do lists. Ignore the exclamation points and it’s completely untroubling, as long as you don’t give it too much thought.
No question German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an actual “smart cookie,” was right to invite the president’s favorite child to Berlin; no one has the access to him that she does. Donald Trump has publicly identified her as his conscience, tweeting in defense of her business interests, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
The beating she and her book are taking on her father’s favorite platform is so predictably inhumane that I’d love to be able to defend her. And we do need her to succeed in her role, which seems as much as anything to be calming her flighty father. In fact, I kind of wish she’d move into the White House to be a moderating influence on a more full-time basis and maybe even get him to take up Transcendental Meditation, which she says has made her far more productive.
Politically, Ivanka’s own views reportedly aren’t that set. But it was she, the New York Times reported, who got him to praise Planned Parenthood as a candidate, and she who thought she’d come up with a solution to the endless political wars over the country’s largest abortion provider: What if the group were broken in two, the abortion business divorced from its other functions? Which, oh, would be like asking the Catholic Church to separate out the Jesus-y parts of its work. “Planned Parenthood officials said they thought Ms. Trump’s advice was naive,” the Times said, “failing to understand how central reproductive choice was to the group’s mission.”
Having just taken in all 212 pages of her curated advice, I can’t offer unqualified sisterly support, but I do have a few suggestions for her in return: You can continue to promote your companies, as you do throughout this book, or you can help your father run the world. But doing both is not ethical, and it has to stop. Help your father understand why as president, waging a Twitter war upholding the honor of your fashion line is never in style.
The Ivanka Trump brand is really being the good Trump, the Jiminy Cricket of the family. So Jiminy, do your job. Nepotism is one thing, but kleptocracy is another, and nothing could be more off-brand than the current strong impression that this is all ka-ching ka-ching.
Maybe when Dad is inviting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who brags about killing people with his own hands, to the White House, it has nothing to do with the strongman’s control over Trump businesses there. Same with his hearty congratulations to the power-grabbing, increasingly anti-democratic Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. (Yes, he’s also flattered as a “smart cookie” North Korea’s plain insane Kim Jong Un, despite the lack of any known Trump development deals in Pyongyang, but I wouldn’t go with that as a talking point.)
Instead, read to him from Page 50, where you correctly note “perception is often more important than reality. … Taking extra care to consider how your intention might be interpreted is essential.” If that worked, “Women Who Work” would be the book of the year.