opinion

Coupling

Dear Ivanka and Jared, This Is Your Plan For 2018

They began 2017 as the liberal hope of the Trump White House, but 'Javanka' end the year with the Russia scandal close to home, and a lack of tangible purpose to their lives.

opinion

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Dear Javanka,

I know you’re not particularly fond of this portmanteau, “Javanka,” since the name-blending moniker was dreamed up by your longtime foe Steve Bannon.

But few things have brought me as much cheer in 2017 than this nickname for you, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. It sounds somewhat like the name of a Disney villain, and it’s much more fun than “Democrats,” another nickname courtesy of Bannon’s faction in the White House.

A portmanteau like Javanka seems especially appropriate given the extent to which you failed to impress Washington’s elite. They see the First Couple, or the deputy First Couple, as a single entity--“persona non grata” in D.C., as Vanity Fair put it recently.

Indeed you’ve weathered a lot together since this time last year, when you were gearing up for President Trump’s inauguration.

Democrats found you intriguing, Ivanka, when you managed to arrange a meeting with Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and your father to discuss climate change.

Surely she’ll convince him not to pull out of the Paris climate accord, they assured themselves, before he did just that last June. Surely Ivanka will have some sway over the president when it comes to her pet issues, like equal pay and maternity leave, they told themselves in vain, then wept into their soup when President Trump rolled back Obama-era equal-pay protections in April.

Before you proved to be a wholly ineffective advocate, Ivanka, you gave these sheeple a glimmer of hope. During the campaign you successfully presented the measured case for Trumpism, free of profanities, superlatives, and bigotry. Turns out you swear like a sailor behind closed doors, according to your father’s erstwhile chief strategist, and you’re too cowardly to take responsibility for your inability to sway your father when it comes to policy.

Or maybe you don’t care enough about these issues to advocate for them beyond posing photos of yourself with children to promote STEM education. We know you’ve worked hard to persuade the public and associates in the White House that you’re focusing on issues like STEM, job creation, paid family leave, women’s empowerment, and child-care tax credits.

We know you think people should only judge you based on the success or failure of these issues rather than, say, your father’s decision to ban transgender troops from serving in the military.

Evidently it was “unrealistic” to expect you to influence your father on policy other than as it pertains to your pet issues. Shame, then, that you have no policy accomplishments whatsoever under your belt as a senior White House advisor, beyond convincing the World Bank to start a fund for women entrepreneurs. You’ve earned due credit for this. So what if you have no role in managing that fund?

And Jared: You were also supposed to be a moderating force in the White House. You’re the eldest son in a family of prominent Democrats, and you and Ivanka used to hobnob with limousine liberals in New York City.

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So you were given the benefit of the doubt when the president made you a senior advisor in his cabinet, despite anti-nepotism laws and potential conflicts of interest. Your father was a crook and you were politically ignorant, but you looked saint-like compared to Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller and Michael Flynn.

But looks can be deceiving. Because here we are, a year since Trump’s inauguration, and you’re ensnared in a political catastrophe. You’re a key suspect in Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had any connection with Russian efforts to influence the election in your father-in-law’s favor.

You need no reminder that the last days of 2017 have been especially rough for you, Jared.

The same week that Bannon threw you under the bus for making it appear as if Putin had helped Trump–that you “met with the Russians to get additional stuff”–Bloomberg reported that you were the “very senior member” exposed in Flynn’s plea bargain who ordered him to arrange a meeting with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records about your family’s real estate business, and you and Ivanka were jointly sued for failing to disclose assets from 39 investment funds on your federal financial disclosure form.

Maybe some of this stuff is just bad optics. But if that’s the case, why has your lawyer been shopping for a “crisis public relations firm” in recent weeks?

You know more about all of this than us, Javanka, but 2017 was a complete disaster for you. And you’re not blameless, despite Ivanka’s “I didn’t ask for this!” refrain whenever she’s criticized for being complicit or lumped in with the swamp.

If 2018 is going to be any better for Team Javanka, you’d both do well to be less disingenuous.

Ivanka, we know you will not publicly disagree with your father because it would telegraph a message that you’re “not part of the team” or whatever.

We know you’ll never admit that you were in fact "complicit," just as SNL so deliciously, and pointedly, parodied.

If you ever have to confront the “complicit” charge in an interview again, don’t pretend like you don’t know what the goddamn word means. You’ll continue to get away with a lot of bullshit, but you won’t get away with that one next year, since “complicit” was declared one of 2017’s words of the year.

Next time your father signs an executive order banning travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, don’t publicize your glitzy life on Instagram as if nothing happened.

You could also apologize next time you make a screw-up, rather than have “sources close to Ivanka” tell the media that you felt bad about it.

We know you’re well-versed in platitudes and that you’re accustomed to saying a lot about nothing, but maybe you should take a page out of your father’s book and tell it like it is, for once.

There’s no sense pretending that you want to help the American people and make the world a better place. I’m not sure why we entertained the idea that Javanka might be our country’s salvation during the Trump presidency. If it were true, you would have likely shown more interest in public service before arriving at the White House.

Even if a part of you does genuinely care about advocating for women’s issues, Ivanka, beyond your vague interest in promoting “women’s empowerment,” you didn’t make any friends in Washington by assuming you were just as qualified to affect change as people who have spent their entire lives advocating for the same issues.

Remember when you tried to be a middleman between Planned Parenthood and Republicans who wanted to strip the organization of federal funding?

You thought your deal-making skills as a businesswoman would apply here, so your surrogates went to the organization with a proposal that the White House would increase their federal funding if they stopped performing abortions, according to Vanity Fair. Easy as that!

Except Planned Parenthood turned it down, for obvious reasons.

You’re going to have to try harder than you did last year if you want to convince people that you’re not just your father in a millennial pink shift dress, as my colleague Erin Ryan put it.  

Each of your attempts to distinguish yourself from your father’s bigotry in the last twelve months--your pro-LGBTQ tweet ahead of the transgender military ban; your denunciation of white supremacy after Charlottesville--only highlighted the extent to which you’re "complicit."

No one cares much about what you say anymore, since you evidently don’t have as much influence (if any at all) over your father as some of us hoped. They care about what you do.

That said, here’s one last bit of advice: if you’re not going to do anything, get out of there--for your sake more than ours.

Move your brood to Alaska for a few years. It may be hard to imagine, but isolation may be more appealing if Jared ends up in prison. Rescue your faux feminist brand while there’s still time, before even the most apolitical among us turn on you.

Steve Bannon is certainly right about one thing: the hobbits and deplorables are not Javanka’s demographic.

Cheers,

Lizzie