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The behind-the-scenes complicity of Ivanka Trump

Until Ivanka Trump's interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning which aired this past Wednesday, it was unclear what Ms. Trump's role in the White House actually involves, other than possession of a top-level security clearance, attendance at multiple high-level meetings and the occupation of a coveted West Wing office.

Now, at least we know that a large part of Ms. Trump's position is, as she presents it, the White House's "Oh, Dad!"-er In Chief.

"I speak up frequently. And my father agrees with me on so many issues. And where he doesn't, he knows where I stand," Ms. Trump assured Ms. King.

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"Can you give us – " Ms. King said.

"It's not my administration," Ms. Trump responded, all but adding an "I just work here."

Specifics, it seems, are for little people.

Ms. King's curiosity in this matter is understandable. Throughout the election and beyond, Ivanka Trump was bandied about as Team Trump's token-but-highly-influential moderate, a lady moderate, no less. Ms. Trump was, we were to understand, the modern young woman who made it okay to vote for the guy who boasted of being able to "Grab 'em by the pussy."

It was insinuated, often by Ivanka herself, that she would, in some behind-the-scenes old-fashioned daughterly way, keep her dad in line, at least as far as it came to issues such as women's health care.

"Do not be alarmed by Mr. Trump's plan to defund Planned Parenthood and his apparent openness to penalizing women who choose to have an abortion," Americans were essentially told. "This man is not American Ceausescu. For he has a girl-child! A New York girl-child!" But, months in, it is difficult – in all the actions, failed actions and in the stated agenda of Donald Trump's team – to find a shred of a policy that might conceivably have been influenced by the kind of character Ivanka Trump has been attempting to play.

What is increasingly clear about most of the Trump family members is that even though they are collectively attempting to run the United States now, they seem to share an expectation that the media will continue to write the same kind of puff-piece, brand-promoting, semi-fawning stories about them as they have mostly seen go to print – only now there should be more of them.

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The assumption seems to have been that, having achieved office, an entire library of in-flight magazine prose should be devoted to the Trumps. Even remotely hardball questions are characterized by the family and their supporters as way out of bounds.

"I put it into trust. I have independent trustees," Ms. Trump said waspishly when asked the should-have-seen-it-coming-like-a big-soft-beach-ball question about the current status of her business.

That would be the same business that issued an e-mail Style Alert drawing reporters' attention to the sight of "Ivanka Trump wearing her favourite bangle from the Metropolis Collection on 60 Minutes," brazenly hawking a $10,800 (U.S.) diamond bracelet.

"But the trustees are family members, right? Your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law?" said Ms. King, on behalf of sentient life everywhere.

"They are," Ms. Trump said, "But they're completely independent. And I'm transparent about that."

Well, thanks, Ms. Trump, that didn't even attempt the smell test.

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Is Ivanka trying to tell us that she acknowledges that her family members are in fact members of her family? Are we meant to be impressed by this remarkable display of honesty? (Although, to be fair, I'm not sure I'd cop to Eric.)

"I'd like the perks of power, hold the accountability," is the gist of all Trump family communications.

"I think you have a lot of negativity in these questions," Ms. Trump responded brittly to a reporter for Cosmopolitan who, back in September, 2016, had the temerity to ask if same-sex couples would be beneficiaries of a President Trump-designed family-leave plan. "I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that," Ivanka chided.

It was as though the question had been tossed at her by her yoga instructor midway through her attempt to nail King Pigeon pose.

Certainly, subjected to that reasonable question, Ivanka Trump – who, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, have been billed as allies of the LGBT community – couldn't get the gays under the bus fast enough, and never let it be forgotten how very hard they worked to get that bus on the road.

Forget Donald Trump (if only we could). If you help put Mike "same-sex-marriage-will-cause-'societal-collapse'" Pence one angry orange heartbeat away from the presidency, you are not a friend of the gays.

You don't get to swan about wearing the moderating-influence hat now.

Last week, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era policies protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination in the workplace.

"Wait a second!" I hear you cry. "Is that not the very policy that – according to several sources said to be close to the couple – Jared and Ivanka stepped in to ensure stayed in place but a month or so ago?"

This really doesn't bode well for Jared's next little project bringing peace to the Middle East.

That particular bit of PR leakage on the couple's behalf occurred a mere few weeks before the Trump administration walked back the compassionate steps taken by the previous government aimed at giving transgender students the right to pee in peace and safety in their schools.

Jared and Ivanka were, it seems, getting the word out that they are the great straight saviours! Anonymously sourced word is, they're working selflessly to ensure they won't be ostracized at New York parties in years to come. It's just all pretty hush-hush.

"I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence," Ms. Trump told Ms. King. "I think most of the impact I have, over time most people will not actually know about," she elaborated.

What this means is "Trust me, trust that I'm doing good things, even though I've no particular record of doing good things or of causing good things to happen and no good is in fact being done."

Put another way: You might not guess that Ivanka Trump heroically prevented you and your family from being eaten alive in the Great Badger Uprising of 2017, but just think about it. Have the world's badgers risen up to overthrow humanity? No, no, they haven't. So why do so many of you have to keep asking hostile questions, you ungrateful (and uneaten-by-badgers) masses?

Just say "Thanks, Ivanka," because she's right, we may never know. She's working behind the scenes, maybe under the ground.

Try and allow Ms. Trump's possible work on some possibly once-imminent but now thwarted incursion by man-eating, short-legged omnivores in the family mustelidae to put in perspective the actual cuts to childhood education and health-and-safety enforcement that just went down under Mr. Trump.

Think of Ivanka's mysterious good works, the ones she is smugly evoking – not the fact that the United States just eliminated funds for the United Nations Population Fund, a severe blow to global maternal and infant health, or the fact that Mr. Trump is engaged in the wholesale dismantling of environmental protections, or any of the other things that Ivanka, by opportunistically shilling for her dad, helped and will help make happen.

"I don't know that the critics who may say that of me, if they found themselves in this very unique and unprecedented situation that I am now in, would do any differently than I'm doing," Ms. Trump informed Wednesday morning's television audience. But of course she hasn't just "found" herself where she is. She clawed her way there and the gormless Arthur Dent act is a bit much to take.

Mr. Trump is sitting in the Oval Office with an approval rating so low that if it drops three more points he'd consider dating it, and if you helped put him there, you have to own that.

"I don't know what it means to be complicit," Ivanka Trump told Ms. King when asked about this now oft-made allegation.

Well, let me and the New Oxford American Dictionary help you out there, Ivanka. Complicity: "the state of being involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing," from the Middle English, complice, an associate. Compare with accomplice. You're welcome.

"If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I'm complicit," Ivanka added. To which I can only say: If being complicit means being equal to the square root of the sum of the squares of sides a and b, then I'm the hypotenuse of a triangle. Because why not?

Opinion: Saunders: GOP failure in Congress is derailing of Trump train (The Globe and Mail)
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