Ivanka Trump sat beside her father in the boardroom for their hit reality TV show, The Apprentice, during which
Donald Trump would, week by week, one by one, ceremoniously fire contestants until there was one final apprentice chosen by the Trumps, weaned and released by the Trumps, to dine out on a tenuous connection to the Trump brand.
On Thursday, Ivanka, now an official employee in her father’s administration, stood a few feet away from her father as he signed an executive order to increase federal spending on apprenticeship programs. When he entered the room a few minutes earlier, Ivanka followed close behind as governors and Cabinet secretaries and various apprentices waiting behind his podium pushed her closer to the middle of the group, nearer to her father and the center of attention. “I want to thank my daughter, Ivanka, for her leadership,” President Trump said early on in his remarks. “She has worked so hard on this. She understands how important it is.”
Trump père was echoing a number of others who have publicly and repeatedly thanked Ivanka in the last week for her participation in what the White House has dubbed “Workforce Development Week.” In a call last Friday to announce the week’s priorities and schedule,
Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president who has also taken a lead on workforce issues, thanked Ivanka. So did Secretary of Labor
Alexander Acosta. In remarks made from the White House briefing room on Monday, Acosta again praised her, thanking her and mentioning her name five times in the span of about 20 minutes. (This stood out as a particularly apple/tree moment, as it came only moments after President Trump’s full Cabinet went around the room individually thanking him, showering him with acclamation and reminding him of how blessed they were to serve at his behest.)
In the 150-some-odd days since Trump has taken office, Ivanka Trump has been a constant presence. She has accompanied her father on stage at public speeches; she has led or participated in roundtables with business leaders; she has been there by his side as he hosted presidents and prime ministers and followed him on most of his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Rome. But for as often as she has been seen, she has seldom been heard, particularly on many of the issues that have plagued her father’s young administration or in areas in which he has been derided by the New York social and business circles in which she used to travel.
When millions of women marched on her father’s new doorstep during his inaugural weekend, for example, she stayed silent despite the fact that she had come to Washington to advocate on behalf of women. When Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries, Ivanka didn't whisper a peep. When Republicans failed to pass the initial health-care reform legislation her father put his weight behind, she and her family booked it to Aspen for spring break. When he pulled out of the Paris accord—a deal she is said to have urged him to stay in—she was not at work in the West Wing or at the Rose Garden ceremoy but rather observing the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.
Ivanka has chalked this up to a calculated use of her influence. “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” she told CBS’s
Gayle King in an interview earlier this year. “I do think there’s a time for public denouncement. I also think there’s a time for discussion . . . I don’t think that it will make me a more effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly where I disagree.”
This, perhaps, would be more believable if she didn’t so selectively use this strategy. She only quietly uses her voice on issues that don’t suit her image, such as when her father pulls out of a climate-change deal supported by every country apart from Syria and Nicaragua or proposes a budget that would dramatically impact women and children who rely on Medicaid. But when there is the opportunity to tout issues like apprenticeship programs that will train American workers for the jobs of the future, or infrastructure measures that could burnish the brand of the company in which she still holds a stake, she is front and center promoting her role in it all.
“This is honestly what it’s all about. We moved down to Washington. We want to be helpful. We want to do big things, important things, and there’s nothing more important than enabling people,” she said in a live interview Monday morning on Fox and Friends to highlight the work she would be doing for “Workforce Development Week.” Along with giving her an opportunity to talk about the need for the apprenticeship programs the administration, under her leadership, would be pushing for, the hosts of the show also happened to mention her book (Women Who Work) and mention that this must be important to her personally because she had run her own business for years.
In a call with reporters a few days earlier, she ran through all that she and her team had been doing to put this week in place—meeting with C.E.O.s, talking with young graduates and legislators and governors and trade groups—to get a sense of what’s working and what needs to be fixed in order to train the workforce for jobs that employers are actually hiring for. She also mentioned that German Chancellor
Angela Merkel sought her out as a voice on this. “During [her] visit, the chancellor invited me to Germany to participate in the W20 and to tour one of the apprenticeship facilities that’s a best in class model in Berlin, which was a great experience,” she said. “That was very informative to our thinking on the topic.”
When Ivanka did tour the Siemens factory in Berlin, she went floor-by-floor, with dozens of cameras snapping photographs of her in a floral-printed dress and blue suede stilettos made by her eponymous fashion line; she operated a robotic coffee machine and made small talk with students about what they were studying. The visit had the air of a campaign stop mixed with a C.E.O. site visit, tied together with the sense that this was all part of a celebrity reality show in which camera crews and throngs of fans were documenting her every move.
“Workforce Development Week” doesn’t feel much different. The public was getting its first taste of what a post-White House Ivanka Trump could look like—and altogether, it is little shocking. Someone who has spent the last decade creating a brand off her name and work will continue to do so. The trick here, though, is that until her father ran a vitriolic, hate-filled campaign and presided over a scandal-ridden White House, her brand was relatively inoffensive. It was gaudy and gilded and connected to her father’s sundry business practices, sure, but those were surmountable with the right P.R. and marketing strategies. Defusing the stench of a White House connected to federal investigations over ties with Russia, and now possible allegations of obstruction of justice, along with assaults on the environment, health care, and immigration—all within the first few months—will likely be much more difficult, if not nearly impossible.
But Ivanka, the ultimate apprentice of her father, has surely learned the most valuable takeaway from his election by now. He only needed his base, his brand, and a slim, strategic majority in order to win his place in history. Ivanka, too, knows how to leverage the tools and opportunities at her disposal to propel herself to new heights, even if it means trading one base of support for another. Her interview on Fox and Friends selling her accomplishments and priorities, no doubt, is playing well with her new set of customers. That base, for now, isn’t going anywhere.
Source : http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/apprenticeship-week-ivanka-trump-doctrine