Some might argue that Ivanka Trump has been getting more ink than she deserves. After all, she does not have a formal position in the new administration. She’s just the wife of a senior White House adviser. Yet whenever Ivanka is her father’s subject du jour, it’s instructive. She’s a litmus test on just how far the president will go to get his way on issues of very little importance to governing.
This week’s presidential boil-over—concerning Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka’s label—showed us that, even while the president is reportedly uninterested in anything but the simplest of policy discussions, he is more than eager to jump in when the issue touches family—and, more important, family money. The public’s boycott of Ivanka’s fashion line, Ivanka Trump™, may be the only thing about which Trump has ever felt remorse: His political success has become her business problem, if not yet her business failure. Hence his Wednesday tweet rebuking Nordstrom. And, possibly, hence Kellyanne Conway’s Fox appearance a day later, hawking Ivanka’s wares, while speaking from the White House.
Nordstrom is not the only retailer that has dropped Ivanka’s stuff, although it is the largest; as of today, only two Ivanka items are for sale on the Nordstrom website: two sad little pairs of shoes, flat black pumps (the pink ones are sold out), and red high-heeled ankle straps. They are steeply discounted.
In a sense, Ivanka deserves it. She was already prepared at the GOP convention to use the political pulpit for personal promotion rather than policy. Though she made a nice speech, we discovered that the central lesson she learned from her presence there—and from her ensuing heightened popularity—was that being seen on a national stage could be lucrative. It turned out what we were witnessing that day was not the emergence of a new, young leader of the soft-right, as she was portrayed at that moment, but rather, quite simply, a model pimping a little pink dress. The next morning at 7:12 am Ivanka, having barely hung the dress up in her closet and moved on to a new Ivanka Trump™ outfit, tweeted a link to the purchase page for the convention dress on the Macy’s website (Macy’s is still selling PDOTUS’s line). For Ivanka, the convention stage was not a place to begin a political campaign but instead a platform to move forward with a business campaign.
And Trump, too, sees his political ascendancy that way (although he does not wear a little pink dress). We’ve seen this in instances too numerous to mention, most notably his recent banning of travelers from seven Muslim nations, none of which are countries where his company has business interests. While the president is spewing and caviling and spurting all over Twitter about unimportant things like the terrible, unfair Nordstrom, people like Jeff Sessions, Tom Price (2:11 am confirmation), and others are taking over the reins of government.