Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—or Javanka, as some terrible person has dubbed them—moved to Washington, D.C. eight months ago certain they’d become America’s preeminent power couple. Turns out that vision was clouded by an inability to see beyond their own cloistered versions of reality.
“It’s clear that, after an initial period of awe at the sheer power of their positions, Jared and Ivanka have been stung by the vitriol directed at them,” Sarah Ellison writes in a lengthy piece on the pair in the October issue of Vanity Fair. “D.C. punctures their self-esteem on a daily basis.”
The Kushner-Trumps, according to the many Washington insiders Ellison interviewed, are shocked that they have earned (emphasis on earned) the same disdain as the president they serve. Ivanka and Jared are reportedly suffering from a case of the sads that might make you pity them until you remember they are entirely complicit in the horrors of this administration.
Here are eight reasons Jared and Ivanka are as despicable as anyone in Trump’s White House.
1. They’re kind of jerks.
She’s the daughter of a billionaire narcissist and pathological liar whose previous claim to fame was firing people on national television. He’s the son of a billionaire who tried to avoid jail on corruption charges by framing a witness (who also happened to be his brother-in-law) using a surreptitiously recorded sexual encounter with a prostitute he “personally recruited” for the job. Who would ever guess these two lovestruck billion-dollar babies, who have chosen to support and serve an unabashed kleptocrat, would be anything but pleasant and trustworthy? Surprisingly, they’re not, according to insiders.
“She tries to charm you at first, and then there’ll be the cutting remark in front of her father,” a former adviser told Ellison about Ivanka. Ellison writes that though Kushner “tries to be casual and jokes with other staffers, [he] can have even more of an edge.” When reportedly asked by the former chief-of-staff what Kushner and his small team were working on, Jared responded, “Reince, we aren’t getting paid. What the f**k do you care?”
Ellison also notes that “Kushner and Ivanka have complicitly engaged in Trump’s humiliation of various staffers, be it West Wing aides [Steve] Bannon, Priebus, and Kellyanne Conway, or Cabinet members such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
2. Ivanka has a nickname she definitely didn’t choose herself.
Ellison notes that “‘Princess Royal’ is a term that some West Wing advisers apply to her, though never to her face.”
3. Their inflated sense of self-importance, lack of political experience and inability to recognize either have made them almost universally disliked in Washington.
Ivanka and Kushner have lengthy resumes that display their commitment to upholding the long-honored institution of nepotism. What they do not have is any political experience other than what they’re gaining right now in yet another position bestowed upon them by one of their rich dads. In a political town like D.C., according to “one Washington veteran” Ellison spoke with, the right thing to do when the couple arrived would have been to “take a seat a little off to the side, at least until they get their bearings.” But according to that same source, Kushner and Ivanka are bereft of the “necessary self-awareness [to] understand how to behave when you roll into Washington as the creature of someone else.”
“What is off-putting about them is they do not grasp their essential irrelevance,” the source told Ellison. “They think they are special.”
4. Their inexperience is apparent in their efforts.
Ivanka and Kusher met with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for an informational interview about the organization. Ellison describes the meeting as “cordial,” and while no formal promises were made, Ivanka had imagined she would ultimately emerge as “a kind of referee between the Republicans clamoring to defund Planned Parenthood and the organization itself.” For years, the GOP has been gunning for Planned Parenthood—which provides a huge range of health care services to 2.4 million men, women and teens every year—but Ivanka didn’t seem to understand the politics at play. After a Republican health care bill proposed defunding the organization entirely, Ivanka suggested to Richards that Planned Parenthood “stop offering abortions and the White House would advocate increased funding” for its offices around the country.
When Richards declined the offer, Ivanka’s surrogates attempted to go over her head, pitching the same politically unworkable idea to board members. “It completely backfired,” an observer of the process told Ellison. “It wasn’t just naïve from a Planned Parenthood perspective. It was naïve that the Republican House would have accepted it, because it would have meant keeping Planned Parenthood open.”
In a dig at Ivanka, Richards later stated that every member of the Trump team “is responsible for addressing why women are in the crosshairs of basically every single policy that we’ve seen out of this administration.”
5. They have no real pull in the White House.
Whether through lack of effort or sheer ineffectiveness, Ivanka and Kushner have proven they will not be “moderating influences” in the Trump White House. Ellison points to a Politico report that says Ivanka found out about her father’s transgender military ban via Twitter. Each of Kushner and Ivanka’s failures to influence Trump’s agenda, from climate change to LGBT rights, has raised the volume of critical voices. “You can’t prevent him from trying to defund Planned Parenthood or getting out of the Paris Agreement?” a political consultant remarked rhetorically, echoing the sentiments of others around D.C. “What are you good for?”
One interviewee suggested the two are really there to serve as emotional soundboards for Ivanka’s father. “Trump is emotionally dependent on his son-in-law and his daughter…but they can’t do anything for him,” one member of Washington’s old guard told Ellison. “All they can do is make him feel better about what his life has come to.”
That means the two are useless to those who once thought they might serve as resources, a discovery which essentially makes their stock as powerbrokers worthless.
“If her main value in Washington is her access to her father and she is unable to sway him, then she is simply a 35-year-old former real-estate and retail executive in over her head,” Ellison writes.
6. They’ve lost “credibility with pro-environment business owners and Silicon Valley executives.”
Ellison notes that on the heels of their numerous failures to impact Trump’s policies, Ivanka has backed away from her advocacy on issues such as climate change, and switched her attention to less politically thorny matters. Her willingness to abandon issues she once claimed to earnestly support has hurt her image with every sane person who opposes her historically unpopular father’s presidency, including eco-minded tech titans and C-suite occupants. Ellison writes:
When Ivanka threw herself into the analysis of the Paris climate accord and the implications of the U.S. pulling out, she talked supportively to Andrew Liveris, chairman and C.E.O. of the Dow Chemical Company, about a letter signed by C.E.O.s urging her father not to abrogate the deal. The ad ran, but Trump pulled out anyway. When Ivanka later tried to distance herself from her own efforts on climate change, the disavowal hurt her credibility with pro-environment business owners and Silicon Valley executives. To them, the episode showed not only her lack of pull with her father but also an unwillingness to stand on principle.
Ivanka now says she has shifted her focus solely to “job creation and women’s empowerment, including paid family leave, child-care tax credits, workforce development, and STEM education,” and insists she “should be judged only on the success or failure of these, not on the broader positions of her father’s administration,” according to Ellison.
7. They are loathed by D.C. society.
In July, reports emerged of Ivanka and Jared enjoying cocktails and canapés in the Hamptons alongside Chuck Schumer and George Soros. The episode seemed like yet more proof that the rich’s first loyalty is to their class, but Ellison spoke to a few dissenting voices. In one instance, Javanka attended a party at the home of Atlantic Media head David Bradley. The “off-the-record dinner” was a moment to do away with soundbites and spin, but the pair apparently stayed on script.
“They were terrible,” Ellison was told by someone who was there, complaining that the duo, “kept to platitudes and pabulum, as they often do in public conversations.”
They also may have lost a few friends from their New York City society circles. Ellison spoke to a Manhattan friend who told her, “I haven’t had anything to do with them since they moved…What am I going to say? ‘What the f**k is wrong with you?’”
But a lot of the sneering and badmouthing is likely going on behind Kushner and Ivanka’s back, as one anecdote seems to show. The couple attended the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley this July, where “the chatter was ‘These people are horrible,’ and this and that, but of course, Jared and Ivanka show up and the air-kissing began.”
Their daughter’s school has also attempted to make nice, especially since a little kid who has no part in this whole thing is involved.
Some parents at the upscale and politically liberal Jewish Primary Day School, where Arabella is enrolled and where former senator Joe Lieberman and former White House chief of staff (and now Chicago mayor) Rahm Emanuel sent their children, are anguished over how to temper their disdain for Arabella’s grandfather while welcoming a blameless six-year-old into their ranks.
8. Their brand is the most important thing to them.
Ellison writes that the two have already planned their escape if Trump’s presidency completely implodes.
“[I]ncreasingly you hear chatter in Washington that Jared and Ivanka won’t last, not because they are at risk of being pushed out, but because they will save themselves from a damaged White House. One well-connected strategist in New York told me that the two were eyeing a move at the end of the school year in 2018. A person close to the couple said they weren’t planning that far ahead. “When they decide it’s more important to protect their own and their children’s reputations than it is to defend their indefensible father’s, that’s a sign the end is near,” one influential Republican donor told me….People close to Kushner and Ivanka say that they have come to Washington for a limited time to work, not make inroads into the social scene, much less put down roots.”
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.