For those of us who have found it difficult to say anything nice about Donald Trump, here’s something: He clearly is a family man. No, that is not a joke about any of the mafia associations he inevitably accumulated during his rough-and-tumble construction days in New York and elsewhere. Nor is it a snarky comment about his cavalier approach to his various marriages. That’s his business.
It’s about Trump’s obviously intense affection for his children and, in the case of his daughter Ivanka, her husband. He brought son-in-law Jared Kushner onto his White House team, even though the kid has no experience whatsoever. He has delegated to him the responsibility of being the Trump administration fixer, the one who smoothes things over when needed — which is most of the time. And, he can be the one to stab someone in the back when the spirit moves him.
Most significantly, even though Kushner has never had any exposure to the world of diplomacy, he’s the one who will oversee attempts to resolve the constantly explosive Israeli-Palestinian impasse. If that isn’t nepotism, it is certainly a father-in-law’s expression of loving trust for those in the Trump brood.
In Ivanka’s case, Donald Trump truly is a daughter-doter. We fathers of daughters can relate (pardon the pun) to that. Still, without a doubt, the president has taken it too far. Ivanka’s companies include those with a line of jewelry and other products. The department-store chain Nordstrom decided to cut her brand from its sales lineup. That might understandably upset any indulgent dad, but this dad is the chief executive of the nation.
So when Daddy heard that his little girl’s products were removed from Nordstrom’s roster, he went to Twitter, his favorite weapon, to bludgeon the chain: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
Not only that, but the next day he dispatched his most successful apologist, Kellyanne Conway, to not only defend him but to offend ethics rules. On Fox News, she got in touch with her inner QVC: “‘Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,’ is what I would say,” she said, speaking from the White House. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”
Not only was that kind of crass, but it almost certainly crossed the legal ethical line. After a mini uproar, the president’s other shill — at least for the moment — press secretary Sean Spicer, said that Kellyanne had been “counseled” for her hucksterism. It was not made clear what that entailed. But a couple of days later, it was announced that she was getting her own chief of staff — a sign of increased status.
Not that Trump’s assault accomplished what he wanted, this time. Nordstrom’s stock has risen. Those who oppose him are making it a point to shop there, to the extent that competitors are announcing that they, too, will cut the Ivanka stuff. So this time, President Donald’s bullying didn’t work. Still, at least he was showing love for his family. Now if we could get him to care about anyone else …
© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Synd.