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Numb and Number: What to Make of Ivanka’s Testimony

After her testimony is Ivanka Trump dead to her father? Do they have a deal? Or is she onto her next life? Our media critic Barbara Lippert speculates.

The fourth Jan. 6th commission hearing started yesterday. Aside from the jaw-dropping, emotional testimony from witnesses, it’s a well-paced and expertly produced televisual experience, unlike most Congressional hearings.

But I’m still haunted by that image of Ivanka.

You know, the one from the first hearing, featuring a face that looked like a human sacrifice.

She cultivated a swanky, professional, sexy older sister vibe that mere mortals could never hope to achieve.

Gone was the persona of the fashionable, hyper-groomed, blonde mommy influencer/senior advisor to the President/sometime First Lady/future president that she carefully curated for the last four years. All that time, she cultivated a swanky, professional, sexy older sister vibe that mere mortals could never hope to achieve. The coached, smoky voice and overly enunciated words were gone, too.

Instead, like a ghost on a wanted poster (with the extreme, no-nose visage of an alien, or a Kardashian) she seemed to be trying to evaporate into her own white backdrop.

It was Uncanny Valley for Vanky.

Read More: How Liz Cheney Became the Unlikeliest Hero of the Left

The Kabuki Face

Still, in a pick-a-filter world, Ivanka apparently chose the Kabuki-Faced-Hostage-Video-filter with robotic-vocal-fry audio for her committee interview.

When questioned specifically, the first daughter did manage to croak out, painfully, that she agreed with Attorney General Bill Barr that the 2020 election was not stolen. She said she “respected,” Barr, so she “accepted what he was saying.”

Expressing respect and acceptance for Daddy’s enemy who in the end refused to comply with the Big Lie? No wonder she looked like a Death Eater.

As expected, reaction from Papa T. was swift and twisted.

As expected, reaction from Papa T. was swift and twisted. He took to his Truth Social account to give his erstwhile favorite child a swat. “Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying, Election results,” he wrote, using her last name, which seemed odder than his random capitalization.

“She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!).”

An alternative meaning of “checked out” is “died.”

Is she dead to him? Do they have a deal? Or is she just onto her next life? I felt sorry for Ivanka watching her morph into a creepy AI character on video. But I also realize that the ability to reinvent herself has always been her main strength and survival mechanism. She’s had more cycles than a Maytag.

A New Jarvanka Period

First, she married and had three children with a man who came from his own brand of corrupt real-estate family, who’d jumped to his father’s side while his dad was in prison. Jared was outraged on his behalf and took over the business in his absence. But I never understood the depths of his cocky priggishness before hearing his own video testimony.

With his own version of vocal fry, he testified that he was “too busy with pardons” to listen to White House counsel Pat Cippoloni’s  “whining,” about wanting to resign.

Ivanka didn’t want to “embarrass” her dad.

Kushner might not have an ethics gene, but he’s got masterly instincts for removing himself from the scene of the crime. Reportedly, on the night of the election, Jared turned to his wife in the middle of the night and said, “It’s over. We’re moving to Miami.”

Actually, the escape plan was hatched a while back in their final months in the White House. He claimed as soon as Giuliani got in, he dropped out. And that’s why the House Oversight Committee is now looking into whether Jared used his official position (trying to make peace in the Middle East, among 20 other things) to secure a $2 billion investment in his new private equity firm from a prominent Saudi Arabian wealth fund.

“You can’t make this stuff up” is a cliché, but it’s useful here. If they were so sure they were moving on to get away from the lies, why didn’t they say anything before or after the bloodshed of Jan. 6th?  According to the New York Times, Ivanka didn’t want to “embarrass” her dad, and she even sent a note to her staff telling them to stay strong and fight.

When Pence’s chief of staff asked Jared for help, knowing that the Vice President did not have the authority to overturn the election, Jared replied,  “I’m too busy working on Middle East peace, Marc.”

That’s a favorite cadence of his (see “whining”). It reminds me of that line from “Jaws” “That’s some bad hat, Harry!” Conveniently, Kushner was flying back from the Middle East on Jan. 6th.

Having It Both Ways 

Obviously, Jared wasn’t the only incompetent and staggeringly arrogant guy in the White House. As for his wife, imagine what a mind-fuck it was growing up Trump. Especially when your daddy sends you out in the world to represent a younger, prettier, classier version of himself (Narcissus looking into a pool), but also said publicly that if she weren’t his daughter, he’d probably date her.

Her father sent her out in the world to represent a younger, prettier, classier version of himself.

Ivanka became an expert in having it both ways. She refused to introduce her dad at the rally on the Ellipse—so the job went to another female in the family, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who reportedly got $60,000 for her two and a half minutes on stage. Perhaps she was paid by the decibel.

But let’s look at a few of Ivanka’s past personas. (Ivanka is a nickname, by the way, a Czech diminutive of her given name, the same as her mom, Ivana.)

At the top, let’s note that after her conversion to Judaism for Jared, whose family is Orthodox, and her marriage, she appeared in modest dress and with her head covered, a traditional, proper Orthodox wife for a few months.

My Father/My Boss

Ivana Marie Trump was born in 1981. In 2003 , while a baby-faced 22, the elder Trump fille appeared in a documentary called Born Rich with an array of wild children of the one percent.  I remember thinking at the time that she actually came off the best among the entitled partiers.

Ivanka has always worked to appear level-headed and unspoiled.

Ivanka has always worked to appear level-headed and unspoiled, and poignantly tried to show her common touch, how “normal” her life is. In each of her cycles, she strains to be funny and relatable, but in the end she’s a Trump telling the tales of a psychopath. It’s like feeling sorry for Marilyn Munster.

An example: Ivanka recounted the time when she was “9 or 10, around the time of the divorce.” She said she was walking down Fifth Avenue with her papa and they both saw a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in front of Trump Tower. “I remember my father pointing to him and saying ‘You know, that guy has 8 billion dollars more than me,’ because he was in such extreme debt at that point,” she said. “…It makes me all the more proud of my parents, that they got through that.”

So it’s not at all horrifying that her dad—who never found a contractor he couldn’t stiff nor a debt he couldn’t wangle out of—but nevertheless owned the building, had the incredible insensitivity to compare himself to a homeless man so that he could come off as a martyr. This was at the time he also made headlines with his Marla affair and dumping Ivana, but it’s his incredible resilience that counts!

Never an Apprentice

Let’s move to 2007. Ivanka looks grown up. She’s newly appearing as a judge on The Apprentice in its third season. Trump’s previous on-camera blonde business woman, Carolyn Kepcher, apparently was getting too popular, so he fired her and put in his kids, Ivanka in particular.

It’s often been said that Trump would never have been elected President without the Apprentice and the kid-glove ministerings of producer Mark Burnett.

He was shot with all the trappings of the Presidency, as if he were already on Mount Rushmore, or shown descending from the heavens on the Trump jet while on the phone, like Charlie in Charlie’s Angels, making important executive decisions. He flogged every one of his failing businesses on the show. In one typical scene, Trump ushered the would-be Apprentices through his gilded, rococo Trump Tower penthouse, saying, “I show this apartment to very few people. Presidents. Kings.”

And let us not forget that this reality show was the source of turning his name from a public joke—“The Donald”—into “Mr. Trump,” always said deferentially.

Thus, when he ran for President, he’d already been in millions of people’s living rooms, and they felt as though they knew him. They rabidly respected the fiction built by that reality show. By 2007, the show moved to Los Angeles for a season. And Ivanka was sent on a press tour to promote it.

Going on the Circuit

She was super-flirty on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, a swinging single, bachelor girl version of herself. This incarnation—a wise guy sensibility in alluring female form—was really cringe-worthy. I believe her cocktail dress even had fringe. She came on to her fellow guest, Jeff Goldblum, so hard that he just looked at her, mute and dumbfounded. And clearly the intention was to tell a bunch of funny stories that built the family lore and showed off her own strong character.

“We have a funny dynamic,” she said. “He’s my father and my boss.”

She went on about a Christmas when she was six years old, and her brothers got Legos and she got a Barbie. “I was devastated,” Ivanka, now often likened to a Barbie, said.

“So, I took my brothers’ Legos, and with my mother’s nail glue, I built a model of Trump Tower.” She proudly showed it to her father, she said. And a few days later, he came back to her, saying “You know you built five setbacks. There are only four.” And then she mentioned that her father told Larry King that if his kids ever messed up at work, he’d “fire us like a dog.”

I guess these were the lighthearted moments in her memory. Perhaps she thought this put both herself and pappy in a scrappy, human light. “We have a funny dynamic,” she said. “He’s my father and my boss.”

A Star Turn

Fast forward to July, 2016, and arguably Ivanka’s most spectacular star turn, when she introduced her dad as the Presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention.

Hips swaying in a slim pink sheath (out of her own clothing line), she walked to the podium serenaded by the Beatles’ song “Here Comes the Sun” and a roaring ovation. She held the spotlight for 18 minutes.

And oh, what a golden, cotton-candy world Ivanka spun as the best-spoken of the three children. (Yes, two dumber boys and a smarter girl, just like on Succession.) For starters, she called her dad “color blind and gender neutral.”

What a golden, cotton-candy world Ivanka spun as the best-spoken of the three children.

She was there to soften up moderate Republican women voters and succeeded. Imagine her coming out now and saying that.

She also seemed to have her own agenda in mind when she promised, “As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce,” she said. “And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.”

In an effort to recast an unrepentant racist and misogynist grifter as a champion of working women with a definite progressive vibe, she added, “He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.”

To watch the speech now, at the most regressive time for women in memory, is a lesson in cognitive dissonance. What Barr said about her dad being “detached from reality” goes for his golden daughter, as well. Clearly, even if she wanted to be a moderating force in the White House (which was how she was pitched), she failed miserably.

The brilliant 2017 Saturday Night Live Ivanka perfume commercial parody, “Complicit,” nailed it. Asked later by Gayle King on CBS whether she and Jared were indeed “complicit,” she took her time to give gravity to a a well-rehearsed message: “If being complicit is wanting….to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.”

Mirroring a sociopath sure has its drawbacks.

On January 6th

Still, there are numerous reports that on January 6th, she kept begging her father to call off the mob and release a speech. He finally did tell the crowd to go home, but still managed to tell his favorite little insurrectionist stinkers that they were special and that he loved them.

While idolizing, clinging to, and enabling her dad (some children of extreme narcissists behave this way), Ivanka also developed the “special ethics for people like me” disorder that results in an ability to tell her own lies while smiling.

After a lifetime of cleaning up for their respective fathers, they are now cleaning up for themselves.

As with her dad, licensing her name has always been one of her biggest sources of income. Early in the administration, there was a huge backlash to her flagrant use of her government position to secure foreign trademarks for her IT-branded products—fragrances, handbags, jewelry, shoes and eyewear lines. Faced with a boycott in 2017, she announced that she was shutting these businesses down.

Perhaps “shutting down” meant getting rid of the websites. Because most of these items (made in China) are still selling all over the world and still available on Amazon and other online outlets for Americans.

Now, she and Jared and their three children temporarily live in a duplex condo in Miami as they await the building of their manse on Indian Creek island—a private Florida enclave for billionaires. They bought the property from crooner Julio Iglesias for $24 million.  Yes, of course they did.

After a lifetime of cleaning up for their respective fathers, they are now cleaning up for themselves.

Is another reinvention in the works? She probably still has several rounds to go with her Lear-like father. It’s Freudian, it’s Shakespearean, it’s taking down the country, and he’ll rage on with his projections.

Perhaps Ivanka is numb right now, like the rest of us. And for a couple of minutes on video, she had the resting ghoul face she deserves.

Read More: Racism, Sexism, and Bullying: What Barbara Res Saw Over 18 Years Working for Trump

By Barbara Lippert


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