Sunday, July 24, 2016

An appreciation of Ivanka from Britain

The Trump campaign is absolutely right to concentrate their convention publicity on Donald as a person, as a fine character, as an admirable man with the runs already on the board.  People rarely vote for detailed policies.  They vote for the man who sounds broadly right and whom they like as a  person.  They vote for the man, not the platform.  And Ivanka  pushed that strategy along enormously -- JR.

Last night was the big night at the Republican National Convention. It was the night most people had been waiting for. A night to hear the star of the show telling the watching world how to Make America Great Again. The noise from the crowds showed Trump didn't disappoint.

The surprising thing? The Trump in question wasn’t Donald, it was Ivanka. The 34 year old mum-of-three stole the show. She won the audience in the arena and at home.

On Google there were more searches for Ivanka than for Donald. On Twitter there were 121 tweets mentioning a Ivanka a minute, positive beating negative 3:1.

As I sat watching her, prepared to curl my toes and cringe at a this strange perfect princess, I was suddenly on my feet, applauding with the boys.

I was wrong.  She was outstanding.

I realised, the next woman in the White House might not be Hillary Clinton. It may well be Ivanka Trump. And not because she is a woman, but because she is a worker.

She stole all of Hillary's best material. Not as blatantly as Melania - which became the story of the early week. But with authenticity, gained from her role as mother of three.

She had a baby just a few weeks ago. I thought she might milk that, in the way new mums love to crow about childbirth like they are warriors fresh from the maternity suite, competing to win the gore-fest.  I should have known better. Ivanka was up looking immaculate, doing the school run three days later.

She is a true professional, not playing the woman card transparently - like Hillary. Rather dealing a perfect flush, with poise and purpose.

Her single focus - supporting her father. Her critical mission - showing why women matter, especially to him. And how women will help make America Great Again. She doesn't buy into Clinton's mantra 'I'm with her'. She's there to say to Millennials 'He's backing us'.  And she did it with aplomb.

Before you tut tut and tell me it's easy for a rich kid, she acknowledged she has been more privileged than most.

And I'd argue the Trump kids have turned out to be surprisingly normal, given the nonsense that comes with vast amounts of money.

Running her own business, supporting her family of three and travelling the country for her father's campaign, I suspect there is more hard work and sleepless nights than pamper days in a salon.

She is part of the Family Meeting every morning, agreeing on campaign strategy and spending. And is everywhere on the campaign trail, fast becoming the face everyone wants on their selfie.

She spoke about equal pay for woman, reminding the floor her fathers' company employs more female executives than males, that women with children will be supported not shut out.

She was ripping carpet right out under Clinton's feet. Stealing her lines. Fronting up to claims he is a misogynist or racist with facts about the Trump business.  'He will fight for equal pay for equal work. He is colour-blind and gender neutral'.

At times, she was too liberal for me, too democratic, suggesting the government should offer more help with childcare. Ask British employers what they think about that country’s generous maternity pay that can see mothers take up to a year off.

Having said that, America offers just six weeks unpaid maternity leave, making parents not employers solely responsible for the decision and cost of having a baby.

Importantly Ivanka spoke of equal pay for equal work, not equal pay for all...a subtle but important differentiation. We do not all work equally hard.  She spoke of equitable pay.

Ivanka only switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican late last year, missing the deadline to cast her ballot in the April 19 primary and vote for her father.  But last night, she made up for that and more.

As a mum-of-three, on the cusp of losing them to their teenage years, I see success quite differently than I did before. Success is families which still like each other, still want to be together on holiday or for dinner - through choice not obligation.

Success to me is your grown up children being with you because they want to, despite all the other offers on the table. And Trump has succeeded here.

Despite three marriages, some pretty strange looking family photos and five children competing for attention, he has a family that genuinely seem to like each other.

The cynic in me had laughed at their pictures, imagining them all loathing their step-mum, her face frozen in time. And pitying the grown man called Donald Junior, inheriting his dad's name and the catalogue of mockery that goes with it.  But I am happy to acknowledge I was wrong. I was the cynic.

Ivanka reminded us 'if it is possible to be famous and not known at all, that's my dad'. She showed us a side previously unseen.

His kids don't just still talk to him, they speak up for him, supporting the dad they love. I suspect they spend Christmas with him because they want to, and that's the best compliment for which any parent could wish.

They made Trump human. Sharing stories of calling him from school, inside the janitor closet. But a man who had high expectations for them from the off.

When she was little he told her, 'since your going to be thinking anyway, you may as well be thinking big'. And even their harshest critics had only good things to say.

If this Republican Convention showed us anything, it showed us Donald Trump has an impressive set of kids, acknowledging their privilege, but working hard to deliver on the expectation that comes with it.

Ivanka reminded the massive crowds her father sees the struggles faced by middle-class America. "Other politicians see these hardships, see the unfairness of it all, and they say I feel for you. Only my father will say, I’ll fight for you".

And she reminded them UK's be right there, fighting alongside him, for women.

At the Republican Convention it seemed a new political dynasty was born. Like JFK before him, Donald Trump managed to come out on the side of the little guy. A rich man who stands shoulder to shoulder with the bricklayer. A family man with grown children who want to be with him. A famous man who remains strangely unknown. A blue collar billionaire with a big heart.

One man, a Republican delegate in Cleveland, carried a placard all week around the convention that read: 'Ivanka, 2024. First Female President'.  After last night, he didn't seem quite so mad after all


UPDATE:  Ivanka did of course look gorgeous.  So it is no wonder  that the dress she wore -- from her own fashion collection -- is now sold out nationwide!


Notes From Cleveland: The Two-Part Rebellion

Sore loser Ted Cruz destroys his own political future

Charles Krauthammer

The main purpose of the modern political convention is to produce four days of televised propaganda. The subsidiary function, now that nominees are invariably chosen in advance, is structural: Unify the party before the final battle. In Cleveland, the Republicans achieved not unity, but only a rough facsimile.

The internal opposition consisted of two factions. The more flamboyant was led by Ted Cruz. Its first operation — an undermanned, underplanned, mini-rebellion over convention rules — was ruthlessly steamrolled on Day One. Its other operation was Cruz’s Wednesday night convention speech in which, against all expectation, he refused to endorse Donald Trump.

It’s one thing to do this off-site. It’s another thing to do it as a guest at a celebration of the man you are rebuking.

Cruz left the stage to a cascade of boos, having delivered the longest suicide note in American political history. If Cruz fancied himself following Ronald Reagan in 1976, the runner-up who overshadowed the party nominee in a rousing convention speech that propelled him four years later to the nomination, he might reflect on the fact that Reagan endorsed Gerald Ford.

Cruz’s rebellion would have a stronger claim to conscience had he not obsequiously accommodated himself to Trump during the first six months of the campaign. Cruz reinforced that impression of political calculation when, addressing the Texas delegation Thursday morning, he said that “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” That he should feel so is not surprising. What is surprising is that he said this publicly, thus further undermining his claim to acting on high principle.

The other faction of the anti-Trump opposition was far more subtle. These are the leaders of the party’s congressional wing who’ve offered public allegiance to Trump while remaining privately unreconciled. You could feel the reluctance of these latter-day Marranos in the speeches of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

McConnell’s pitch, as always, was practical and direct. We’ve got things to achieve in the Senate. Obama won’t sign. Clinton won’t sign. Trump will.

Very specific, very instrumental. Trump will be our enabler, an instrument of the governing (or if you prefer, establishment) wing of the party.

This is mostly fantasy and rationalization, of course. And good manners by a party leader obliged to maintain a common front. The problem is that Trump will not allow himself to be the instrument of anyone else’s agenda. Moreover, the Marranos necessarily ignore the most important role of a president, conducting foreign and military policy abroad, which is almost entirely in his hands.

Ryan was a bit more philosophical. He presented the reformicon agenda, dubbed the Better Way, for which he too needs a Republican in the White House. Ryan pointedly kept his genuflections to the outsider-king to a minimum: exactly two references to Trump, to be precise.

Moreover, in defending his conservative philosophy, he noted that at its heart lies “respect and empathy” for “all neighbors and countrymen” because “everyone is equal, everyone has a place” and “no one is written off.” Not exactly Trump’s Manichaean universe of winners and losers, natives and foreigners (including judges born and bred in Indiana).

Together, McConnell and Ryan made clear that if Trump wins, they are ready to cooperate. And if Trump loses, they are ready to inherit.

The loyalist (i.e., Trumpian) case had its own stars. It was most brilliantly presented by the ever-fluent Newt Gingrich, the best natural orator in either party, whose presentation of Trumpism had a coherence and economy of which Trump is incapable.

Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence gave an affecting, self-deprecating address that managed to bridge his traditional conservatism with Trump’s insurgent populism. He managed to make the merger look smooth, even natural.

Rudy Giuliani gave the most energetic loyalist address, a rousing law-and-order manifesto, albeit at an excitement level that surely alarmed his cardiologist.

And Chris Christie’s prosecutorial indictment of Hillary Clinton for crimes of competence and character was doing just fine until he went to the audience after each charge for a call-and-response of “guilty or not guilty.” The frenzied response was a reminder as to why trials are conducted in a courtroom and not a coliseum.



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