You might think of Ivanka Trump as the villainous mastermind of the Trump campaign, the photogenic face of nepotism and corruption on his transition team, the Cersei Lannister to her father’s Tywin—but you’d be wrong. Ivanka Trump is just another clumsy, fallible working mom, muddling through life as best she can, trying to make treats for her kid’s bake sale but haplessly messing them up! At least, that is the message of her most recent tweet, an expertly crafted appeal to every woman who has navigated the impossible demands of modern motherhood:
So let’s take Ivanka at her word that she personally baked banana bread for her son’s bake sale, rather than outsourcing the job to any of the many domestic workers who make her life run smoothly. On one hand, she is absolutely right that you cannot make decent banana bread if you cut back on sugar—banana bread is essentially cake, and sugar is integral to cake’s flavor and texture. On the other hand, who among us has not tried some harebrained scheme to make a baked good healthier with disastrous results? Attempting to replace white flour with whole wheat flour, butter with applesauce, eggs with flax meal—these are the rites of passage of the quasi-health-conscious home baker, torn between the desire to make something wholesome and the desire to make something delicious.
Ivanka’s tweet situates her at the sweet spot of this tug-of-war. Yes, she cares about nutrition, but she’s not some uptight health nut who’s going to pretend that low-sugar banana bread tastes good. She’s chill enough to abide a little sugar in her kid’s baked goods. And she can laugh at herself for trying to have it all and ending up with a mess on her hands. I am being dead serious when I say that this tweet is the most relatable thing I have ever seen Ivanka say or write. Of course, it’s also a distraction from that fact that Ivanka, who is supposed to be managing a “blind trust” of her father’s business, has sat in on more than one meeting between the president-elect and a foreign head of state, creating the impression that the Trumps are planning to use the presidency as a means to personally enrich themselves.
There was a theory floating around last week that Donald Trump’s angry tweets about Hamilton were a dastardly, brilliant diversion from the settlement he reached in the Trump University lawsuit. My colleague Josh Levin argued, convincingly, that not everything Trump tweets is “some sort of brilliant dark sorcery” with an ulterior motive. But Ivanka seems a lot smarter than her father. She knows that when you’re trying to distract people from wrongdoing, you have to offer them an alternative narrative. And the narrative of Ivanka as some kind of screwball comedy heroine with good intentions and terrible culinary judgment is the perfect antidote to the unseemliness of her role in her father’s transition team. How bad could someone who bungles banana bread really be?