After Donald Trump alienated most of humanity by championing the torch-carrying racists who marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, the New York Times reported that some of the disenchantment was coming from inside the White House. “Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, urged him to [denounce hate groups by name], according to two people familiar with the situation,” Glenn Thrush wrote.
The journalist reiterated his scoop with a tweet:
It was a familiar drumbeat: per sources. Per sources whose names very probably rhyme with Triblanka and Shmared, Ivanka and Jared stood up against white supremacy. But they were tragically thwarted by their own holiday schedule. While the president crafted his even-more-inflammatory Tuesday statement, “as with so many other critical moments in Mr. Trump’s presidency, the two were on vacation, this time in Vermont,” Thrush drily commented.
It was not the first time the power couple’s habit of leaking self-glorifying details to the press had produced both consternation and hilarity. “Sources” close to the West Wing blabbed that Jared and Ivanka were upset about the Muslim ban (only they were off celebrating Shabbat, so couldn’t do anything about it) and that they despaired of the first health care bill (from their ski resort in Aspen, Colorado).
This rigmarole has grown de rigueur enough to inspire a meme. Amid calls for the Gray Lady to stop “launder[ing]” Javanka’s “PR efforts,” Twitter chorused:
Though such tweets have so far mostly been slung by liberals, criticizing Javanka’s alleged attempts to influence the president is a pastime with cross-party appeal. To left-leaning observers, the pair’s displays of impotent dismay look like enabling, as if Javanka were less interested in moderating Trump than in preserving the fading gleam on their own brand. To Breitbart, the same behavior smacks of sedition. The alt-right news source accused Jared and Ivanka of undermining POTUS on five separate occasions, including after he announced his injunction against trans soldiers (his distraught daughter reportedly learned of the policy when she checked Twitter on her phone) and after his Access Hollywood tape inflamed the morning papers. Evicted counselor Steve Bannon told the New York Times that what sway Javanka holds over the president is fast diminishing. “Those days are over when Ivanka can run in and lay her head on the desk and cry,” he said. The couple that wants it both ways is getting it neither, and these capsules of gallows humor are a remarkably satisfying distillation of that idea.
The only surprising point here is how long it took for Jared and Ivanka’s orb to sink into the mud of public derision. Never around when you need them, too cowardly to voice their opinions except under cover of night, these advisers are the worst kind of mealy-mouthed opportunists. At the beginning of the Trump presidency, they were credited with drawing POTUS back from the ledge of ethno-nationalism; after Charlottesville, that reputation is gone. The past few days of Twitter mockery haven’t just exposed the couple’s ineffectualness. The jokes underscore a left finally coming to terms with its own curdled hopes. Liberal fantasies aside, Jared and Ivanka never had the power nor the will to bring progressive reason to the White House, and that revelation lies behind the raucous embrace of a trope designed to chide us all for being momentarily bewitched.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the real takeaway here is that Javanka is a two-headed moral failure that wishes the country to believe it is tempering Donald Trump’s madness even as its only priority appears to be protecting its dwindling credibility. The source can no longer abide Javanka’s equivocations and would absolutely come out and say so, except that the source is on vacation in Maine. But the source would like to clarify that he or she is not the author of this post, is familiar with the author of this post, and thinks the author is right on. “Smart writer,” the source said, on condition of anonymity. The source also praised the writer’s supermodel boyfriend, who invented the Higgs boson and donated the proceeds to Americares and also exists, the writer has a picture on her phone, it’s right here.