It’s been difficult to reconcile the Ivanka Trump we feel we know — the poised, intelligent fixture in New York society — with her father’s alt-right-endorsed, circuslike campaign. But on Wednesday Ivanka showed she’s inherited at least one unfortunate trait from her father: his habit of making up facts that suit the situation, regardless of what the reality may be.
The day should have been a triumph for Ivanka. After her Republican National Convention speech, she drew criticism for eloquently calling for paid family leave, affordable child care, and equal pay — “a policy position that bears no relationship to her father’s rhetorical record or stated policy interests,” as New York’s Rebecca Traister put it. While it apparently took weeks of convincing, this week Donald Trump actually did roll out a family-leave policy that includes six weeks of paid leave for new mothers. He told a crowd in Iowa that Ivanka had been “pushing so hard for it,” and imitated her, saying, “Daddy, Daddy, we have to do this.”
Trump’s child-care plan has its flaws; specifically, the funding mechanism for maternity leave doesn’t make sense, and it would benefit the middle and upper-middle classes more than the poor. However, even critics had to acknowledge that it is better than the typical Republican family-leave plan, which is no plan at all.
Then Ivanka was dispatched to promote the plan (and her lifestyle brand focused on #WomenWhoWork). While she’s done many interviews on her father’s parenting skills and general belief in women’s empowerment (or at least, his daughters’ empowerment), it turns out she was unable to handle the pressure of talking policy specifics.
Tuesday night on Fox News, she told Megyn Kelly, “There’s no policy on Hillary Clinton’s website pertaining to any of these issues, child care, elder care, or maternity leave or paternity leave, for that matter.” As Think Progress points out, there are actually three pages on Clinton’s website that detail her plans for expanding family leave and access to quality child care, and she’s been talking about those issues from day one of her campaign.
Wednesday on Good Morning America, Ivanka altered her attack on Clinton, saying, “Respectfully, Hillary Clinton has been around for decades, and there’s no policy benefiting either mothers or fathers in terms of paid leave.”
Co-host Amy Robach noted that Clinton’s plan calls for 12 weeks of paid leave for both mothers and fathers. “We have not been in public office for the last several decades and she has,” Ivanka responded. “She could have instituted some of those policies in that role and has not done so.”
Then Ivanka assured Robach that the Trump Organization offers paid maternity leave to all of its thousands of employees. “And also adoption leave,” she said. “So it’s a great thing.”
During her decades in positions of power, Clinton did back one significant family-leave policy: the Family and Medical Leave Act, which her husband signed into law in 1993, despite Republican opposition. Ivanka should be familiar with the law, which only offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave, because it’s actually the only reason many Trump Organization employees get time off when they have a child. The Huffington Post looked into Ivanka’s claim on GMA, and employees at various Trump properties said the company complies with FMLA but offers no paid leave. A company spokeswoman said the Trump Organization offers “an industry leading 8-week paid parental leave policy” at some properties, but declined to say which ones.
Ivanka decided to cap off a tough day by chatting on the phone with Cosmopolitan. Apparently she was expecting a fluffy magazine piece, but Prachi Gupta surprised her by asking serious questions about the Trump campaign’s proposal — like, for starters, why not include paternity leave? Ivanka responded:
This is a giant leap from where we are today, which is sadly, nothing. Both sides of the aisle have been unable to agree on this issue, so I think this takes huge advancement and obviously, for same-sex couples as well, there’s tremendous benefit here to enabling the mother to recover after childbirth. It’s critical for the health of the mother. It’s critical for bonding with the child, and that was a top focus of this plan.
Since Ivanka brought up same-sex couples, Gupta went with that:
OK, so when it comes to same-sex —
So it’s meant to benefit, whether it’s in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code.
Well, what about gay couples, where both partners are men?
The policy is fleshed out online, so you can go see all the elements of it. But the original intention of the plan is to help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth.
So I just want to be clear that, for same-sex adoption, where the two parents are both men, they would not be receiving special leave for that because they don’t need to recover or anything?
Well, those are your words, not mine. [Laughs.] Those are your words. The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not.
Ivanka clearly wasn’t going to give a satisfying answer, so Gupta moved on to a question about Donald Trump’s 2004 comment that pregnancy is “certainly an inconvenience for a business.”
… It’s surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?
So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don’t know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you’re going to make a comment like that. My father obviously has a track record of decades of employing women at every level of his company, and supporting women, and supporting them in their professional capacity, and enabling them to thrive outside of the office and within. To imply otherwise is an unfair characterization of his track record and his support of professional women. So the policies at our company reflect that, and the diversity of our workforce, from a gender perspective, and in all perspectives, reflects that. So my father has been a great advocate for the women in the workforce, and that’s part of why he recognized that reform is so necessary.
Why does Ivanka think merely quoting her father constitutes “negativity”? As she revealed in her next answer, she cannot accept the idea that her dear old dad may have made some sexist comments in the past. (Let alone during this campaign, and sometimes involving her.)
I would like to say that I’m sorry the questions — you’re finding them negative, but it is relevant that a presidential candidate made those comments, so I’m just following up.
Well, you said he made those comments. I don’t know that he said those comments.
This is quoted from an NBC [interview] from 2004. I definitely did not make that up. I do want to talk to you a little bit beyond the plan, as well –
I think what I was — there’s plenty of time for you to editorialize around this, but I think he put forth a really incredible plan that has pushed the boundaries of what anyone else is talking about.
Next Ivanka was asked about how the plan would be paid for, and halfway through her answer she suddenly remembered there was somewhere she had to be. “I’m going to jump off, I have to run. I apologize,” she said, getting off the phone.
It’s like you can’t actually accept Donald Trump’s long, documented history of sexism and Ivanka’s claim that he’s even more pro-mom than Clinton without your brain short-circuiting.