During a recent episode of The Late Late Show, host James Corden shared a story about drunkenly confronting Ivanka Trump at a wedding and insisting that she could “do something.” The “something” that Trump might do here is left vague in Corden’s telling, but suggests he doesn’t realize that she’s already doing quite a lot. If anyone needed further proof that celebrities and the extremely wealthy (the kind who might, say, still invite Ivanka Trump to their wedding) exist on an entirely different plane of existence, here it is.
During a segment of Spill Your Guts—a truth-or-dare game in which neglecting to answer personal questions could result in eating things like bull penis or Vienna sausage smoothie—Late Late Show guest Arnold Schwarzenegger asked Corden: “You recently attended a wedding that was also attended by Ivanka Trump. What did you talk about?”
Corden hesitated before launching into the tale of how he and actor Orlando Bloom ended up drunkenly approaching Trump:
I remember that we were quite drunk and we started going, “Ivanka, you can do something... you can make a difference... you can make it better.” And I remember Ivanka just going, “I’m trying!”
The next day, according to Corden, Trump playfully commented on his drunkenness, saying: “I bet you’ve got a headache this morning.” Corden laughed, and Schwarzenegger and the audience applauded. It all ended okay—just a mildly exasperated laugh shared between rich acquaintances.
No one expects Corden, a man who recently did airplane karaoke with Kanye West, to speak truth to power. And after celebrities came out of the woodwork to celebrate Ellen DeGeneres’s defense of her friendship with George W. Bush, we should know well enough by now that this is how these kinds of things work. (What’s a couple of human rights violations between friends?)
But the most perplexing aspect of Corden’s Trump story is the continued delusion that she is still on something resembling the “right” side of things, merely stuck between a rock—her supposed liberal values—and a hard place—her father.
But Ivanka Trump isn’t stuck anywhere. She is right where she wants to be.
Just as the characterization of Ivanka as The Liberal is undeserved (she has supported both Democrats and Republicans and conveniently identifies as neither), the characterization of Ivanka as the lone voice of reason in the Trump White House is equally undeserved. Sure, she has pushed her father to support stronger firearms restrictions and allegedly urged him to end his child separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, but she is, above all things, a loyal soldier to this administration and the family name attached to it.
For all of Trump’s “back-channeling” with her father, the administration is one of unmitigated violence. Her public-facing work includes promoting a toothless childcare policy, opposing a guaranteed minimum wage for all workers, making dog-whistle comments about gun violence in Chicago, and subtweeting about the injustice of the impeachment inquiry into her nakedly corrupt father.
The rest largely consists of spouting Ivankisms about empowering women while working in service of an administration that is actively making their lives more dangerous.
No one forced Trump into her current role. She picked it. According to New York’s longread about Ivanka Trump from August, her friends don’t expect her to move back to New York after she’s done with Washington, noting, “she’s too thin-skinned for that, too likely to be hurt by slights.” But if oblivious celebrities still see Ivanka Trump as some sort of damsel playing dutiful daughter, then her post-White House transition back to being a privately awful rich person will be much easier than she might assume.