After reportedly realizing over the course of her deeply uncomfortable trip to the US that Ivanka Trump was an unavoidable backchannel to the West Wing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel invited her to speak at the W20 Summit in Berlin on a panel about women’s entrepreneurship. The audience did not love it.
Ivanka, Politico reports, was questioned bluntly by the panel’s moderator and was “booed and hissed” by the room of mostly women when she called her father, hilariously, “a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.” Looks like we’re going to war with Germany now!
“You’re the first daughter of the United States, and you’re also an assistant to the president,” the moderator, WirtschaftsWoche editor-in-chief Miriam Meckel, said. “The German audience is not that familiar with the concept of a first daughter. I’d like to ask you, what is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?”
“Certainly not the latter,” Ivanka Trump said. “I’m rather unfamiliar with this role as well...It has been a little under 100 days and it has just been a remarkable and incredible journey.”
She did not define what her new role as a senior White House official entailed, but said that she cared “very much about empowering women in the workplace” and defined her goal as enacting “incremental positive change. That is my goal. This is very early for me, I’m listening, learning.”
Trump described herself as a “feminist” during the panel, and when questioned about her father’s “attitudes towards women,” she dismissed the notion as a concoction of the media.
Even taken separately from her current, deeply questionable role in the West Wing, it’s worth noting that Ivanka Trump has never exactly had her finger on the pulse of actual entrepreneurship or “empowerment”; the only thing Ivanka Trump has ever really seemed to have her finger on is polished, steely evasion. In a dive into Ivanka’s 2009 self-help book The Trump Card, former Jez staffer and current New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino noticed that the author tried to dodge the obvious answer to her success—lots and lots of family money—by creatively reframing her privileges as obstacles:
When Ivanka was a kid, she got frustrated because she couldn’t set up a lemonade stand in Trump Tower. “We had no such advantages,” she writes, meaning, in this case, an ordinary home on an ordinary street. She and her brothers finally tried to sell lemonade at their summer place in Connecticut, but their neighborhood was so ritzy that there was no foot traffic. “As good fortune would have it, we had a bodyguard that summer,” she writes. They persuaded their bodyguard to buy lemonade, and then their driver, and then the maids, who “dug deep for their spare change.” The lesson, she says, is that the kids “made the best of a bad situation.”
And during the panel, Ivanka again reframed this privilege, this time implying that her limitless existence is somehow a result not of massive piles of cash but in fact her father’s own inherent goodness; or rather, that said cash is perhaps the natural result of her father’s inherent goodness.
“I grew up in a house where there was no barriers to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity,” she said. “That’s not an easy thing to do, he provided that for us.”