My kid asked for a phone and I said “No.”
There’s a media narrative about the Trump family that’s going around right now that, as the father of a daughter, I find pretty offensive.
As we all know, Donald Trump authorized the bombing of Syrian airbases last week, ostensibly because President Assad horrifically used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens on April 4.
There are many theories about why Trump did this. Some argue that it was the right thing to do. Some argue that he was taking action that President Obama hesitated on doing himself.
Some argue that it was all a show, a big pantomime to demonstrate that Trump isn’t as cozy with the Russians as, well, everyone on Earth believes him to be. And some argue that there’s no better way to boost your falling polls numbers than by bombing another country.
BUT there’s another theory out there — a theory that Eric Trump has backed up — that, to me, is the most disturbing of all.
The theory that President Trump took action against Syria because his daughter Ivanka asked him to.
There are headlines out there that say “Eric Trump Says Syria Strike Was Swayed By ‘Heartbroken’ Ivanka” and Eric told the UK Telegraph, “Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence. I’m sure she said ‘listen, this is horrible stuff.’ My father will act in times like that.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
And, let me make this clear, I don’t know what the RIGHT reason is to bomb Syria. I don’t. I am an English major who, at best, skims world news headlines every day. There are MUCH smarter people than I who should be making those calls. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you don’t know either.
But, as a father, I can tell you that “because your kid asks” is a TERRIBLE reason to do just about anything, particularly when the “ask” involves 59 Tomahawk missiles.
Here’s why the “Ivanka asked” narrative is so toxic…
It makes both the father AND the daughter look WEAK.
It’s bad enough that the Trump family seems to not care at all about the issue of nepotism. Donald has flagrantly allowed his family to assume positions that most presidents would be embarrassed to reserve for immediate family members.
It already looks bad enough that Ivanka, a shoe designer, has an office in the White House. But now her own brother is telling the press that because Ivanka was “heartbroken,” she influenced her dad’s foreign policy.
That’s terrifying for so many reasons.
It particularly galls me, as the dad of a daughter, because the whole media narrative is designed to make Ivanka the emotional fall-guy of this story. They’re not saying “Ivanka made any salient diplomatic points” or “Ivanka assembled a compelling argument.”
They’re saying “emotional l’il Ivanka got sad and Big Daddy Donald doesn’t like his wittle gwirl to be sad.”
That’s disgusting. I am actually disgusted on Ivanka’s behalf. Say what you will about her shoes, but she’s a grown-ass professional woman. If she’s going to get a job from nepotism, why can’t they tout her as a policy expert as opposed to “the girl who cried”?
Why couldn’t the administration say that Eric was heartbroken or Donald? Why did they dump the knee-jerk emotional reaction into “The Girl”?
I fault Donald as a parent for letting that narrative get out there without slapping it down, but, if it’s true, I fault him even harder.
If I was the president and my daughter came into the room, distraught about a political issue, I would hear her out, hug her, thank her, and then I’d do whatever I was going to do before she came into the room.
Because she’s not the president. I am. It’s my job to make the hard calls. And, if I don’t know enough about the issue at hand, I am going to use my special president powers to gather together an advisory board of the smartest people in town — a group that WILL NOT include my immediate family members.
That’s no insult to Ivanka. Donald Trump should be a smart-enough father that he should be trying to protect his kids from these situations. He should be sensitive to conflicts of interest. He should be thinking “Boy, I don’t want to make it look like Ivanka pulls my strings. Maybe Eric should stop giving so many interviews.”
He should be protecting his daughter AND protecting the job of the President of the United States.
The President should make decisions because his advisors tell him, not his kids.
The President shouldn’t use his children as the “emotional brand” of his presidency.
The President shouldn’t be afraid to say “I’M heartbroken. I’m angry. I’m going to take action.”
The President shouldn’t hide behind his children. And neither should any father worth his salt.
I’m a dad and it’s my job to try to make the right call and to NOT use my kid as an excuse for my actions.
And guess what? It’s not that hard of a job.
So, I really hope that the “heartbroken Ivanka” story isn’t true. Because it makes her look weak and it makes her dad look weak and it makes the U.S. Presidency look petty and weak and childish.
We want political action because it’s the right decision for our country, not because a billionaire heiress marched into her Daddy’s office and made a demand AND not because her Daddy was too afraid of the political repercussions of his actions and decided to thrown his own daughter under the bus.
That might make for solid political theatre, but it also makes for piss-poor parenting.