On Nov. 15, 2016 with high hopes for what you could do I published an open letter to you. It began, “I believe we must always keep an open line of communication with those we don’t agree with and the person on your side of this election I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with is you. As a supporter of Hillary Clinton the election didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. This isn’t the first campaign where my hopes were dashed. But the fight for the things I believe in and care about goes on. Ivanka, it would be great to have the opportunity to share with you how I lived my life. It is my conviction you would understand where those like myself are coming from and as senior adviser to your father that could be important and helpful as you help mold the administration.”
At the time many of us hoped you might be a moderating influence on social and economic issues relating to women, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community. You didn’t respond to the letter when it was published. Then I met Omarosa Manigault, the president’s Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, at a reception honoring the new Secretary of the Veterans Administration. We had a very pleasant conversation and I handed her a copy of the letter in an envelope addressed to you, which she promised to deliver.
I never heard from her or you again. Seeing what your father and his administration are now doing and saying, you are probably correct in thinking responding wasn’t worthwhile. Clearly you either agree with what your father is doing or have zero influence to do anything about it. Both scenarios are disappointing. This time I am not expecting a response.
Your father, the president, has become an embarrassment to the nation. He has been called all kinds of names by those who disagree with him and some may be over the top. But I can only conclude by his behavior and speeches he can fairly be described as a boorish pig. His conduct overseas including roughly pushing aside the prime minister of Montenegro to get to his place in a photo op and his remarks on the figure of the wife of French President Macron were offensive.
His statements on efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act leave one perplexed and with the clear impression he has no idea what he is talking about. Inviting members of the House of Representatives to the Rose Garden one day to celebrate passage of their bill, then calling it ‘mean’ days later. Yes it is mean. But then he supports an even meaner Senate bill finally begging them to do something no matter how hateful it is. Thankfully three decent Republican senators and every Democrat agreed both the House version, the Senate version he first supported, and the ‘skinny’ version are all mean-spirited and wrong-headed and voted them down. Clearly your father has yet to figure out the ‘art of the political deal.’
Then your father went further in showing how boorish and totally clueless he is with his speech to the Boy Scouts at their Jamboree. I am a Scout. In 1960, along with nearly 60,000 other Scouts, I attended the National Jamboree in Colorado Springs celebrating 50 years of scouting. That year another president, Dwight David Eisenhower, spoke. Whatever his politics he was a man with a reputation for decency and a military hero. Though I was a Democrat even then, supporting John F. Kennedy for president, I was inspired by Eisenhower’s words when he talked about trustworthiness, honor, honesty, valor and the importance of service to the nation. There is not one scout who when they think back on your father’s meandering remarks will be inspired to service. His use of curse words, talking about cocktail parties and women in New York; bashing a former president and threatening to fire one of his cabinet secretaries if a bill didn’t pass Congress, (let’s see if he does that now that the bill has failed) were totally inappropriate. The Boy Scouts for the first time ever had to apologize for a president’s speech. I can’t imagine even you weren’t embarrassed by that spectacle.
Your father has gone so far off track I find myself feeling sorry for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man I have always considered a racist. Your father talked about loyalty to the Boy Scouts; clearly your father’s concept of loyalty is a one-way street. Threatening Sessions for upholding the ‘rule of law’ is the height of stupidity and as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, if your father fired him there would be ‘holy hell’ to pay.
In a random early morning tweet your father attacked the LGBTQ+ community and heroic transgender members of the military announcing trans people will no longer be welcome to serve and possibly die for the nation. Something he was never willing to do. His new press secretary trying to explain the tweet lied about it saying it was in concurrence with the Department of Defense. In reality the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense have said they knew nothing about the tweet and the secretary had just announced a six-month study of the issue. Clearly lying at the White House has reached epidemic proportions.
So, Ivanka, the hope you and your husband would have any ability or even desire to moderate some of you father’s behavior is long gone. Instead we have seen you and Jared hire lawyers to defend what seems indefensible. We have witnessed both you and his inability to honestly fill out government forms including financial disclosure forms and at least his SF-86 needed to get a security clearance. The excuse on finances from your husband seems to be he is so rich it’s natural he forgot to report on numerous holdings. As to the security form he now admits he forgot over 100 meetings with foreign agents and is on his third or fourth iteration of the form in what he says is an attempt to be honest and forthcoming.
My God, how can he do his job if he really has such a poor memory? Or was he simply displaying selective memory hoping he could get away with it? When he signed the original form he swore to its truth that could be enough to send him to jail.
In fact, it appears all sense of honesty and plain decency have escaped most of those at the White House. You are all being caught up in the sludge oozing out of that venerable building; the building often called the people’s house. If this keeps up decent people will not want any association with that beautiful building, recently home to a family that represented what is best in America, until your father stops disgracing it and the country.
Many of us who harbored hope you would be a champion for decency now count the days until your father either leaves voluntarily or is thrown out. Only then will the American people once again be able to lift up our heads with pride when facing the world community.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.