Concerned Brit Edward Luce graced readers with his international perspective in a column for the Financial Times on Wednesday entitled “The creeping influence of nepotism in Trump’s America.” In it, he expresses dismay about nepotism in President Trump’s administration — notably the peculiar position of Ivanka Trump as “special assistant to the president.”
One can’t miss the irony of a man who lives in a country with an inbred, hereditary monarchy lecturing anyone about nepotism (a full disclosure that Luce’s father, Richard Luce, served as Lord Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, might have also been wise). It seems Luce — who claims to be “deeply concerned about the future of liberal democracy” — needs a reminder that one of the reasons why the United States isn’t Great Britain’s play-thing anymore is in part because our Founding Fathers weren’t too comfortable with having a royal family as a source of national pride.
After all, only a man wearing rather large blinders could possibly write that Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner’s “ascent to the pinnacle of US power has no parallel in modern western democracy.” Sure, there’s certainly reason to be concerned about the duo’s position in the White House — it’s fair to ask what their qualifications exactly are. And yes, nepotism should generally be avoided entirely because familial ties often cloud an individual’s judgement.
But it certainly seems that when it comes to Luce and his cohort, the concerns about nepotism are less about nepotism than they are about Donald Trump.
Indeed, let’s not pretend that we’re witnessing some sort of paradigm shift in the way Western politics conducts itself. One only needs to look back to John F. Kennedy’s administration to see how the president’s brother, Bobby Kennedy, became Attorney General and First Philanderer with zero experience in a courtroom.
Luce makes no mention about whether that flagrant act of favoritism could possibly serve as a “reputational hit to US democracy” (in fact, it led to federal anti-nepotism laws which Kushner somehow managed to skirt). I realize it’s hard for liberals to see beyond their wet dreams about the Kennedys, but Ivanka and Jared just have influence. Bobby, as chief law enforcement official of the land, had power.
Fast forward 25 years, and America saw the rise of new, wannabe Kennedys with more criminal behavior, but marginally less adultery. “Had Hillary won [last November],” Luce concedes in a rare moment of intellectual honesty, “Bill Clinton would have been a powerful “first guy.” No kidding.
Despite this obvious corollary, “Ms Trump’s position takes the White House family enterprise to new levels” simply because she had the temerity to sit “next to Ms. Merkel, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, and other women there by virtue of their own efforts,” according to Luce.
After all, when Hillary was tasked with overhauling the United States’ entire healthcare system by virtue of marriage, “Hillarycare” was just a side project compared to sitting on some vapid women’s panel in Berlin. When NBC paid Chelsea Clinton $600,000 for a sinecure in its news department, that didn’t symbolize the degradation of American media, that was just Comcast identifying a gifted broadcast journalist, right, Luce?
If those examples aren’t convincing enough, one only has to look north and see who recently got elected as Freeland’s boss. Sure, liberal darling Justin Trudeau is a handsome fella with some nice abs, but does anyone sincerely believe he’d be in charge if his dad was just a simple gas station owner and not Canada’s head honcho for over 15 years?
There aren’t a lot people completely comfortable with Ivanka getting her own office in the White House. Be it her social liberalism or her political inexperience, liberals and conservatives can make a case that she’d serve the country better by simply managing her clothing line.
Then again, the hysteria over Ivanka’s role in shaping federal policy can help cheapen the shrieks from feckless liberals like Luce. It’s hard to look at Ivanka and see anything sinister.
Nepotism stinks and in an ideal world it wouldn’t exist, but don’t blame Republicans for taking part — they’re just catching up.