Suzanne Harrington takes an imaginary look inside the White House.
What does Donald Trump get on Father’s Day? He has five children — do they give him funny cards? Cigars? What do you give a man who has everything from the nuclear codes to narcissistic personality disorder? Socks? Anti-psychotics?
Although there are five Trump children — Donald Jr (39), Ivanka (35), Eric (33), Tiffany (23) and Barron (11) — it is the eldest three who are most involved with the White House reality show.
While the sons run the Trump empire in their father’s absence, Ivanka is his special advisor, although it remains unclear in what capacity; when her father was elected, she and her family relocated to Washington.
She and her husband’s posts are unelected, unofficial, and it has been suggested, unethical.
They have formed a circle of nepotism around her father in the White House, despite zero political or public service experience, as her brothers mind the shop. She’s his confidante. Tiffany is nowhere to be seen. Barron is with his mum.
If anyone crosses the White House Trumps — like former election campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — they are swiftly ejected. Ivanka made sure of this, after Lewandowski briefed against her husband Jared Kushner, saying he was out of his depth. Instead, the campaign strategist was out of a job, and Kuchner became special adviser to the new POTUS.
“Obviously we don’t want people around who aren’t trustworthy,” Ivanka said. “We are family. It’s about trust.”
Ivanka has subsequently created a new role, First Daughter, as the First Lady remains silent as background scenery, only recently leaving their New York penthouse to be reluctantly installed in the White House with her son.
While the current Mrs Trump avoids public life, it is Trump’s eldest daughter who has stepped into the role of special advisor, ear to the throne, and translator of her father’s incoherence. She presents ‘reasonable’ to what Jimmy Kimmel describes as Trump’s horse-in-a-hospital persona.
So how does it work? Who are they, these Trump kids? And what’s the dynamic with their dad? Are they blustering idiots of privilege?
Or, given their gold-plated upbringing, weirdly normal and hard working? What was Trump like as a father?
Perhaps Donald’s greatest gift to his children was that he didn’t rear them himself. Narcissists view people as objects — and children as mirrors, their purpose to reflect back the narcissist’s image of him or herself.
With Trump, this reflection was sought in business acumen — his three eldest children are entirely involved in the family business, one way or another. None has run off to be a poet or a freedom fighter.
As a parent, Donald Trump was entirely hands-off, outsourcing his parenting responsibilities to others, both paid and unpaid.
“My father is a very hardworking guy, and that’s his focus in life, so I got a lot of the paternal attention that a boy wants and needs from my grandfather,” Donald Jr told New York magazine in 2004.
Nor was Trump a nappy man. “No, I don’t do that,” he once told an interviewer. His take on gender roles remains solidly Old Testament.
“There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife… It’s just not for me.”
Happily, there were Irish nannies — the late Bridget Carroll from Kerry, and Dorothy Curry from Cavan, who reportedly still works for the first Mrs Trump. Both nannies have been mentioned glowingly, their characters impacting positively on their Park Avenue charges. Donald just paid the bills.
And when he and Ivana were divorced in 1991, Ivana retained full custody, in a neighbouring apartment in Trump Tower.
Joshua Kendall, author of First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama, told Vanity Fair the reason the three elder Trump children remained relatively solid was that: “He [Trump] wasn’t around when they were very young, and their early bonding comes from the nannies, who, by all accounts, were very nice.
He wasn’t their major attachment figure. He passed off the more challenging parenting to someone else, but he was around to be an influence in their career.”
Nor have any of the three eldest Trump children become caught up in addiction, or done stints in rehab. Dad only drinks Diet Coke — his older brother Fred died of alcoholism in 1981, perhaps putting Donald off. He has a no alcohol, no drugs, no smoking rule.
And despite Dad’s three marriages, thus far the older Trump kids have managed to avoid Kardashian-style 72 day marriages.
Instead, they are all about the work ethic — albeit, one born of extreme privilege.
Born in 1981, Ivanka is 12 years younger than her step mother Melania, the current Mrs Trump, with whom relations are reportedly non effusive. Nor is she close with her half sister’s mother, Marla Maples. Despite her father saying in public how if she were not his daughter, he would date her, she remains his closest ally.
Formerly a fashion model, she has also run a clothing brand, promoted by her father, who has threatened retailers with his wrath were they refuse to sell her product.
Ivanka presents as a working mum — she has three young children — who says she would like better provision for American parents.
Her role seems to be an interface between the mad orange guy in the Oval Office and the rest of the world — she has sat with the politely bemused Angela Merkel and Christine Lagard, discussing how the US is the only developed country in the world not to offer paid maternity leave as a matter of course.
In her latest book, Women Who Work, Ms Trump has said she wanted to “debunk the superwoman myth”.
During her father’s campaign, she was, she says, “in survival mode” —by which she meant she did not have enough time for regular massages.
One of the Rich Kids of Instagram, 23 year old Tiffany is also known as the forgotten Trump. With her mother Marla Maples, the second Mrs Trump, Tiffany grew up in California and hung out with the Kardashians, rather than in Trump Tower in New York. Again, Dad was entirely hands off.
Ivanka insists that they are close, that she is Tiffany’s big sister, and again uses her special powers as Trump-whisperer to get Tiffany’s (financial) needs met by their distant father.
She once secretly wangled Tiff a credit card for Christmas, then wrote about it in her book The Trump Card. This may or may not have embarrassed Tiffany.
Describing their relationship to Howard Stern in 2007, Trump says his second daughter used to visit him for “about an hour”, and how he “glanced” at her school reports.
In another interview, he revealed how “Marla used to say, ‘I can’t believe you’re not walking Tiffany down the street,’ you know in a carriage. Right, I’m gonna be walking down Fifth Avenue with a baby in a carriage. It just didn’t work.”
Tiffany was present, however, for the latter part of the presidential campaign, amid talk of Trump being a wonderful father.
DON & ERIC
Portrayed as Dumb and Dumber by shows like Saturday Night Live, it is the younger one, Eric, who comes in as the latter. Both are famous for posting photos of large animals they have shot dead for fun.
To avoid a conflict of interests, they are not supposed to discuss the Trump business empire with their POTUS father.
Eric recently told Forbes magazine: “My father and I are very close. I talk to him a lot. We are inseparable.”
Which sounds lovely in the context of Father’s Day, but perhaps not ideal when it comes to basic presidential ethics.
Barron is the son of the third and current Mrs Trump, Melania. He’s 11. He rolled his eyes during his dad’s presidential acceptance speech. That’s all we need to know about him for now.
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