Donald Trump has shown a total unwillingness to listen to any experts on any subject, instead preferring to surround himself with yes men, and the very occasional yes woman, who demonstrate deference and loyalty rather than expertise. And apparently, his daughter Ivanka is no better.
White House adviser Ivanka Trump is going on a listening tour to better understand the issues she has claimed are her specialty and particular passion: women’s issues and economic empowerment.
But this is no ordinary listening tour. Trump isn’t setting out to listen to everyday Americans whose lives are affected by government policies — like Hillary Clinton did when she kicked off her presidential campaign. Nor is she assembling a group of experts, as Michelle Obama did to build and promote her campaign for better nutrition.
Instead, Trump’s listening tour goes no further than the White House. In order to better understand the policies she has said will be her focus, she will be listening to her father’s cabinet of advisers, chosen not because of their expertise so much as their shared goal of shrinking government agencies and eliminating regulations — the types of regulations than often disproportionately benefit women.
Trump will be meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who, before leaving Congress to join the administration, was one of the leading opponents of Obamacare, specifically the provision that covers no co-pay birth control. Price has also been an avid opponent of Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of health care to low-income women.
Also on Trump’s agenda is a meeting EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier and friend to big oil, who also opposes marriage equality and companies that deny coverage of preventive care to employees. His record makes him a particularly odd choice for Trump to consult on women’s issues.
It is disturbing, but hardly surprising, that like her father, Ivanka Trump shows no interest in learning about the issues she rather suddenly decided to care about. Certainly, she could assemble a panel of experts on these issues. Or she could, like Clinton, travel the country to listen to those women she is supposedly interested in helping.
But, like nearly everything else about the Trump administration, Ivanka seems far more interested in the optics rather than the policy. So long as she can get a few headlines praising her supposed interest — despite any evidence that she is able to have any positive influence over her father’s policies — that is really all that seems to matter.