Ivanka Trump learned the hard way that when dealing with pro-abortion and progressive groups, it’s either their way or the low-way. Politico reports that the newly minted White House adviser tried opening a “back channel” to Planned Parenthood, an unofficial opening to the nation’s largest abortion mill that Donald Trump has pledged to defund. What this opening was supposed to produce is anyone’s guess, however:
The first daughter requested a sit-down with Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood and a vocal surrogate for Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail, to talk about an organization that is being targeted by Republicans seeking to defund it because it provides abortions, among other women’s health services like cancer screenings.
Their under-the-radar meeting — a rarity between a well-known Democratic activist and a close adviser to a Republican president — has not been previously reported.
The biggest question is why push for the meeting at all. Annie Karni points out that both are daughters of significant political figures. Richards is the daughter of Texas governor Ann Richards, perhaps best remembered for her scornful remarks about George H. W. Bush being “born with a silver foot in his mouth” at the 1988 Democratic convention, and then losing her office to George W six years later. Maybe she thought that the personal connection could lower the temperature on the defunding issue, at least publicly.
But the strategic outreach hasn’t seemed to earn Ivanka Trump much public goodwill. Since Ivanka Trump’s sit-down with Richards, what started as a cordial relationship has soured — and any effort on the part of the politically savvy first daughter to back-channel to the non-profit has transformed into a bitter battle since Ivanka Trump assumed an official administration post.
Richards, fighting the Trump administration, has publicly rebuked Ivanka Trump for her “deafening” silence on the healthcare bill. On Wednesday night, Richards again took aim at the first daughter, now a senior White House official with a security clearance and an office in the West Wing.
“Anyone who works in this White House is responsible for addressing why women are in the crosshairs of basically every single policy we’ve seen in this administration,” Richards said, speaking at the Women in the World conference in New York City.
Chalk this up to political naïveté, and perhaps some tone deafness. Ivanka might be more liberal than her father — she’s been pushing for mandatory paid family leave, among other things — but Donald Trump has worked hard to put forward a tough pro-life line for two years, and has followed it up in office, at least so far. The last thing Trump needs while fighting for his agenda on health-care reform is a connection to Planned Parenthood, especially as the fight pits him against Freedom Caucus members who could seize on that to paint Trump as too moderate to trust.
Perhaps inexperience played a role, too. Experienced politicians (and “advisers,” paid or not) recognize that Planned Parenthood does not operate on the principle of moderation. With pro-abortion groups like PP and NAF, you’re either a true believer, a heretic, or an apostate. They aren’t interested in back channels, especially not with Republican administrations. Ivanka did nothing but make herself a target for Richards et al.
“You don’t get to have it both ways,” PP executive VP Dawn Laguens declared. And they made sure of that by exposing Ivanka’s efforts and ridiculing her for her outreach. That’s not just to embarrass Ivanka, but it also serves pour encourager les autres — lest any other public figures start thinking about “moderation” when it comes to abortion and Planned Parenthood access to hundreds of millions in tax subsidies. It’s a good lesson to learn early in one’s political career.