Ivanka’s work as humanizer-in-chief is more vital than usual because Trump’s wife, Melania, is so poorly suited for the job. Even setting aside the brouhaha over Melania’s convention-speech plagiarism and the awkward questions about her visa status during her early days of modeling here, Melania does nothing to make Trump seem more relatable. She is too young, too hot, and, yes, too exotic. (Just try picturing the Slovenian-born supermodel snarfing down corndogs and casually chatting up Middle America’s working moms about the high costs of child care.) If anything, she is a reminder of how very different her thrice-married, reality-show, real-estate heir of a husband is from the average American. Ivanka may be richer than most voters, but she radiates a humanity, decency, and basic likability that the rest of that family sorely lacks. As such, she is essentially pulling double duty in normalizing the candidate.
Beyond providing a personal touch to Team Trump, Ivanka is also stepping out as a policy surrogate on so-called women’s issues. Post-convention, she has been pitching her dad’s child-care plans in interviews, on the trail, and, this week, to Republican congresswomen (all of whom are answerable on such matters to their constituents). She has hit a bump or two in this capacity. For instance, when Cosmo presented her with some tougher-than-expected questions, Ivanka got snippy and cut short the interview.
Still, for anyone unnerved by the Donald’s sketchy handling of women (either personally or politically), Ivanka provides both hope and comfort. Whether or not she has personally struggled with issues like parental leave or equal pay, she talks a pretty good game. Plus, she’s got that whole “Women Who Work” book coming out early next year based on her company’s initiative of the same name.