If the Trump presidency was a reality show, then Donald Trump made sure to arrive at the White House with a vast supporting cast. His children and his children’s partners have been very much in the picture for the past four years, taking jobs in his administration and spreading the Maga brand on social media, like so many heads to his hydra.
It makes sense, then, that they stood behind Trump this morning at Joint Base Andrews like unfallen tributes at the Hunger Games, listening to him address the nation for the last time as commander-in-chief.
It’s amazing how far they’ve come. Remember, four years ago, when some people appealed to their inner sweet summer child and convinced themselves that Ivanka Trump would become a quiet but powerful instrument of resistance? Ha. That was cute. What we got instead was four years of Ivanka as a senior adviser to her own father, occasionally waxing poetics about families and referring to insurrectionists as patriots.
In her farewell message to the nation, Ivanka took a page out of her dad’s book and praised her own work, perhaps knowing that no one else would do it for her. “I came to Washington to fight for American families and I leave feeling I’ve done that,” she wrote. Oh, well. If you feel you’ve done that, then, that’s all that really matters.
During the early days of the Trump presidency, there was also a weird undercurrent of desperate liberal obsession with Tiffany, Donald Trump’s daughter with Marla Maples. For a minute there, Tiffany was dating a registered Democrat! And playing an anti-Trump card game at a bar! And sharing the evidence on her own Instagram account! In the end, though, she guzzled the family Kool-Aid too. She supported her father at official events. She spoke at the Republican National Convention. And on the last day of her father’s presidency, she announced her engagement with a photo taken – where else? – at the White House.
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I would be remiss not to mention Donald Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr and Eric. Don Jr did what he could to ensure he would remain (or perhaps become) his father’s number one boy. He defended him in innumerable interviews, became a conservative social media darling, and the list goes on – oh boy, does it go on. Eric, meanwhile, did what can only be described as pretty much the same thing. Only Don Jr has gone as far as comparing Joe Biden to The Lion King’s Uncle Scar in an ultimate and admittedly quite lame burn, but the day is still young for his brother.
And then, of course, there was Melania Trump, the first lady of rhetorical questions – from “I really don’t care, do you?” to “who gives a f*** about Christmas?”. This morning at Joint Base Andrews, she gave a brief address, telling the American people: “Being your first lady was my greatest honour. Thank you for your love and your support. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.” A few moments later, she, along with her husband, disappeared inside Air Force One, and the nation wiped away a single tear of emotion – sorry, actually, no, I am reliably informed that the nation kept pondering the single greatest mystery of our time: Who does gives a f**k about Christmas?
The Trump children followed behind Donald and Melania, ceremoniously boarding the presidential plane to the tune of the Village People’s “YMCA”, because I guess we’re still doing this. Goodbye, Ivanka. Goodbye, Don Jr and Eric. Au revoir. Ciao. In the words of Bob Dylan: goodbye is too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well. And don’t think twice, not that you would.
Anyone who has read Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough will know that, in the Trump family, being the favourite child is a means of survival. I understand the impulse to be your father’s daughter, or your father’s son. As long as you are a child, that is. But we’re talking about full-grown adults here, who by the time their father ascended to the White House had enough money and agency to survive on their own, should they choose to do so. Of course, that would have required doing a bit of actual work, and walking on a path not previously cleared by their father and their father’s father, so they did not do that. Instead, they enabled the most nefarious presidency modern American politics have seen, time and time again. And now it’s over. How devastating must that feel?
I am under no illusion that the Trump children will disappear from the public eye, even as their father leaves the presidency, kicking and screaming. Of course they won’t. They will keep reinforcing the Maga brand, trying to retain a grasp on its supporters, and so on and so forth. They will make a play for political power themselves. They will, perhaps, back a 2024 bid by the father (if he somehow comes out of his second Senate impeachment trial smelling of roses). But today, they are out of the White House. Today, we savour.
Goodbye, Trump children. To quote Don Jr’s favourite Disney character, Uncle Scar: Run. Run away, and never return.
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