Increasingly Russiagate is being compared to Watergate. Just yesterday none other than Republican Senator John McCain told a group, “We’ve seen this movie before.” The White House under siege is “reaching Watergate size and scale.”
At this point, there is little expectation that Russiagate and everything that it includes and implies will go away. In fact, at this point, there is growing consensus that the president’s political (and legal) problems are likely to get worse, not better.
Assuming the present scandal does reach the epic proportions of Watergate, comparisons will inevitably be made between the two men at the center, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. On a personal level are important similarities: 1) tendency to oddity; 2) tendency to paranoia; 3) tendency to friendlessness; and 4) tendency to personal as well as political isolation. Among other things, both men were remarkably detached from their immediate families, including their wives.
But, both men also had a single source of emotional sustenance: daughters to whom they were closer than to anyone else on the planet. Daughters who stood by them when nearly no one else did. What I am saying is that should Russiagate continue to get worse, Ivanka Trump is likely to play the same critical role as did Julie Nixon Eisenhower.
The Nixons had two daughters. But Julie, younger than her sister Tricia, was always someone special in the Nixon family. From an early age, she was a star: pretty, clever, and lively, and when she married the only grandson of five star General and, later, President Dwight David Eisenhower, she married into one of America’s most highly esteemed political families.
When Watergate hit, it was Julie who from beginning to end stood steadfastly, privately and publicly, by her father. She was his ballast – by far his most important source of support. In my book, All the President’s Kin, I wrote: “Before too long she was the chief spokesperson for the entire Nixon family on the hot topic of Watergate. She was capable of putting in as many as six appearance in different parts of the country in one week. And she had guts…. [Throughout a series of difficult interviews] she maintained her composure and insisted on her father’s innocence.” In his memoirs, Nixon wrote that he did not want his younger daughter to take the brunt of Watergate, but that “she could not bear the fact that there did not seem to be anyone else who would speak out for me. Whenever I suggested that she not become so involved, she always replied, ‘But Daddy, we have to fight.’”
It’s not clear that Ivanka is as emotionally close to her father as was Julie to hers. But, given the isolation of the incumbent president, and given her own political poise, it’s likely that Ivanka will follow where Julie led.