Nepotism in government is bad simply because it implies an unhealthy conflation of governmental…
Terry Washington

The Robert Kennedy situation is often used by those defending the Trump nepotism. But they miss a couple of important differences. First, Bobby was actually a lawyer, had a fair amount of legal experience, and was qualified for the job he got (plus, unlike Ivanka or Jared, his job required Senate confirmation). Second, JFK appointing his brother did indeed bring cries of “nepotism!” from a lot of corners, and that resulted in Congress passing the nepotism laws we now have.

Instead, we should compare Ivanka and Jared to other unpaid workers for the President in the past. Which includes virtually every First Lady we’ve ever had. Hillary Clinton, for example, was given the task of researching our country’s healthcare system and coming up with a plan to improve it. Which she did. Of course, she had no actual power in implementing it — she could only hand her finished product to the President in an advisory capacity. And, of course, she received no pay. Other First Ladies have had their pet projects without too much complaint (with some exceptions — both Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama got a lot of public flak from their detractors for their “Just Say No” and “Let’s Move” programs, respectively).

I really don’t have much problem with presidential family members serving the President in an advisory capacity, as long as A) they are not paid, B) they have no real power of their own (serving only to give advice to the President, which he may or may not take), and C) they are qualified to do what the President is asking them to do. It’s that last point that’s a sticking point when it comes to Ivanka and Jared. Also, with Ivanka, it would be nice for us to be reassured that she has absolutely no connection whatsoever to any of Daddy’s business empire. And as there really isn’t a clear line separating the presidency and the Trump business empire these days, that’s a tough one.

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