Hope Hicks has been named interim communications director widening the circle of influential women in the White House, but where is the women’s empowerment fanfare?
Hicks is the fourth person in just seven months to hold the job or responsibilities – replacing Anthony Scaramucci, Mike Dubke, and Sean Spicer who assumed the duties of the job on an interim basis too.
There’s now a rush to figure out just who Hicks is, but so far no one is questioning her ability to get the job done.
Hicks is one of the few campaign staff to transition to the White House and perhaps that has served her well. She’s also demonstrated that she’s able to handle media storms and media personalities. As the New York Times explained in a profile last year, Hicks alone was doing the work that multiple staffers did on the Clinton team:
Now she plays confidante and sometime gatekeeper to the presumptive Republican nominee for president and, improbably, serves as Mr. Trump’s sole liaison to the teeming national press corps.
Hillary Clinton employs a half-dozen battle-hardened media handlers who field hundreds of daily requests. Mr. Trump has Ms. Hicks, who was working for his daughter Ivanka’s luxury lines and for the Trump real estate brand when the candidate called her to his office in early 2015 and declared that she was joining his campaign.
Perhaps what Hicks will bring to the job is what two of her three predecessors did not: she’s able to keep her head down and not make the headline about her. No doubt, SNL is trying to figure out which comedian can play the former Ralph Lauren model turned communications strategist, but they're unlikely to achieve the same comedic value as Melissa McCarthy playing Sean Spicer.
Feminists should be pleased that Hicks was named communications director – even if on an interim basis – as she widens the ranks of women at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Quietly, the circle of women around President Trump has been expanding and they have been the ones to successfully navigate the twists and turns of this administration. Hicks would be over Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but joins KellyAnne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, Dina Powell, Ivanka Trump, and others.
Politico recognized earlier this year that women seem to be thriving:
Conway, however, is not alone in surviving the snakepit. The quiet endurers of Trump’s tumultuous White House, by and large, are the women who serve in his administration …
But the women of the West Wing, at least so far, have had the more stable …
Interviews with former staffers, current White House officials and political observers give most of the credit to women being better equipped to navigate Trump’s short-fused personality, as well as his inability to cope with anyone getting more attention than him.
"He’s no different to women than he is to men,” said Barbara Res, a former top construction executive at the Trump Organization who worked directly under Trump and said he hasn’t changed his playbook in 30 years. “He’s not any more solicitous of women. He likes to have everyone on edge, people competing with each other, he likes to divide and conquer, he likes everyone to think they work directly for him, men and women alike.”
Some staffers also credit women with being able to handle the different personalities at play and others think women are “being work horses not show horses” and focusing on the agenda rather than their own brand. Still others surmiss women are succeeding because they hold multiple roles as working parents and that leaves less time for foolishness. Hicks is not a working mother though, so the latter explanation does not apply.
Whatever is making women in this administration successful, we should be happy to see savvy, competent women working for an agenda that will help women, men, and American families.
Today’s feminists and women's news outlets are unlikely to give credit where credit is due, so don't expect any approbation for Hicks anytime soon.