A number of media outlets have recently reported that Jared Kushner has been “tasked” with oversight of the administration’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
That’s evidently in addition to his “task” of bringing peace to the Middle East, and Vice President Mike Pence’s “task” of heading up the dysfunctional White House pandemic Task Force. Two recent columns have addressed this latest assignment handed to Wonder Boy, both by New York Times columnists.
I usually find Maureen Dowd too self-consciously cute for my tastes, but her column on Trump, Kushner and the pandemic is dead-on. She spent the bulk of her column inches on Trump’s incompetence, but it was her description of Kushner that resonated with me.
At the Thursday briefing, the president brought out another wealthy, uninformed man-child who loves to play boss: Jared Kushner. Where’s our Mideast peace deal, dude? Surely Trump did not think giving Kushner a lead role would inspire confidence. This is the very same adviser who told his father-in-law early on that the virus was being overplayed by the press and also urged him to tout a Google website guiding people to testing sites that turned out to be, um, still under construction.
Now he is leading a group, mocked within the government as “the Slim Suit crowd,” that is providing one more layer of confusion — and inane consultant argot — to the laggardly, disorganized response.
From the lectern, Kushner drilled down on his role as the annoying, spoiled kid in every teen movie ever made. “And the notion of the federal stockpile was, it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” he said. “It’s not supposed to be the states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
There has been a predictable uproar over Kushner’s description of “our stockpile,” but it was precisely the sort of arrogant ignorance that we’ve come to expect from someone perfectly described as the “annoying spoiled kid in every teen movie ever made.”
Michelle Goldberg’s column was a more serious analysis of the insanity of Jared’s most recent “tasking.” Here’s her lede:
Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.
According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. “I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)
As Goldberg notes, Jared Kushner has had exactly three”successes” thus far in his life: being born to rich parents, marrying well, and influencing his father-in-law. Other endeavors —” his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.”
(No wonder he gets along so well with Trump–they have similar trajectories…and similar delusions of competence. But I digress.)
“Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.
The author of a book about the Kushner family described Jared thusly: “he had supreme confidence in his own abilities and his own judgment even when he didn’t know what he was talking about.” Like his father-in-law. (In the quotable words of Rick Wilson, “Everything he touches dies.”)
His forays into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — for which he boasted of reading a whole 25 books — have left the dream of a two-state solution on life support. Michael Koplow of the centrist Israel Policy Forum described Kushner’s plan for the Palestinian economy as “the Monty Python version of Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
Now, in our hour of existential horror, Kushner is making life-or-death decisions for all Americans, showing all the wisdom we’ve come to expect from him.
I have repeatedly described Trump’s White House as a cross between the Keystone Kops and the Mafia. To which I should add that all of them are walking, talking illustrations of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
Gee–I wonder why I’m not reassured….?