Book Review:  “A toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance”

Publication date:  March 2019book cropped

Review, short version:  Three roses for the writing; multiple skunks for the subject.

Review, long version:

You’ve heard the expression, “Wash your mouth out with soap”?

After I finished this book I wanted to wash my brain out with soap.

I’ve deliberately avoided books about Donald Trump, figuring that the authors would either deify him or crucify him.  Everyone is entitled to their points of view, but I wasn’t interested in reading them.

And author Vicky Ward certainly has her point of view about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner in Kushner, Inc.:  Greed.  Ambition.  Corruption.

But I decided to read Ward’s book because I was curious about the “First Daughter” and “First Son-in-Law.”  They’re not in the headlines as much as the president, and I wanted to know what was going on behind the scenes.

Well, now I know.

*****

When a potential couple meets, it’s good to discover things in common.

It might be they’re both from the Midwest, or they have the same model of phone, or they both hate math.

Here’s what Ivanka and Jared discovered they had in common:

They were both raised to believe the rules don’t apply to them.

And as adults, that was and is a core belief.

implants
Her “chest size seemed to change suddenly, and significantly.  She would later say she was a ‘curvy’ person and told GQ that rumors she had gotten breast implants were ‘absurd.’”  Ivanka:  Why lie?

It was a match made in…

Well, “Heaven” isn’t quite the word I’m thinking.

I’d like to write off Ivanka and Jared as innocuous, vacuous, and, ultimately, not dangerous nonentities.

Unfortunately, I can’t.

They are Senior Advisors to the President, and this position is important.  Distinguished, intelligent members of both parties have held this role honorably, treated the role respectfully, and served our country honestly.

Our presidents have always had advisors because no president – no matter how intelligent or well-informed – can know everything about everything.

But our current president has two Senior Advisors who know nothing about anything…it's all about me

Except self-aggrandizement.

Allowing Jared any active role in our country’s politics, considering his lack of experience, is like telling someone they’re qualified to do brain surgery because they’ve seen a picture of a brain.

Allowing Ivanka to advise the president – the most powerful person in the world – about anything beyond accessorizing an outfit is like inviting a blind person to race in the Indie 500.

And Ivanka is adept at accessorizing – she even launched a fine jewelry line in 2007.

This is relevant because in November 2016, after her father won the election, the Trump family appeared on 60 Minutes.

The next day Ivanka’s company sent out a press release to promote the $10,800 yellow gold and diamond bracelet that she wore during the show:

ivanka-trump-bracelet-2016-11-15 cropped

As the Hollywood Reporter put it, “This isn’t the first time Ivanka has used a political forum to promote one of her own designs…but given Ivanka’s dad’s new role, it would be a conflict of interest for her to be using his presidency for personal profit.”

For me, Ivanka can be summed up by her behavior at the G20 Summit in 2017.  The Summit is an international conference for heads of governments and banks, foreign ministers and other VIPs who meet to discuss international financial stability.

At one point during the proceedings President Trump left the room, and, as Ward puts it, Ivanka “took her father’s seat…between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping”:

Ivanka at g20

“The gesture,” Ward continues, “seemed to send the message that the U.S. government was now run on nepotism.  Senior State Department officials and a senior White House official agreed it was inappropriate.”

Inappropriate?

Egregiously so.

And Jared?

Charles-Kushner-Defends-Son cropped
In 2005 Jared’s father, Charlie Kushner, pleaded guilty to 18 counts tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign contributions, and served time in federal prison.  Like father, like son?

Jared was, says Ward, his father’s favorite of four siblings, the “Chosen One.”  When his GPA and SAT scores didn’t warrant his getting into Harvard, his father, Charlie Kushner, “pledged $2.5 million to Harvard…He also got New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who was an investor in at least one of his projects and to whom Kushner Companies had donated more than $200,000, to make a call to Senator Ted Kennedy, who, in turn, phoned Harvard’s dean of admissions.”

And just like that, Jared was in.

Kushner, Inc. quotes many people about Jared, some of them named and some of them not.  Jared’s former employee, Elizabeth Spiers, said, “Jared doesn’t care about ethics.  It’s not an issue of him not understanding what the ethics are.  It’s him deciding they don’t matter.”

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni said that Jared is “integral when there’s the hope of credit, invisible when there’s the certainty of blame.”

aed2536b310fe7caabb93e0fd11f6138 cropped
Jared, Ivanka, and photo props.  I mean, children.

From Ward:  “Whatever the right word to describe his meddling in foreign affairs…‘Potentially dangerous’ is a phrase I heard used by a…recently retired, very senior State Department official…”

From a former senior White House official:  “Jared never understands the details of anything.  He’s just impressed by names.”

Again, from Ward:  Jared is “clearly, his father’s son in so many ways, including a disdain for rules, for ethics, for honesty.”

And this, from one U.S. political consultant in the Middle East:  “They caught the Saudis talking to each other about how Jared would give them information.”  And another Middle East political consultant:  “They [the Saudis] think he’s just the worst human being they’ve ever met.”

Ward frequently uses the media’s nickname for Jared and Ivanka – “Javanka” – including in her acknowledgments:

“…the story of Javanka’s rise and their corruption was essential reading for all those truly seeking insight into this bent administration and who fear for our country’s future in their hands.”

Well, now I have some insight.

Javanka:  “A toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go…

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