“They do not grasp their essential irrelevance.”

There is an excellent essay at VANITY FAIR written by SARAH ELLISON that discusses the ever-evaporating influence and power of Twitler’s daughter/wife and her husband. It’s very long, so I will just give you a smattering of amuse-bouches to whet your appetite for the entire thing.

“What is off-putting about them,” one political veteran told me, “is they do not grasp their essential irrelevance. They think they are special.”


Original DVD cover

The couple had accompanied Trump on his second major international trip as president, the centerpiece of which was a meeting of the G-20, hosted by German chancellor Angela Merkel.


While Jared sat in on a bilateral meeting between Trump and British prime minister Theresa May, Ivanka anchored a panel that included the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde.


Two hours later, Trump tried to reward Ivanka, his favorite child, with a small perk. He asked her to briefly take his place at the conference table between Prime Minister May and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. […] “This is strange,” noted Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama. “Very strange.” Even among some Trump loyalists, the breach of protocol was too much. “Excuse me,” said one former Trump adviser. “This is not a royal family, and she’s not the princess royal.” (In fact, “princess royal” is a term that some West Wing advisers apply to her, though never to her face.)


The president’s abhorrent commentary about the events in Charlottesville, in which he described some of those marching with neo-Nazis as “very fine people” and decried the removal of Confederate statues as “sad to see,” is among the most toxic and racist public statements ever made by an American president. Any masquerade that Kushner and Ivanka could maintain that they were moderating influences in the White House flew out the window the moment Trump waved his hand and said that there were “many sides” to the Charlottesville violence.


Kushner and Ivanka will leave the White House at some point. When they do, it will be a welcome development for those who view the pair not merely as Trump’s protectors, as they see themselves to be, but rather as one of his greatest weaknesses. As a former West Wing staffer from a previous administration told me, speaking about Jared and Ivanka, “There’s nothing more obstructive and distracting and unhelpful than to have a bunch of stupid apolitical family members calling all the shots.” The arrival of [John] Kelly as White House chief of staff has introduced an official layer between the couple and the president. People close to Kushner and Ivanka say they welcome his promise of discipline. He has also been useful: Kelly assisted in the ouster of chief strategist Stephen Bannon, leader of the nativist faction in the White House and a longtime Kushner foe. But Kelly’s discipline also challenges the family-business nature of the Trump administration, which favors Kushner and Ivanka above all others.


The decision to move to Washington, where Ivanka and Jared occupy a $5.5 million home in the Kalorama neighborhood, just blocks from the Obamas, was as much driven by Jared’s deep role in the campaign as it was by Ivanka’s determination to remain at her father’s side. Ivanka initially planned to simply move to Washington with her family and work as an advocate for favored causes. But then she saw the potential opportunity to wield more clout.

While their divestments were certified by the Office of Government Ethics, neither of them chose to divest themselves entirely of their corporate assets before moving to Washington, an invitation to perceived conflicts of interest that Kushner himself has been particularly dogged by. Before taking on his official role, he had engaged in discussions with both Chinese and Qatari firms to help refinance the Kushner Companies’ signature building, 666 Fifth Avenue. He also secured a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank for a separate property as the bank was settling a Russian-money-laundering case with New York regulators. These episodes have invited uncomfortable questions about his motives and his ties to unsavory governments.


Ivanka has tried hard to persuade associates and others that she is focusing on a few issues—job creation and women’s empowerment, including paid family leave, child-care tax credits, workforce development, and STEM education—and should be judged only on the success or failure of these, not on the broader positions of her father’s administration. But if her main value in Washington is her access to her father and she is unable to sway him, then she is simply a 35-year-old former real-estate and retail executive in over her head.


Kushner has plunged into an array of issues so broad that it has become a regular source of mockery among comedians and, more importantly, people in official Washington. He not only oversees the Office of American Innovation (whose projects include improving government I.T., improving veterans’ services, infrastructure projects, addressing the opioid epidemic, and developing “workforce of the future” programs) but also has a broad foreign-policy role and serves as a general adviser to his father-in-law.

But outside the White House, a key problem seems to be, as one Washington veteran told me, that Kushner and Ivanka don’t have the necessary self-awareness—don’t understand how to behave when you roll into Washington as the creature of someone else. Most such people take a seat a little off to the side, at least until they get their bearings. “What is off-putting about them is they do not grasp their essential irrelevance,” this veteran told me. “They think they are special.”


Jared Kushner once described himself as “first among equals” in the West Wing, and one wonders as time goes on if he might be inclined to drop the latter part of that description. “Trump is emotionally dependent on his son-in-law and his daughter . . . but they can’t do anything for him,” said the Washington veteran. “All they can do is make him feel better about what his life has come to.”


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9 responses to ““They do not grasp their essential irrelevance.”

  1. These two, Jared ad Ivanka are full of themselves with a sense of entitlement. Nothing will change unless they are driven out by the new manager in chief

  2. jeb

    I read the VF article when I found it linked in this article which I’m sure you’ll also enjoy (just the title alone) Nonnie.


    • I saw the link when I read the original article. You know me so well, Eddie. The title drew me right in. 😆 Both are required reading. These were my favorite parts:

      It’s a bit late to keep their reputations from occupying the same clearance-bin space Ivanka’s trashy shoe line takes up at department stores. They’ve never been anyone independent of the opportunities and wealth afforded them by their corrupt fathers. They must see, deep down, that once this is all over—assuming we’re not all nuked out of existence—they’ll have their money and their good looks, but the respect of virtually no one.


      The president, it seems, is the only one who doesn’t see Jared and Ivanka for the shitheel fraudsters they really are. May we cheer the harm their greediness brings to their reputations and their happiness.

  3. the loony tic

    when you’re raised to believe that you’re the most beautiful & intelligent person in the world w/o having to actually accomplish anything on your own then it’s almost impossible to break out of that bubble. i’m not sure that they’re capable of self reflection or embarrassment.

    • I have to take issue with that. Plenty of kids have been raised to believe they are the best and the prettiest and the smartest, but reality usually kicks in, and they become actual human beings with some empathy for others. These two are entitled assholes who love it in their bubble and never even tried to break through. Both of them are missing something in their souls, and I feel sorry for their kids. Hopefully, they can break the disgusting cycle into which they were born.