Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Jared Kushner: A Weak Link

 

Many of us are very pleased with the choices that President Trump has made for his cabinet and for SCOTUS. Many of those selected are familiar with the ins and outs of government, and those who aren’t are experienced with working with sensitive and global issues and leaders. So I’d like to explain my reservations with the president’s selection of Jared Kushner as a senior adviser who is now taking on the management and/or leadership of a number of projects, both domestic and international.

First, I’d like to list the roles he has been assigned with a limited description of his duties and responsibilities:

  1. White House Office of American Innovation—this work entails coordinating between the public and private sector to streamline government.
  2. Shadow diplomat—according to the Washington Post, he is “the primary point of contact for presidents, ministers and ambassadors from more than two dozen countries.”
  3. Middle East Broker—working on a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
  4. Reforming care for veterans—it isn’t clear what his role will be.
  5. Fighting opioid addiction—again, his role has not been defined publicly.

It’s been pointed out that he has many other duties in the White House, but these are the ones that have been identified.

So here are my concerns:

Kushner is described as a real estate and media mogul, and has been very successful. He was also a key member of Trump’s campaign team. He not only has no government experience, but is only 36 years old. Although I’m sure he’s talented, Trump himself spoke of Kushner in an interview: “Jared is such a good kid and he’ll make a deal with Israel that no one else can,” he told the UK Sunday Times: “He’s a natural deal-maker — everyone likes him.” Trump may be right, but calling Kushner a kid and characterizing him as likeable doesn’t fill me with confidence.

His domestic responsibilities generate less concern for me than the international activities. I don’t have a problem with his spearheading the Office of American Innovation, although it’s been tried before:

But the Trump team is hardly the first seeking to improve how the government operates. The Reagan administration tasked the Grace Commission in 1982 with uncovering wasteful spending and practices, while the Clinton administration sought its own reinvention of government in 1993 with what was initially called the National Performance Review. Previous commissions have not produced overwhelming results in changing the stubborn bureaucracy, casting some doubt on what Kushner’s team can accomplish.

Still, I don’t mind his trying to streamline government, and the task certainly aligns with his business experience.

The other domestic issues are serious concerns, such as care for veterans and opioid addiction. My hope is that he brings in experienced, competent and creative people to work on these concerns.

My biggest concerns are with his international responsibilities. With his lack of international diplomatic experience, I question his role as “shadow diplomat.” He may not be making decisions and only act as a liaison, but working with foreign countries can require a level of understanding and sophistication that he may or may not have. Unintentionally he may say or do something that compromises our relationships with other countries.

I am especially concerned about his potential role in the Middle East. I know that he is familiar with Israel and the Palestinians, but I don’t know his beliefs or biases towards those countries; although he is working for a Republican administration, he is a liberal. And finally, could he unintentionally or purposefully compromise the strategies and goals of our Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson? Since the specifics of his role are unclear, and bringing him up to speed may be a monumental task, the potential for snafus or conflict are there.

Finally, will Trump take action if Kushner is not effective? Or is he so fond of him and impressed with his overall credentials that he will overlook errors or difficulties?

I wish Trump had not picked Jared Kushner for these tasks, particularly those that are internationally complex and conflicted. It doesn’t bode well.

There are 45 comments.

  1. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    I lived thru AlGore’s (that is one word) reinventing Government campaign. Government refused to be “reinvented”, and look where AlGore is now. Sad.

    I think you have a better shot and eliminating and “merging” government functions and then starving (i.e. $$) the new entities so it is forced to re-evaluate what are their real priorities with a new line item budget. The chaos that entails make it harder for the entrenched factions to get attention to their interests.

    • #1
    • May 7, 2017, at 2:48 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Drusus Coolidge

    With respect to Ms. Quinn, I’m getting tired of assaults on public figures based on age rather than evidence, whether old or young. The question is not age but competence. A keen intellect and Machiavellian streak can steamroll a seasoned mediocrity. Not to say that Kushner has these features, but it is as yet unproven.

    Octavian, Agrippa, Rufus, and Maecenas brought the Empire to its knees against Cicero, Lepidus, and Antony, despite being around 20 at the time.

    I think the real question is thus: is Kushner an Octavian, or is he a nepotistic mediocrity? Time will tell.

    • #2
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:15 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Dave Sussman Contributor

    Did you see John Olivers extended hit on him? Start @9:45 (language)

    • #3
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:21 PM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Drusus (View Comment):
    With respect to Ms. Quinn, I’m getting tired of assaults on public figures based on age rather than evidence, whether old or young. The question is not age but competence. A keen intellect and Machiavellian streak can steamroll a seasoned mediocrity. Not to say that Kushner has these features, but it is as yet unproven.

    My concerns are about more than his age. We don’t know how competent he will be in government. There are major, international issues at stake. Since the complexities of government are much greater than those of old, I don’t know how helpful the comparisons are. I know that it’s early, but the question remains: are we comfortable waiting to see how he does? (Also note that I didn’t write a diatribe–only a concern.)

    • #4
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:31 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Did you see John Olivers extended hit on him? Start @9:45 (language)

    I didn’t see it, Dave; just as well. I don’t like Oliver. But I’d like to think that although our assessments are similar, I did a better job at being fair and objective!

    • #5
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:34 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. MJBubba Inactive

    Susan Quinn: …

    My biggest concerns are with his international responsibilities. With his lack of international diplomatic experience, I question his role as “shadow diplomat.” He may not be making decisions and only act as a liaison, but working with foreign countries can require a level of understanding and sophistication that he may or may not have.

    He has some high-profile international tenants in his properties, so he is not entirely lacking in experience with foreigners. He will have to learn about each culture the same way any diplomat learns, and there are plenty of resources available to him. Since they know he has Trump’s trust, the foreigners will be clamoring for some attention from J. Kushner. They will be as eager to develop good relations as he is.

    We are not talking about some unsophisticated bubba.

    Unintentionally he may say or do something that compromises our relationships with other countries.

    Now this statement seems like Nervous Nellie. This is simply echoing the anti-Trump handwringing of the Leftists and NeverTrumps.

    • #6
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:43 PM PST
    • Like
  7. Dave Sussman Contributor

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Did you see John Olivers extended hit on him? Start @9:45 (language)

    I didn’t see it, Dave; just as well. I don’t like Oliver. But I’d like to think that although our assessments are similar, I did a better job at being fair and objective!

    Of course you did!

    I don’t dislike Oliver, unlike the smarmy Bill Maher, but you know it’s always going to be brutal. I watch because this is where many ‘enlightened ones’ are educated on the news. Knowing what progs will spew before they open their government cheese holes makes it so much more entertaining for the listener.

    • #7
    • May 7, 2017, at 3:47 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. MJBubba Inactive

    Contributor Susan Q., I agree with you about Oliver.

    As far as your concerns that J. Kushner might “…unintentionally or purposefully compromise the strategies and goals of our Secretary of State…”, I think this also is anxiety-promotion that echoes the Leftists and Nevers.

    It seems to me to be a more “monumental task” to bring R. Tillerson up to speed on the full agenda of the Secretary of State, when compared to the task of bringing Kushner up to speed for a handful of specific negotiations.

    • #8
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:19 PM PST
    • Like
  9. MJBubba Inactive

    Here is a long article from Forbes about J. Kushner’s role in the Trump campaign. It is worth reading because it gives a ton of background on Kushner and it explains why Trump would want him involved in several dicey tasks.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2016/11/22/exclusive-interview-how-jared-kushner-won-trump-the-white-house/#47f0de143af6

    • #9
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:21 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    Now this statement seems like Nervous Nellie. This is simply echoing the anti-Trump handwringing of the Leftists and NeverTrumps.

    Sorry you feel that way, MJ. Knowing he’s a liberal, and knowing how liberals see Israel, and knowing that Trump really can’t make up his mind about Israel and the Palestinians, I think my concerns are justified.

    • #10
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:22 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    It seems to me to be a more “monumental task” to bring R. Tillerson up to speed on the full agenda of the Secretary of State, when compared to the task of bringing Kushner up to speed for a handful of specific negotiations.

    Why do you think that? So far we’ve seen some fine work from Tillerson, and people really appreciate what he’s doing. What has Kushner done so far? Maybe I’ve missed it. I would also suggest that if I were ranting and raving about Kushner, I would accept your comparing me to the Nevers. Since my tone has been one of concern and, I think, reason, I’m disappointed that you would characterize my comments that way. This sounds more like a Trump fan who doesn’t want any criticism of things connected to Trump. You can certainly disagree with my analysis, but indirect name-calling is unfair. And what’s that “Contributor Susan Q.” about? I’ve been a contributor for a long time. Is that a problem for you?

    • #11
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:26 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    Here is a long article from Forbes about J. Kushner’s role in the Trump campaign. It is worth reading because it gives a ton of background on Kushner and it explains why Trump would want him involved in several dicey tasks.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2016/11/22/exclusive-interview-how-jared-kushner-won-trump-the-white-house/#47f0de143af6

    First of all, the article was written back in December before he was loaded up with all the responsibilities Trump has given him. Second, it focused on his running of the Trump campaign and his family background. I’m sure he’s bright, talented, likeable, and capable, but the article provides no reassurance that he will do well in the Trump administration.

    • #12
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:33 PM PST
    • Like
  13. Trink Coolidge

    Susan Quinn: he is a liberal

    Susan Quinn: It doesn’t bode well.

    Case closed.

    • #13
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:33 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    GLDIII (View Comment):
    I think you have a better shot and eliminating and “merging” government functions and then starving (i.e. $$) the new entities so it is forced to re-evaluate what are their real priorities with a new line item budget. The chaos that entails make it harder for the entrenched factions to get attention to their interests.

    I agree, GLDIII! I would be very happy to see consolidation and getting rid of lots of areas. This is one area where I think his skills and background are a solid match.

    • #14
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:35 PM PST
    • Like
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Trink (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: he is a liberal

    Susan Quinn: It doesn’t bode well.

    Case closed.

    Actually his being a liberal was my husband’s greatest concern. Hopefully he’ll remember that he acts on behalf of the president. Thanks, Trink.

    • #15
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:58 PM PST
    • Like
  16. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    GLDIII (View Comment):
    I think you have a better shot and eliminating and “merging” government functions and then starving (i.e. $$) the new entities so it is forced to re-evaluate what are their real priorities with a new line item budget. The chaos that entails make it harder for the entrenched factions to get attention to their interests.

    I agree, GLDIII! I would be very happy to see consolidation and getting rid of lots of areas. This is one area where I think his skills and background are a solid match.

    Yes because that is how businesses survive. I hope the process can be transfer to Government. It is the only way I know that you can pare down the GS work force without completely dispiriting the ones who survive the normal process. The dog eat dog process of a standard and small ball lowering of the federal work force (called riffing) is very corrosive, and you will not see any productivity for 5 to 10 years after an organization goes through that process (see NASA post Apollo). A quick and clean combining of several outfits, but with a reduce set of responsibilities/objectives (with the a scaled budget to match) is more merciful.

    • #16
    • May 7, 2017, at 4:59 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    GLDIII (View Comment):
    Yes because that is how businesses survive. I hope the process can be transfer to Government. It is the only way I know that you can pare down the GS work force without completely dispiriting the ones who survive the normal process. The dog eat dog process of a standard and small ball lowering of the federal work force (called riffing) is very corrosive, and you will not see any productivity for 5 to 10 years after an organization goes through that process (see NASA post Apollo). A quick and clean combining of several outfits, but with a reduce set of responsibilities/objectives (with the a scaled budget to match) is more merciful.

    One of my biggest concerns is that Obama so bloated the government with agencies and personnel that there will be tons of people out of jobs. Like you say, we can hope to pare down without dispiriting those who are left behind.

    • #17
    • May 7, 2017, at 5:04 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Front Seat Cat Member

    My intuition on Kushner mirrors your Susan. I don’t know what it is, but I am concerned. It’s a weird list of tasks that he’s been given. Netanyahu seems pleased and I heard him say that he has known the Kushner family for years and seems comfortable with him as a liaison. I don’t think Netanyahu has felt comfortable in years. However, being in real estate is hardly credentials for being a key part of brokering a peace deal. There is something about him I am not entirely comfortable with – it’s just a feeling. His expression never changes – for one. I hope he succeeds and being a son-in-law, of course he has the love and respect of the president. Let’s see what happens in the near future. He bears a close watch.

    • #18
    • May 7, 2017, at 5:48 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Profile Photo Member

    “Jared Kushner’s Sister Woos Chinese Investors With Green Card Program.”

    Tom Cotton in 2020.

    • #19
    • May 7, 2017, at 5:49 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    My intuition on Kushner mirrors your Susan. I don’t know what it is, but I am concerned. It’s a weird list of tasks that he’s been given. Netanyahu seems pleased and I heard him say that he has known the Kushner family for years and seems comfortable with him as a liaison. I don’t think Netanyahu has felt comfortable in years. However, being in real estate is hardly credentials for being a key part of brokering a peace deal. There is something about him I am not entirely comfortable with – it’s just a feeling. His expression never changes – for one. I hope he succeeds and being a son-in-law, of course he has the love and respect of the president. Let’s see what happens in the near future. He bears a close watch.

    I wasn’t aware that Netanyahu likes him or least says so publicly. That is reassuring. Then again, it would be awkward to say otherwise this early on. Time will tell. Thanks, FSC.

    • #20
    • May 7, 2017, at 6:06 PM PST
    • Like
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    BD1 (View Comment):
    “Jared Kushner’s Sister Woos Chinese Investors With Green Card Program.”

    Tom Cotton in 2020.

    I’m all for Cotton, too! Just curious on the first one–what am I missing?

    • #21
    • May 7, 2017, at 6:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. MJBubba Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Since my tone has been one of concern and, I think, reason, I’m disappointed that you would characterize my comments that way. This sounds more like a Trump fan who doesn’t want any criticism of things connected to Trump. You can certainly disagree with my analysis, but indirect name-calling is unfair. And what’s that “Contributor Susan Q.” about? I’ve been a contributor for a long time. Is that a problem for you?

    I think your concern is overblown, and, since it is a very near copy of things I have seen recently from Leftists and from NeverTrumps, I detected a parallel. Especially since the only basis you expressed for your concern is his youth and he “is a liberal.”

    The Nevers have been telling us for nearly two years that Trump “is a liberal,” and he has nominated the most conservative cabinet since Reagan. Perhaps my assessment that your concern is overblown can be understood in that context. Especially considering the things that Trump has had to say with respect to Israel.

    As near as I can tell, Kushner does have some pretty liberal positions, but many of his known positions would best be described as “centrist.” And, either way, the tasks assigned are not necessarily requiring of a conservative worldview in order to achieve satisfactory results.

    I am interested in criticism of Trump and Team Trump from the right. I am unhappy with criticism that is purely speculative and is a copy of what we get from the Left and the Nevers.

    As for name-calling, I beg your pardon. I was simply characterizing a position that appeared to me to be unwarranted anxiety and described it as “seems like Nervous Nellie.” I suppose that crosses the line. I meant only to express my sentiment that the level of anxiety that was expressed in your post is out of proportion. And I did not mean to call you either “Leftist” or “NeverTrump,” I was simply pointing out a parallel. A similarity of argument. An “echo.”

    As for the use of your title, I made the use of Ricochet titles a habit for the past few months, due to severe criticism by Ricochet staff for not making distinctions as to their occasional participation as members versus their appearances in official capacities. Since this is not an instance of you participating as a member on someone else’s post, then this is your participation as a Contributor. No slight was intended. I am just trying to play by the rules, including the unwritten rules.

    • #22
    • May 7, 2017, at 7:32 PM PST
    • Like
  23. The Reticulator Member

    GLDIII (View Comment):
    I lived thru AlGore’s (that is one word) reinventing Government campaign. Government refused to be “reinvented”, and look where AlGore is now. Sad.

    I think you have a better shot and eliminating and “merging” government functions and then starving (i.e. $$) the new entities so it is forced to re-evaluate what are their real priorities with a new line item budget. The chaos that entails make it harder for the entrenched factions to get attention to their interests.

    Isn’t it unconstitutional to reinvent government without going through the amendment process?

    • #23
    • May 7, 2017, at 10:43 PM PST
    • 1 like
  24. Zafar Member

    Is it normal in America for the President to appoint his relatives to positions of influence? It would (does) set off alarm bells in India, but perhaps you have stronger safe guards in place.

    • #24
    • May 8, 2017, at 1:44 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Profile Photo Member

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Did you see John Olivers extended hit on him? Start @9:45 (language)

    I didn’t see it, Dave; just as well. I don’t like Oliver. But I’d like to think that although our assessments are similar, I did a better job at being fair and objective!

    Of course you did!

    I don’t dislike Oliver, unlike the smarmy Bill Maher, but you know it’s always going to be brutal. I watch because this is where many ‘enlightened ones’ are educated on the news. Knowing what progs will spew before they open their government cheese holes makes it so much more entertaining for the listener.

    But then you have to listen to it twice.

    • #25
    • May 8, 2017, at 2:54 AM PST
    • 1 like
  26. Profile Photo Member

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    Here is a long article from Forbes about J. Kushner’s role in the Trump campaign. It is worth reading because it gives a ton of background on Kushner and it explains why Trump would want him involved in several dicey tasks.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2016/11/22/exclusive-interview-how-jared-kushner-won-trump-the-white-house/#47f0de143af6

    This is an excellent article. If it is half right, Kushner is likely more competent than anyone we’ve had in diplomacy for a long time. For example, I doubt he would think to return a bust of Churchill to the UK, or give the Queen a gift of the recordings of his speeches. It’s amazing the British haven’t bombed us yet.

    • #26
    • May 8, 2017, at 3:01 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Manny Member

    Very good point Susan. I was thinking along similar lines about his wife (Trump’s daughter) but it is a power couple and they certainly are not conservative. I don’t trust Ivanka or Kushner.

    • #27
    • May 8, 2017, at 4:48 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. I Walton Member

    He’s young, lacks government experience and is used to being one of the smartest guys in the room, this generally means he’ll have an exaggerated sense of what is knowable and an underdeveloped sense of why the government is inept and gets worse with time. I just want the Federal government downsized and its power decimated. As to diplomacy we need old hands who have a sense of what can’t be done but also know and lived through enough diplomatic history to know that not being able to fix the world doesn’t mean not leading it, that we must be engaged almost everywhere. Young inexperienced people lack these things so our hope must be that Mattis and Tillerson don’t allow him much room to operate alone. Use him to give emphasis and assurances when the President wants emphasis, but control him and always make sure there is a note taker and that he belongs to Tillerson or Mattis.

    • #28
    • May 8, 2017, at 4:51 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. Manny Member

    MJBubba (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Since my tone has been one of concern and, I think, reason, I’m disappointed that you would characterize my comments that way. This sounds more like a Trump fan who doesn’t want any criticism of things connected to Trump. You can certainly disagree with my analysis, but indirect name-calling is unfair. And what’s that “Contributor Susan Q.” about? I’ve been a contributor for a long time. Is that a problem for you?

    I think your concern is overblown, and, since it is a very near copy of things I have seen recently from Leftists and from NeverTrumps, I detected a parallel. Especially since the only basis you expressed for your concern is his youth and he “is a liberal.”

    I hope you’re right, but if truly he is a Liberal then why would the concern be unfounded? The question is what are his positions, and we know so little about them. Do you?

    • #29
    • May 8, 2017, at 5:01 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. The Reticulator Member

    Zafar (View Comment):
    Is it normal in America for the President to appoint his relatives to positions of influence? It would (does) set off alarm bells in India, but perhaps you have stronger safe guards in place.

    It didn’t work out well when the Clintons did it.

    • #30
    • May 8, 2017, at 5:26 AM PST
    • 3 likes