There are a lot of infuriating motherfuckers in the Trump administration, but after every bubbling controversy, my strongest ire consistently circles back to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. These two are the worst because they’re the ones who pretend not to be the worst, who fancy themselves ambassadors of poise and competency, floating above an ever-spiraling presidential administration and an ever-spiraling country.
So nothing could be more delightful than the news that these sniveling phonies are in the sewers of misery with the rest of us. And if this week’s long, searing story in Vanity Fair is to be believed, that’s exactly where they are.
Sarah Ellison’s piece seems to have prompted a response from the President of the United States himself, which is the best possible endorsement of it:
This “ferocious anger” consists of Ellison using very plain, refreshing language to describe Jared, Ivanka, and Trump’s presidency, refusing to dance around the horrors thrust upon the American people by these idiots who clearly don’t want to be in the White House anyway. The perspective might best be summed up by this paragraph deep down in the story:
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.”
I’ve thought a lot about why even a photo of Jared and Ivanka makes me viscerally angry in a way that even photos of Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller do not: They think they can be the sympathetic ones. They’re the good guys. They’re the ones telling reporters from the New York Times over and over that they tried, they tried to stop whatever savage harmful whim Donald Trump has run with today. They went into the White House as the counterexample to every ugly expression of rage that carried the Trump campaign: Kushner is devoutly Jewish, Ivanka is a woman, they have friends in respectable liberal circles—can’t you see, good people have allies, allies who not only have the president’s ear, but are inherently indispensable through their relation to him.
But when things go south, as they always, always do: Wow, would you look at that. Another vacation. Who wouldn’t need time off? It must be exhausting to wake up every day as duplicitous morons, finding yourself more and more implicated in the corruption that’s apparently running rampant in America’s highest office.
The Vanity Fair story makes it clear that pretty much everyone with firsthand exposure to Jared and Ivanka hates them too. Their cravenness is not a secret; it’s a widely visible, strategic position the two have adopted.
They crave power, no matter the cost, with appetites whetted by their former careers as business people in New York City, underwritten by their famous, corrupt-as-shit fathers. And they know everyone knows it, but who cares?
What value do friendships have when they are unable to further your career, power, or bank account? Ellison reports:
“I haven’t had anything to do with them since they moved,” said one New York friend, “and it is because the day that man gave an inaugural speech, what am I going to say? ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ ”
From a liberal anti-Trump position, though, Jared and Ivanka’s bull-in-a-china-shop entitlement has had its good side. Ellison indicates that the president’s associates generally blame Kushner for the leak campaign that forced out Steve Bannon and possibly even for letting out the news of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian agent.
But it doesn’t sound as if any of the scheming has included a plausible end game for the couple. Ellison makes multiple references to Jared and Ivanka’s eventual, possibly premature departure from the White House. One person told her:
“When they decide it’s more important to protect their own and their children’s reputations than it is to defend their indefensible father’s, that’s a sign the end is near,” one influential Republican donor told me.
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.
Oddly enough, the slimy men complicit in Trump’s tornado who’ve been shunted out will be okay in the end. Everyone surrounding the president knows he’s not worth shit—they’re opportunists, pulling Trump in competing directions, knowing that if they can get their agenda onto Fox & Friends it’ll sail onto his itinerary. But whereas Sean Spicer—who, Ellison notes was “relegated to the back of the plane” while the president drafted Donald Jr.’s first response—and Steve Bannon, who is already back at Breitbart, will likely maintain their career trajectories, bruises and all, Jared and Ivanka stand no chance of disentangling their identity from that of the president.
For Jared and Ivanka, there’s no way out. They are complicit in this administration maybe more than any other people in Trump’s orbit. They will trudge on, hoping to find positive nuggets for which to take credit for and controversies from which to find distance, but despite their naïve and insincere optimism in January, there is no good in this presidency.
They want to be defined by the small, inconsequential victories. But they are defined, in fact, by the president’s biggest failures. Their actions, from the careful wording to leaks to vacations, indicate that only a few months in, they know this, too. 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.