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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Dead Eyes and Cold Heart of Jared Kushner

The poster boy for presidential nepotism shows his true colors.

Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The dead eyes of Jared Kushner always give up the game. His voice, a nasally trill from the depths of inherited privilege, cracks slightly under the weight of racist cliche-mongering. His usual verbal nervous tick—a recurring "right?"—is missing from the word salad of projected Black victimization that flows like sewage from his razor-thin lips:

"One thing we've seen in a lot of the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump's policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they're complaining about," the dead-eyed son-in-law of the would-be Sun King said. "But he [Donald Trump] can't want them to be successful more than they want to be successful."

Yes, you heard that right, folks. Little Lord Fauntleroy in the skinny suit actually said on the biggest morning cable news show in America that his father-in-law is more eager for Black success than the majority of Blacks who vote Democratic.

His audience, the dim-witted Kewpie Dolls of "FOX & Friends," received Mr. Kushner's sociological insight without blinking. After all, what Mr. Kushner said so blithely was in tune with right-wing orthodoxy. There's nothing controversial in their vanilla-dipped world about insinuating that Black people generally lack the je ne sais quoi that comes naturally to those born on third base.

According to this same orthodoxy, Blacks don't feel pain as much as white people, which is why police feel compelled to use more bullets to kill us. Black women hardly feel pain during childbirth, so they don't need as much pain-killing drugs or attention. Just let them squat in a corner, give birth, and send them on their merry way the same day. Oh, and Donald Trump has done more for Black Americans than any other president, except, maybe Abraham Lincoln, if you grade the so-called Great Emancipator on a curve.

Mr. Kushner is probably feeling like that annoying white friend that every Black person has who feels he can drop the occasional "n-word" in mixed company just because he hears his Black friends doing it.

Little Lord Kushner is running around with a lot of Black guys who give him permission by virtue of being thirsty for access to the corridors of power in the Trump White House.

There's Kanye West, of course, who parlayed his bipolar disorder into a televised meeting with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. Last week, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson endorsed President Trump for a second term based on his tax policy—it boils down to Fiddy's desire to not pay taxes at all.

Recently, N.W.A. co-founder Ice Cube who launched a savage rap attack against Mr. Trump just a few years ago, revealed that he had been in secret talks with the administration and that elements of his own "Contract with Black America" were massaged into the administration's "Platinum Plan for Black America," though he can't say exactly what was used besides the grist of his reputation.

Mr. Kushner's other "Black friends" include gangsta Republican Candace Owens and slightly chagrined CNN contributor Van Jones, who, to be fair, is a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, but seems to have a soft spot for Mr. Kushner. Apparently they're on the phone with each other a lot exchanging ideas about "third ways" and "new paradigms" for reimagining American politics. Mr. Jones' naiveté gets called out whenever his friend, Little Lord Kushner, makes one of his little slips.

But as bad as Mr. Kushner is on the racial politics of this era, it is his performance as Mr. Trump's "brain" during a pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black people that will forever etch his name in the annals of infamy and Washington incompetence.

When Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward was working on his book Rage, Mr. Trump urged him to interview his big-mouthed son-in-law for what he hoped would be a positive take on his handling of Covid-19. Instead he told the damning truth that the administration decided to ignore the scientists and pursue a politics of irresponsibility as the most efficient way to a second term, despite the likelihood of an unthinkable death toll.

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The recording of Mr. Kushner gushing about his father-in-law's cynicism and tactical cleverness are devastating: "There were three phases" to America's reaction to the spread of Covid-19, Mr. Kushner said.

"There was the panic phase, the pain phase, and then the comeback phase. I do believe that last night [April 17] symbolized kind of the beginning of the comeback phase."

"That doesn't mean there's not still a lot of pain and there won't be pain for a while, but that basically was, we've now put out rules to get back to work. Trump's now back in charge. It's not the doctors. They've kind of—we have, like, a negotiated settlement."

What is it that makes Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner confess their crimes to America's most-celebrated investigative reporter when they know he's taping them? It's like those corny James Bond villains spilling the intricacies of their plans for world domination to 007 before he inevitably escapes and foils the plot. 

On the day Mr. Kushner was bragging about Mr. Trump taking America back from the doctors, the president was signaling support to the militias storming the steps of state capitols with "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," and "LIBERATE VIRGINIA" tweets.

It was a time when America was quickly approaching the 50,000-dead-from-Covid-19 threshold and the president still wanted churches opened by Easter.

Ever the adoring son-in-law, Mr. Kushner tried to make socially acceptable the preposterous notions of his wife's father, no matter how crazy what he said on any given day was.

Mr. Kushner tells every interviewer who brings it up that his father-in-law long ago forsook political correctness for the sake of plain spoken-ness. At no point does he ever acknowledge the tsunami of lies that pours from Mr. Trump's mouth every day.

Mr. Kushner gave up the game of pretending to care one whit about America by bragging about the fact that Mr. Trump has put the lives of the American people as a secondary concern when it comes to his reelection.

Earlier this week, Mr. Trump unilaterally declared the pandemic over even as cases soar to historic heights. I'm 1,000% sure Mr. Trump has never read George Orwell's "1984" or any book in the last half century, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have that authoritarian's unerring instinct for gaslighting and "doublespeak."

In the off chance that Mr. Trump can't come up with the right words, there's always Little Lord Kushner with his dead eyes and cold-heart waiting in the wings to explain everything.

Tony Norman

Tony Norman

Tony Norman is a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist. He was once the Post-Gazette’s pop music/pop culture critic and appeared as an expert on cultural issues on local radio talk shows and television programs. In 1996, he began writing an award-winning general interest column, which, he says, rejuvenated his enthusiasm for the kind of journalism that makes a difference.

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