No, Jared Is Not Going “To Get Us All Killed”, But He Shows The Value Of Familial Distancing In A Pandemic

The New York Times ran a column this morning with the sensational headline “Jared Kushner Is Going To Get Us All Killed.” The sudden appearance of Kushner as a main player in the task force on the Covid-19 was highlighted with his appearance at yesterday’s press conference. He was preceded by a formal thank you to Ivanka Trump for her efforts. While many have criticized statements made by Kushner in the press conference, I thought his points were well taken like noting that some mayors and governors have failed in this crisis while others have excelled. Nevertheless, I have been a critic of the inclusion of Kushner and Ivanka Trump on the White House staff since it was announced because it is a form of raw nepotism. (See here, here, and here and here) I have also been a long critic of such nepotism by members of Congress. The sudden thrusting of the two to the forefront of this crisis is remarkably harmful to the Administration and its efforts. I have been highly impressed, and relieved, by the superb team assembled by the task force. I believe that they have been doing an outstanding job.

For that reason, I have no idea why it was necessary to suddenly put the President’s family into the mix and rekindle the long controversy over nepotism. With some polls showing the majority of the public opposed to the White House response, this was a critical press conference where impressive data was to be disclosed on the federal distribution of essential materials. Rather than ride that possible news, Trump threw Kushner into the mix and his role promptly washed out the coverage on the success of the task force.

The column by Michele Goldberg runs through the long list of criticism over Kushner and his history in business. His critics insist that he has had a series of colossal failures before joining the White House and continued that record with such disasters as his Middle East peace plan. However, there is little reason to believe that he will endanger anyone on the task force. His comments seemed to be well-informed and focused on the issues. Some criticism that he showed a lack of knowledge, like not understanding how a federal stockpile works, are unfair and exaggerated. That does not mean that I believe this was a wise move. It is not. It was wrong for John F. Kennedy to appoint his brother at Attorney General and wrong for Bill Clinton to make Hillary Clinton the head of the health care task force. Those wrongs do not make this right. Just as I opposed the inclusion of any family member on the White House staff (a position I have held for decades in writing against nepotism in Washington), I think his inclusion on a pandemic task force magnifies those problems (and political costs) a hundred fold.

The weird aspect to all of this is the timing. President Trump has assembled an amazing team of top experts in medicine, emergency relief, and transportation. Critics have had to acknowledge the strength of that team. I still do not believe that this task force has been given sufficient credit for its work in this crisis. Yet, the fruits of that work are now appearing as resources ramp up across the country. Then the White House decided to inject this controversy into the mix — inviting cries of objections over family connections trumping expertise on a crisis where thousands may die. Why?

The column captures the tsunami of objections this morning well:

“The president was reportedly furious over the website debacle, but Kushner’s authority hasn’t been curbed. Politico reported that Kushner, “alongside a kitchen cabinet of outside experts including his former roommate and a suite of McKinsey consultants, has taken charge of the most important challenges facing the federal government,” including the production and distribution of medical supplies and the expansion of testing. Kushner has embedded his own people in the Federal Emergency Management Agency; a senior official described them to The Times as “a ‘frat party’ that descended from a U.F.O. and invaded the federal government.'”

Those concerns are not confined to anti-Trump critics. There is a legitimate reason to be discomforted by the appearance of the President’s son-in-law in such a key position. With projections of up to 240,000 deaths coming from the White House, the public wants to see people at the helm who are the top of their fields — relevant fields to this pandemic.

If this makes no management sense, it makes even less political sense. When the Administration is winning over some critics in aspects of its pandemic response, it decided to create a new and easy target for criticism. Critics can now spread doubt over the basis for the President’s decisions. Whatever position Kushner holds (and that remains undefined), he described making high level calls and directives on resources that could make the difference of life and death for thousands.

While I have opposed his appointment to the staff on nepotism grounds, I have never joined critics in attacking Kushner’s intelligence or background. I have never met him and many accounts of his past often seem highly biased, if not rabid. He clearly has had some success in life. However, at the time of one of our greatest challenges as a nation, the President owes it to the public to show that he is bringing in people who are the very best of their fields based entirely on their records, not their family associations.

This is why in a pandemic it is essential to engage in familial distancing in the management of the crisis.

270 thoughts on “No, Jared Is Not Going “To Get Us All Killed”, But He Shows The Value Of Familial Distancing In A Pandemic”

  1. The level of incompetence from the impeached President and his choices of people of responsibility only matches the level of willful ignorance from his cult of believers.

  2. National Review: Trump Doesn’t Feel Impeachment Distracted Him From Virus

    A reporter asked President Trump this week what he thought of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that impeachment distracted Trump from tackling the coronavirus epidemic earlier.

    The president gave a rambling answer but ultimately settled on a firm no.

    “I don’t think I would have done better had I not been impeached, OK?” Trump said. “And I think that’s a great tribute to something. Maybe it’s a tribute to me. But I don’t think I would’ve acted any differently or I don’t think I would’ve acted any faster.”

    Trump’s response threw cold water on what was becoming a common talking point on the right. A week earlier, Henry Olsen, a very Trump-sympathetic columnist for the Washington Post, had written a column headlined, “Let’s be honest. Impeachment hurt Trump’s response to coronavirus.” As China was locking down its cities, Olsen argued, “the White House was focused on addressing this threat to its survival, not on preparing for a threat from China that might never even materialize.”

    As Trump repeatedly reminds us, he made a tough and controversial decision to curtail travel from China early on. That was the right thing to do. But it was only a wise decision because it bought us time to marshal resources to fight the inevitable outbreak here in the States. Then, the administration didn’t use that time wisely and failed to adequately prepare.

    Consider that both South Korea and the United States recorded their first confirmed case on January 20. South Korea immediately went into overdrive with testing, social distancing, and contact tracing. The U.S. did not. The fact that South Korea has the pandemic under relative control and the U.S. doesn’t speaks volumes.

    But the White House insists that the president always took the threat seriously.

    “I don’t believe the president has ever belittled the threat of the coronavirus,” Vice President Mike Pence said this week, despite countless examples of the president belittling the threat of the coronavirus.

    1. ““I don’t think I would have done better had I not been impeached, OK?” ”

      Let us assume that is true. However, Trump has one door into the office and many people that wish to go through. Most don’t get in because other ideas are considered more important at the time and there is limited opportunity to cross over the doors threshold. What would have happened if under normal circumstances someone wanted to discuss pandemic preparedness and in doing so alerted him to things he knew in general but not in specific. That person might have changed history if he could have gotten through the door but others dealing with everything surrounding impeachment got in instead of that person.

      We don’t know, but it can be said with certainty that the impeachment process could have made this pandemic worse for America. That puts blood on the hands of Democrats such as Pelosi and Schumer even if the impeachment weren’t a proximate cause.

      1. Diaper Man, again, show us a soundbite of a high level Republican expressing concern for the pandemic during the impeachment trial. No such clips exist. In fact it was actually Democrats who expressed concern during the impeachment trial. They were making documented inquiries while rightwing media kept minimizing the danger.

        1. ” again, show us a soundbite of a high level Republican expressing concern for the pandemic during the impeachment trial. ”

          Paint Chips, Donald Trump had lots of soundbites some short enough with small enough words so even you could understand.

          Now tell us about Pelosi and the other Democrats that have blood on their hands.

          As far as your diaper order, did you want Maxi Pads? There is a sale going on for “Always”.

          1. Show us those soundbites of Trump expressing concern. They don’t exist. Health And Human Services Secretary Alex Azar first briefed Trump on the pandemic on January 18. Yet publicly Trump kept minimizing the danger until the stock market crashed In early March.

              1. Lawfare outfit files frivolous suit. Peter is pleased.

            1. You can blame Democrats for most of the bad things because they wanted the country to fail so their candidate could be elected. Democrats have blood on their hands and you can’t raise a reasonable argument otherwise.

              One does not openly attempt to destroy the stock market which is what the left and the media were intent on doing. One could see glee in their eyes.

              Now explain Nancy Pelosi’s actions. So far a total zero and she delayed checks to Americans in need

              Explain the time line. Trump used action. Airline restrictions in January and chinese travelers ban 5 days after Fauci said we were at low risk and 5 days before the end of the impeachment hearings. Paint Chips uses talk, talk and more talk while never saying anything.

              You sound like a fool repeating the same question despite the actions taken by Trump and the negative actions by al.

              1. You mean our backup president is totally on it and will save us all soon?

                A few months, just a few more months never seemed so far off…

                1. No mouth, I mean to get back at the President Democrats like Nancy Pelosi did while pushing the American people to do the exact opposite of what Fauci and the experts have been saying, social distancing. That, handwashing and not touching one’s face might have been enough to stop the pandemic. Unfortunately the Democrats like Pelosi hate Trump more than they love America.

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