In the spirit of full disclosure I haven’t read Jared Kushner’s new book, “Breaking History.” Before I will consider reading a book it must first satisfy one or more of the following requirements: a) it must be critically acclaimed, b) it must have an intriguing premise or c) it must deal with a topic I find intrinsically interesting. Kushner’s book fails on all three counts. But I can at least claim a public service in that I failed to read it in such a way that you won’t have to read it either.
I pulled that off by reading about it, and as you will shortly understand, that’s more than enough. From what I have read about it there are no surprises. Kushner is exactly the person Dr Dunning and Dr Kruger had in mind when they wrote their famous paper on their eponymous effect. Jared Kushner is a man wholly out of his depth. And if somehow “Breaking History” is a play on “Breaking Bad,” his sense of humour isn’t exactly all that great either.
Anyway, for one thing he lacks the charm of some people in his situation. Perhaps you know the kind: some people who are plunged into a difficult situation can be endearing as they humbly try to feel their way to a resolution. Kushner isn’t that type. Instead, Kushner elbows his way through the crowd and strides across the stage like a man who thinks he knows what he’s doing, and in fact he knows it better than anyone else. He then proceeds to inundate people with formulaic speeches and cringe-worthy, obvious advice.
Jared Kushner is a man upon whom privilege has smiled with such abundance that he actually thinks he has somehow merited it. But that’s nothing new. People with incredible good luck sometimes confuse that good luck with skill. It’s painfully obvious to everyone in the room but Kushner that he’s way out of his league.
He also doesn’t lie very convincingly. “What is clear to me,” Kushner says in the book, writing about January 6th, “is that no one at the White House expected violence that day. I’m confident that if my colleagues or the president had anticipated violence, they would have prevented it from happening.” The Washington DC police and virtually everyone else close to the situation that day tell a very different story.
My favorite overheard quote from the book is the part where, after January 6 and in the shadow of a second impending impeachment, Kushner addresses a distinctly dispirited White House staff. “You took an oath to the country,” he recalls telling them. “This is a moment when we have to do what’s right, not what’s popular. If the country is better off with you here, then stay. If it doesn’t matter, then do what you want.” I imagine there was a lot of eye-rolling going on over that one.
Kushner is well known for dripping hauteur everywhere he goes. He has a knack for making enemies quickly. (He and Steve Bannon became bitter enemies right away. Kushner claims that he got Bannon fired, a claim that might have some truth in it.) Heads shake, eyes roll and foreheads get slapped just about every time Kushner exits a room.
In classic Kushner style, the New York Times reported that Kushner, in preparing to write the book, took a crash online MasterClass from thriller writer James Patterson. Once the course was completed he considered himself worthy of writing a whole book on his own. Apparently his publisher disagreed and found him some help from Ken Kurson, a former editor of the New York Observer, and a couple of other writers. (Kurson was pardoned by Kushner’s father-in-law, Donald Trump, after being convicted of cyberstalking.)
As if all this isn’t enough, during an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday afternoon, Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, claimed there are a multitude of reasons to believe that Jared Kushner is the FBI informant working with the Justice Department before the Mar-a-Lago search — possibly to avoid a criminal investigation of his own. The mystery in question was how Kushner managed to get a $2 billion business deal with the Saudis without getting investigated for it. Holy Hunter Biden, Batman.
One Trump follower described Jared Kushner’s “Breaking History” as “just 493 pages of pure boredom.” Not unlike Kushner himself, who is similarly six feet and three inches of pure boredom. I urgently recommend you not read his book. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.