Home / General / “[L]et him who aspires to such station, and is not one of the Medici, favour Liberty and the popular Power.”

“[L]et him who aspires to such station, and is not one of the Medici, favour Liberty and the popular Power.”

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Photo: Alex Brandon, AP
Photo: Alex Brandon, AP

With only superficial changes, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld‘s new piece in Politico could have appeared—at one time or another—in a pro-government outlet in, say, Azerbaijan, North Korea, or Syria. Simply  substitute Jared Kushner’s name for that of Ilham Aliyev, Kim Jung-Un, Bashar al-Assad, or some other princeling—and we’re in business.

Honestly, the whole thing is such a dumpster fire that it’s hard to know where to begin.

By virtue of their close relationship with the president, Jared and Ivanka are able to speak truth to power without fear of suspect motives. This is a major advantage of family enterprises. The great merchant banking families were able to cover the globe, operating in distant seaports, with primitive communication and painfully slow transportation by dispatching family members as their emissaries in these far off lands. With shared values, deeper bonds of trust, greater respect for risk taking, and longer time frames, family dynastic wealth has been a huge force in the success of global enterprises. Today, companies like Ford, Wal-Mart, Mars Inc., and Campbell Soup still benefit from large family stakes and faith in the mission of the enterprise.

If I were setting out to defend the transformation of governance—in the world’s oldest extant democratic republic, no less—into a family business, I would probably not start out by genuflecting toward the Medici or invoking the same features of kinship-based trust networks that work well for organized criminal enterprises. But, then again, I’m not the Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies & Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at the Yale School of Business.

What follows—after some noncommittal material about possible conflicts of interest and the fact that observant Jews don’t work on the Sabbath—is a long list of inexperienced people that held powerful positions in the White House. Sonnenfeld sprinkles in examples of insular and inbred administrations. The fact that many of these arrangements—the Nixon administration, the early Clinton years—proved deeply dysfunctional seems besides the point.

For Sonnenfeld Kushner is just like Kissinger—except for the record of scholarship and policy profile—or Harry Hopkins—except for a twenty-some year history in government and non-government service to the public welfare. Also, experienced hands in the Bush Administration brought us Iraq, Thus, nepotistic self-dealing at the highest levels of American government is totally fine. Because reasons. It’s particularly rich to read all of this forty-eight hours after we learned that Kushner met with Russian officials—and failed to disclose those meetings on the application for his security clearance. That’s enough, by the way, to get people stripped of their clearances and fired.

But, not to worry, because Sonnenfeld assures us, based—as best I can tell—on no evidence other than his conversations with Donald Trump, that Kushner is the bee’s knees.

Perhaps, too, it is time to stop the needless bomb-hurling at Kushner, a trustworthy, objective, smart, fresh voice working in the national interest, who unlike some of his colleagues in the White House, appears to work effectively and quietly with real facts and analysis rather than with public pronouncements, tweets, “alternative facts,” or threats.

As Daniel Drezner puts it:

I suppose that this might be amusing as a clickbait-y exercise in counter-intuitive punditry. Except that it’s actually rather frightening. No matter how smart, or capable,  Jared Kushner is…. well, it doesn’t actually matter. Indeed, I agree with Sonnenfeld that I’d rather have Kushner making policy than Bannon or Miller. So what? There are plenty of smart, capable, and even qualified people who could fill Kushner’s roles without eroding the foundations of our system of government. Essays like Sonnenfald’s normalize the destruction of norms that keep the United States from sliding into an outright kleptocracy, oligarchy, or banana republic.

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  • thebewilderness

    He’s gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse, I guess.

  • SoRefined

    So is the ticket Trump/Kushner in 2020, or Trump/Trump?

    • D. C. Sessions

      Which Trumps?

      • SoRefined

        Any of ’em but Tiffany.

      • sigaba

        Katie knows.

    • Warren Terra

      You don't think they'd be worried about having to forego New York State's electoral votes for Vice President by running two people from the same state?

      • CrunchyFrog

        Worked for the Bush/Cheney all-Texas ticket. The courts will accept any window dressing to cover up such shit.

        • SoRefined

          The VP end of the ticket will just claim DC residency, easy peasy.

          • Lurking Canadian

            If the Republican ticket in 2020 is worried about how to get full credit for the electoral votes from New York, we will already be so thoroughly fucked that our only option will be to bend over and kiss our own asses good bye.

            • Warren Terra

              Well, yeah, hence the sarcasm font.

              • cpinva

                I think that’s going to have to be made official, since many people are confused by it.

                • efgoldman

                  since many people are confused by it.

                  Some of us are confused, period.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          “Worked for the Bush/Cheney all-Texas ticket. The courts will accept any window dressing to cover up such shit.”

          Yeah, damn those stupid “founder” dudes for not putting in an “enforcement provision”, such as “summary execution”, and “heads on sticks”.

          Would have saved a lot of trouble, it would.

          • Hogan

            Those wise and cultured gentlemen who will no doubt serve as electors would never do such a thing.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    My offer, Mr Jinping, is this: nothing.

    • DamnYankees

      Technically it would be Mr. Xi.

      Jinping is his given name.

      • Lurking Canadian

        You think Trump knows enough about Chinese culture to understand that?

        • Hogan

          My offer, Mr. Chinky Chinky Chinaman, is this . . . “

  • D. C. Sessions

    Essays like Sonnenfald’s normalize the destruction of norms that keep the United States from sliding into an outright kleptocracy, oligarchy, or banana republic.

    Good thing, isn’t it, that nobody wants that.

    • rm

      And while we devolve back to Renaissance political arrangements, the slow train of climate bears down on us.

      I don’t want to, like, give up hope or anything, or spread gloom. I mean, all we can do is try to defeat these motherfuckers. But history gives us enough examples of everything going wrong in a vicious self-reinforcing spiral. Earth is Rapa Nui on a bigger scale, maybe. I guess if there is anything I am saying the least bit hopeful, it’s that we should admit to ourselves right now that we already have an outright oligarchy/kleptocracy, and base our efforts on that knowledge.

      • Yankee

        If not, the Coleoids (the tentacled octopus) are showing good progress. Behavioral modification through RNA editing! Next is Berlin!

      • The Dark God of Time

        Some people on the right prefer feudalism to democracy because they tend to be tribal in their politics, like the Communists in the 1930s.

        • BruceJ

          Some the right prefer feudalism, because they imagine they’d be the dukes sitting in their warm castle surrounded by luxury, when in fact most of them would be serfs slaving away n the fields..

          • Derelict

            . . . when, in fact, most of them would have died either at birth or within the first three months of life.

            • Origami Isopod

              To get pedantic here for a minute, medieval child mortality rates were high, but they weren’t that high.

              • Q.E.Dumbass

                Is this tied to the fact that very few of the old Old World diseases* have an untreated lethality rate that breaks 50%? Or were they generally significantly higher than now because of historic malnourishment?

                *Excluding rabies and pneumonic/septicemic plague.**
                **And arguably syphilis, but evidence seems to indicate a New World origin.

          • PunditusMaximus

            The Right as a whole prefers feudalism to democracy, because the Right is motivated by sadism at the expense of their well being.

            The synecdoche being the woman who voted for Trump and got her husband deported thereby.

          • Solar System Wolf

            Because like medieval serfs, they’ve been talked into waiting to cash in their reward in heaven, instead of expecting decent treatment on earth.

            • cpinva

              for a small fee, they could get some decent earth treatment.

              • efgoldman

                for a small fee, they could get some decent earth treatment.

                Indulgences are being sold again? Nobody keeps me up to speed.

      • Dennis Orphen

        it’s that we should admit to ourselves right now that we already have an outright oligarchy/kleptocracy, and base our efforts on that knowledge.

        Exactly this. I’ve been accused here sometimes of being an ‘Eeyore’ or claiming we are all doomed (and no fun at parties to boot, way, way off the mark there). I’m not, and I don’t think we are irrevocably doomed. But we have to acknowledge and understand the nature of the beast attacking us to have any chance of success.

    • sigaba

      Good thing, isn’t it, that nobody wants that.

      You may not be interested in adverse selection, but adverse selection is very interested in you.

    • sharonT
  • Warren Terra

    Both because I think it’s true and because I suspect it might be politically effective, I think it’s important to dispel the notion that Jared and Ivanka (I’m trying to promote the portmanteau Ivred, which I prefer to another I’ve seen, Javanka) are important advisors to the President and meddling in various parts of the government. The truth is that to a very large degree they are the President.

    Donald Trump is a fat unhealthy old man who’s never studied and never worked a day in his life (to anyone else’s expectations). He is rumored to be near illiterate and is just staggeringly ignorant, and disinterested in ceasing to be so. He’s not inclined, perhaps not able, to perform most of the public functions of the President, and we have no idea how much if any of the private functions he is willing or able to address. When we see Jared in Iraq, or Ivanka visiting a school, or see one or the other of them sitting in on the President’s meetings with foreign leaders (I believe every such meeting has featured one of them, and am uncertain if any has featured both), they’re not intruding or meddling – they’re literally usurping.

    Most of the things they do, including Jared looking a bit silly and massively out of his depth in body armor on an Iraqi airfield, would be quite unremarkable if they were the President, and the President’s not going to do them. It all makes much more sense if you consider them to be the President, or perhaps to be part of a triune Presidency.

    PS not related to the above, I think I may physically assault the next person who proclaims, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever and in the teeth of quite some considerable proof to the contrary, that Ivanka or Jared, or Ivred, is a liberal. Even faintly.

    • dnexon

      ^So much this.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      seriously: very much agree

      less-seriously: “Ivred” sounds like an over-the-counter medicine, maybe an anti-inflammatory. “Javanka” sounds like either a island country run by a Bond villain or possibly a sport

      • wjts
      • SoRefined

        Ivred sounds similar to the name of the titular character in The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred.

        Javanka feels more like a name from one of those YA series where teens have to fight each other to the death to get out of the wasteland.

        So, dystopias all around.

      • Warren Terra

        In my mind “Ivred” sounds like the villain in a 80s or 90s F/SF B-movie or TV show, and Javanka sounds like a pleasant coffee drink or island destination, but obviously people react differently.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          coffee came to my mind as well- and there’s no reason a bond villain *couldn’t* live on a pleasant island. I mean, I imagine if you sit on the beach with your back to Mar-A-Lago it’s reasonably nice

          • Tehanu

            I like “Jarvanka,” myself. Reminds me of Jar Jar Binks.

            • Brett

              “Jaranka” flows better, I think.

              • Warren Terra

                I could go for that one.

              • Karen24

                Jaranka sounds like the name of a brightly-colored tropical plant, though.

            • Karen24

              I like this one because it really does sound like the name of a Bond villain.

        • altofront

          Javanka sounds like a pleasant coffee drink

          Or, as a portmanteau of Java and Sanka, an unpleasant coffee drink. Appropriate, in the sense of a pretty illusion concealing a putrid chemical swill, except that it does keep you up at night.

      • IS

        One problem I have with “Ivred” is that it’s taking the non-stressed parts of each name and sticking them together. Not to mention that “vanka” is the much more distinctive part of her name.

      • efgoldman

        “Javanka” sounds like either a island country run by a Bond villain or possibly a sport

        It sounds to me like the latest in the parade of 6347 new diabetes drugs.

        • DAS

          As a biochemist, I find drug commercials annoyingly useless and full of pointless fluff. Just tell me what the drug’s target receptor is, what other receptors it binds, what all the relevant binding constants are, what CYP450 proteins oxidize the dang thing and what it’s mode of delivery and half-life are. I don’t care that a pretty person is able to go hiking or wear a bathing suit because he’s taking some pill that causes him to pee sugar or she’s taking some injection that messes with her immune system so her immune system stops messing with her skin.

          • tsam

            I know, right? I never have once seen the molecular structure of any of those compounds. It’s like they think I’m not a chemist and would have zero clue what it does.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      more proof that blithering butthole can’t read

    • Cheerfull

      Every now and then I am talking to a person from a foreign country and he or she will furrow their brow and ask what T meant by doing or saying X (most recently Syria) and I respond with a now practiced rant that is less articulate and more vulgar than what you have so cogently noted above – i.e. T doesn’t really think or have policies or make plans and trying to find some consistency or evidence of reflection is a mug’s game. T struck Syria because some of the people around told him it would be a good idea. Who exactly those people are and why they thought so is an interesting question worth pursuing, but there’s little real point to dragging T into it.

      What a contrast with Obama. His haters in the past years gave him credit for plans to destroy America. We can’t even make that claim with T.

    • Joe_JP

      Not sure about “usurp” — implies Donald doesn’t actually want that. On some level, many others happy to have him delegate the job to others too really. It is an usurpation on a legal level, since Donald is given the legal duty of the office.

      • thebewilderness

        As long as he views them as extensions of himself they effectively are. This is quite common among narcissist parents.

    • eclare

      I wonder if they realize that they won’t actually inherit the thrown if Daddy dies in office.

      • eclare

        Throne, damnit.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          Somehow either homonym works with Trump.

        • trollhattan

          I prefer a thrown Donald to a bethroned one.

        • Bruce B.

          Yes. “Throne” is what they hope to get. “Thrown” is what we hope they get.

      • Ramon A. Clef

        Too bad we can’t issue a bill of attainder if he were to be impeached.

        • farin

          Their blood is already corrupt.

    • D. C. Sessions

      “Ivred” sounds like a character in a Margaret Atwood novel.

    • Simple Mind

      Right you ar, WT. Clinton dynasty not too hot, either. Or spouses in cabinet positions. As an aside, last night an Arabic-speaking CNN reporter say the anti-Assad militia men now Trump “Abu Ivanka”.

      Anyway, there are a few examples of rich men burdened by their wealth (Wittgenstein comes to mind. How I would like to see Trump in a hut by himself above the Arctic Circle for a year or two).

      Yeah so Trump is contract-savvy but functionally illiterate and so was Bush II and I’d lump Ronald Reagan in that basket.

      Have a nice day.

      • joel hanes

        so was Bush II

        Objection.

        Find video of W as a young man, and you’ll see that he was already incurious, bullying, entitled — but he was once also articulate and perceptive in a way that The Donald has never been in his life.

        I have almost nothing good to say about W as President, but I think that if you measured the reading comprehension of W and The Donald today, you’d find that our current President* performs at about a fourth-grade level, while W is perfectly capable of dealing with college-freshman or -sophomore material, even with the accumulated damage of alcohol and cocaine.

        • Derelict

          The fact that Dubya managed to actually learn how to fly a high-performance fighter well enough to pass is checkrides tells us he can read and understand fairly complex (technical) material, even if he’s not particularly interested in it.

          Trump, however, is both incurious and impervious to knowledge that doesn’t reinforce his already-held notions. As near as I can tell, he’s never operated anything more complex than the texting function on his smart phone. And listening to him read statements, as he had to do twice in the last three days, I have to put his reading ability on about a 4th or 5th grade level.

          • And listening to him read statements, as he had to do twice in the last three days, I have to put his reading ability on about a 4th or 5th grade level.

            “Reading aloud” and “reading for understanding” are distinct abilities, as I am regularly reminded here in the Old Fogies’ Home, and (in at least some people) mild dementia manifests earlier (or perhaps simply more obviously) in the former than in the latter; not that I think Trump is likely ever to have been very good at either one (nor am I claiming he’s mildly demented, not that I’d be surprised if he were).

          • efgoldman

            The fact that Dubya managed to actually learn how to fly a high-performance fighter….

            Which brings to mind: Anybody seen or heard from Major Kong lately?

            • Dennis Orphen

              He chimes in with a sound bite once in a while.

              And if you want to go full Travis McGee, check here.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              He’s been fairly active over in the threads about the cruise missile attack.

          • efgoldman

            I have to put his reading ability on about a 4th or 5th grade level.

            I’m pretty sure W could pass a middle school civics test on how government is supposed to work. I’m absolutely sure that Orange Shitgibbon can’t.

        • tsam

          I’ll give W one credit, especially in now that we see what a xenophobe running a nation looks like. He did make a solid effort to keep the battle with terrorism from turning into a modern crusade. His actions erased all that, but he never proposed any shit like banning or registering all Muslims.

          • Dennis Orphen

            That was part of the Bush/Cheney schtick in my opinion, from the very beginning of the administration, pre 9/11 even: No racist/xenophobic bullshit, strictly business, a deliberate part of their formula.

            • tsam

              Probably. Judging by the climate today vs the climate then (0-7 years after 9/11), I’d say it had a measurable impact.

    • brad

      How about just the Entitlement Twins?
      Not short, granted, but still.

      And damn well said.

    • tsam

      Jarvanka Binks.

      You’re welcome

    • tsam

      Ivanred the Terrible

      Again, YW

      • Karen24

        Ivanred is the best so far.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Feyd-Rautha Trump and Glossu Rabban Trump? Your choice which one’s the boy and which one’s the girl.

    • cpinva

      Mr. Kushner looks a bit silly and massively out of his depth pretty much all the time, regardless of where he is or what he’s doing.

    • twbb

      “PS not related to the above, I think I may physically assault the next person who proclaims, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever and in the teeth of quite some considerable proof to the contrary, that Ivanka or Jared, or Ivred, is a liberal. Even faintly.”

      There is a fair amount of evidence that they both used to be what passes for “liberal” in ultrawealthy northeasterners. Whether they still are, eh, that might be more up for debate.

      Honestly, as bad as Jared Kushner is, anything he didn’t usurp would be usurped by the sociopath twins, Bannon and Miller, who are a thousand times worse than Kushner. Or, possibly worse, done by the profoundly incompetent Trump himself.

      • Warren Terra

        There is a fair amount of evidence that they both used to be what passes for “liberal” in ultrawealthy northeasterners.

        I think you’ve confused “liberal” with “apolitical and noncontroversial”.

        • twbb

          I don’t think that’s inconsistent with my “what passes for ‘liberal'” term.

          I’m sure they’ve always had vaguely leftist views on stuff that doesn’t really impact them specifically, e.g. LGBT rights, moderate social welfare spending (as long as it’s debt-financed, not rich people taxes-financed), human rights abroad (as long as supporting those human rights involves photo ops and fancy fundraising dinners).

          I don’t think they’d do anything that would risk their own standing, or oppose plutocrat-friendly laws.

          I do think they might oppose some of Bannon/Miller’s cruelty-for-cruelty’s-sake.

          • I’m sure they’ve always had vaguely leftist views on stuff that doesn’t really impact them specifically, e.g. LGBT rights, moderate social welfare spending (as long as it’s debt-financed, not rich people taxes-financed), human rights abroad (as long as supporting those human rights involves photo ops and fancy fundraising dinners).

            Is there any evidence of this? The classic liberal Repiblican was in favor of Civil Rights. What reason is there to think the Kushners are?

            Sending money to help poor people overseas is traditionally a missionary activity, and rightwing. What are their documented “liberal” concerns?

            • twbb

              “Sending money to help poor people overseas is traditionally a missionary activity, and rightwing.

              What.

          • Maybe you’re right that there are upper class circles where they’d pass for liberal. I don’t know.

            I have read nothing about the Kushners to suggest they think of themselves that way. The neocon “mugged by reality” turn trickled well down the intellectual and social scale.

      • This only appears to be the case because the Republican Party has shifted so far to the right. I don’t doubt some people would consider them RINOs. We don’t have to do the same.

        For one thing, a northeastern liberal would know that their convictions meant they ought to stay far away from people like Trump.

        • twbb

          Pretty hard considering he’s family.

          The fact that someone as unqualified as Kushner is calling the shots is more a symptom of what’s wrong than a cause. Again, in a Kushner/Ivanka-less vacuum, the only people I can see filling that vacuum are far, far worse.

          • Hogan

            Pretty hard considering he’s family.

            Some of Reagan’s kids managed it.

    • LFC

      Donald Trump is a fat unhealthy old man

      We don’t really know the state of his health b.c he never released his medical records.

      He is rumored to be near illiterate

      Lack of curiosity and lack of knowledge are not the same as illiteracy. He probably doesn’t read a whole lot but he’s functionally literate — otherwise he wouldn’t be able to tweet and to read his formal speeches. He also managed to get through the Wharton School as an undergrad there.

      • Warren Terra

        I admit that I was largely riffing on this claim, but aside from piling on he probably can read okay – though I might still doubt his ability to comfortably read material not prepared for him, as his apparent life experience and his speaking style causes me to doubt somewhat the depth of his experience. Remember when Gary Johnson was asked about Aleppo and responding by asking what a leppo was? I’d bet a lot of words would stump Trump, though he might handle it better.

        Still, he’s probably literate – though there is so far as I know not the slightest evidence he’s read a single book since leaving school, not even the ones he’s credited with authoring.

        • tsam

          Yeah-I’m guessing it’s a lack of focus and unwillingness to exert the energy on concentration and processing the material. Or: he’s fucking lazy when it’s not a topic he really wants to focus on, like Miss Teen USA contestants and the like.

        • efgoldman

          I’d bet a lot of words would stump Trump, though he might handle it better.

          I stil think he can’t find Syria, Iraq or Chicago on a map.
          Neither he nor any of his family knew or cared, and may not yet know or care, how the government is supposed to work. Nor do they have any expertise, nor have any respect or need for those who do.

          • tsam

            I WUZ ELECTED TO LEAD, NOT TO READ

        • bender

          I think Trump has some reading impediment such as dyslexia which makes reading an effort for him. That would account for his behavior when he is giving a speech from a Teleprompter. His delivery is halting, and he won’t stick with the words in front of him longer than a few minutes at a time.

    • TopsyJane

      When we see Jared in Iraq, or Ivanka visiting a school, or see one or the other of them sitting in on the President’s meetings with foreign leaders (I believe every such meeting has featured one of them, and am uncertain if any has featured both), they’re not intruding or meddling – they’re literally usurping.

      I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but one reason they try never to leave his side is for the same reason his other top advisers try never to leave his side – he listens to the last person he spoke to and he likes to run you down to others when you’re out of the room. If Jared and Ivanka were actually Uday and Qusay, there wouldn’t be so much White House infighting. They may attain that status but they’re not there just yet.

      Bannon’s problem is the same that any non-family executive or political courtier has in a family setup – ultimately, blood ties tend beat everything (see the Clinton Foundation).

    • ColBatGuano

      that Ivanka or Jared, or Ivred, is a liberal.

      Or intelligent. This just seems to be assumed, but other than being absorbed into their respective family businesses, what proof is there of any accomplishment?

  • Dennis Orphen

    Just for the heck of it, I’m going to open the link the the Politico piece in a new tab and do a page search for ‘nepotism’.

    {rolls trackball around, right clicks, rolls again, does a find in page search}

    No examples of the word. I really did do that in good faith, and am not surprised by the results. Maybe I should go to Reno or Vegas since I can see the future.

    • IS

      I was actually surprised that nothing related to Robert Kennedy seemed to show up in a search.

      • Dennis Orphen

        Robert Kennedy was an example of nepotism, but one with genuine qualifications and experience, and probably confirmed by the senate, unless I’m taking the crazy pills.

        • efgoldman

          probably confirmed by the senate

          Absolutely, and then elected to the senate on his own, from New York.

        • Sly

          RFK’s nomination was pretty controversial at the time – few thought he would survive a roll call vote – but Lyndon Johnson basically pulled a rabbit out of his ass and got the Senate Democratic Conference to agree to a voice vote instead.

          And he wasn’t that experienced in 1961, having only served as an aide to Adlai Stevenson for a few years before that and an on-again-off-again staff attorney for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (the committee that elevated and then laid-low Joe McCarthy). His biggest claim to fame, besides being a Kennedy, was that he got into a very public spat with Jimmy Hoffa and wrote a bestseller about organized crime in the Teamsters.

          Few expected him to be a capable Attorney General, but he had a real knack for hiring and delegating authority to the right people (i.e. Katzenbach). Plus Roy Cohn hated his guts, which is a mark in anyone’s favor.

          • TopsyJane

            “I can’t see that it’s wrong to give him a little legal experience before he goes out to practice law.”

            That characteristic joke from the late president aside, RFK was one of his brother’s better appointments and he did do well at his confirmation hearing. His influence over his brother’s administration went a good deal further than his official duties as AG. In retrospect, this was mostly for good, and gave us the man who spoke in Indianapolis that fatal night in 1968, but there are good reasons why such appointments are bad in principle.

            On the other hand, there’s George Washington to John Adams:

            “The sentiments do honor to the head & heart of the writer; and if my wishes would be of any avail, they shd go to you in a strong hope, that you will not withhold merited promotion from Mr Jno. Adams because he is your son.”

            It’s notable that Washington felt he had to say this; plainly, he plainly thought Adams needed to be prodded.

            • TopsyJane

              That’s an extra plainly, please let us edit again someday…..

        • IS

          Agreed and all. But: what better example for the writer to lazily excrete either or both of “see, it’ll be okay!” or “BOTH SIDEZ!”?

      • StellaB

        Although they were in different parties and more closely related by marriage than by blood, FDR ran on his wife’s uncle’s name. His late uncle-in-law was still very popular.

  • AMK

    An ivy league business school hack fluffing a rich family and evincing no understanding of business or government or public service? Now I’ve seen it all!

    • econoclast

      He’s a management professor. Their idea of research is to write essays on “How does the CEO make you feel?”

      • tsam

        Isn’t that where people with lives, families, dreams become Human Capital? A cancelling variable in the equation to executive compensation?

      • “How does the CEO make you feel?”

        At FOX News, CEO feel you!

        • Bruce B.

          We heard about that in the campaign. More than many of us would have liked, really.

          Oh, emotional feeling. Right, that too.

          • cpinva

            “More than many of us would have liked, really.”

            way much more!

    • EvanHarper

      +1000

  • waspuppet

    But, not to worry, because Sonnenfeld assures us, based—as best I can tell—on no evidence other than his conversations with Donald Trump, that Kushner is the bee’s knees.

    So Trump’s son-in-law is qualified to be working in the White House, and you can take the word of one of Trump’s friends on that. I feel better already.

    I wonder how many other White Houses would consider Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump qualified to be senior advisors.

    • LosGatosCA

      Well, there’s a White House in Fort Wayne they are more than qualified to run. One in Peoria. Another in Oakdale, CA. Also, too several white houses in my neighborhood.

      • cpinva

        “Well, there’s a White House in Fort Wayne they are more than qualified to run. One in Peoria. Another in Oakdale, CA. Also, too several white houses in my neighborhood.”

        I wouldn’t be quite so quick to deem them qualified for any of these multiple residences. judging by the standard of their own house, Ivanka inherited Daddy’s sense of “taste”/”style”.

      • ColBatGuano

        How about a White Castle? Even classier.

      • Warren Terra

        There’s a huge number of pubs, bars, and lounges called The White Horse all across the country, and a half-dozen towns in the US called Whitehorse. I don’t think any of them would readily give Jared or Ivanka significant authority without more experience – unlike the White House.

        • efgoldman

          I don’t think any of them would readily give Jared or Ivanka significant authority without more experience – unlike the White House.

          One of my senators is named Whitehouse. He is a good guy, and definitely not a camera hog.

    • tsam

      Reagan wouldn’t. His people weren’t stupid, just evil.

  • CrunchyFrog

    I’ve long noticed a human tendency to rationalize, justify, and if necessary lie for extremely incompetent senior management. I mean, whenever I see this happen the person is lying to him or herself justifying why he/she isn’t doing anything about just how incompetent the management.

    “I know A*** seems out of his depth in eStaff presentations, but if you listen closely you’ll find kernels of good info.”

    “B**** seems to catching onto the business now that he’s been here for 6 months. Lately his eStaff comments have seemed on topic.”

    “S***** really deserved that bonus as he was responsible for that big deal. I know we almost went bankrupt because he gave away the farm and we needed to burn out the field people to prevent having to restate 4 quarters of earnings by losing that customer, but it’s still our biggest deal to date.”

    “D***** might be onto something with the new product roadmap. It doesn’t make sense to me, or anyone else on staff, but he did bring in a lot of smart consultants.”

    “The good thing about R***** wasting all the expense money on those drinking binges with partners is that he’s not bothering us. In a way he’s the best exec we’ve had.”

  • Joe_JP

    Ivanka creeps me out. Jared (who would fit well in a Jared jewelry commercial) having all this power is creepy too.

    normalize the destruction of norms

    This is my basic fear. Trump simply shouldn’t be seen as a person credible for the position he now holds. To hold otherwise is a basic norm violation. But, we are supposed to now basically accept it. Blithely treat him as a legitimate office holder, if only because well he won, we are stuck with him. Normalizes concept.

    Just had something like that happen to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch is going to be swore in on Monday. Got to accept it, even if you don’t like it. Normalizes process on a basic level. Next time, it becomes that much easier to do something like what happened to Garland. Tad unfortunate, but what can you do?

    I think we need to continue to realize something crazy etc. is happening. Crazy doesn’t stop being crazy just because it sticks around. Slavery wasn’t suddenly right because it was legal by the laws on the books. I refuse to normalize Trump by calling him the label given to Obama and previous members of that office.

    I’m not going to call Gorsuch “Justice” either.

    • Mark Field

      This.

    • cpinva

      “Ivanka creeps me out. Jared (who would fit well in a Jared jewelry commercial) having all this power is creepy too.”

      the whole goddamned family creeps me out, including the kid (and to be fair, that’s not his fault, he’s as much a victim in this as the rest of us are). they’re like the Addams family, but not anywhere as funny or smart, just, well…………………creepy.

    • Thom

      Maybe Injustice Gorsuch?

  • JMP

    For a long time, the right wing in America has pursued policies that would turn the country into what is effectively a feudal-style aristocracy, but they’ve at least tried to hide it; now though they’re being open about it, and this piece basically is saying it should be fine for Donald to act like an absolute monarch and treat his family as a royal family who jointly rules the realm while ignoring our entire system of laws.

    • Linnaeus

      Neofedualism’s a hell of a drug.

  • DamnYankees

    Let me make a somewhat counter argument here – not that this is good, but that’s it’s not as insane as people make it sound. I think the example that people have used is, and that I frankly don’t think is crazy, is Hillary Clinton.

    Hillary was given a ton of power in the first few years of the Clinton administration. And she wasn’t elected to anything. She was the President’s wife, which is not an elected position. And my understanding is that a lot of the justification of this (I was too young to remember this happening, but let me know if I’m wrong) was that this was sold as a package deal. Bill Clinton ran basically saying that his wife is awesome and qualified and would be involved and that by electing him you’re getting 2 for 1.

    Didn’t Trump kind of do the same? There was tons of talk pre-election about how awesome his kids were, and everyone knew they’d be involved (as unethical as it is, it wasn’t a secret). Same for Kushner. People knew that they were his closest advisors. Can’t the same argument be made?

    Now, to be 100%, absolutely stone cold fucking clear – Hillary Clinton is a million times better and more competent and smart and moral than Ivanka and Jared. Not even close. I don’t say this – at all – to begrudge Hillary or say she shouldn’t have done that work. My only point here is that the practice of putting your family in charge of stuff does not begin with Trump.

    The problem with Trump is not that he’s putting his daughter and son in law in positions of power. The problem is that they are staggeringly incompetent, and that their installation to positions of power appears to be only justified on the basis of their nepotism. Which is really bad. But I think the attack here isn’t that “he’s his son-in-law so should do anything”. The attack is that he’s incompetent.

    • Joe_JP

      Hillary was given a ton of power in the first few years of the Clinton administration.

      She was given the health care thing. What else? Jared has how many things? Guess we can also toss in Eleanor Roosevelt.

      • Joe_JP

        ETA: The incompetence is key but part of the problem here other than the broad amount of stuff put on their plate is that they have much more power than let’s say Hillary Clinton even over health care proposal because there Bill Clinton surely practiced significant oversight and input. Here, the general assumption is Donald has no basic idea of what he’s doing, even if he took the effort to try.

        • efgoldman

          Donald has no basic idea of what he’s doing, even if he took the effort to try.

          Plus they started from the point, in 1992, that Bill was a very smart dude and (except for the keeping it in his pants thing) eminently qualified to be president.

      • DamnYankees

        I don’t have personal memories of this, but according to Wikipedia she was deeply involved in vetting people and just generally being a senior White House advisor. Is that not accurate? (Serious question.)

        • wjts

          That’s how I remember it, though I think her role was less prominent after the 1994 midterms.

        • LosGatosCA

          Hillary was an accomplished lawyer graduated from one of two law schoolsoooo that will qualify you to serve on thpoe US Supreme Court. She also served on the board at Walmart. Her husband was a governor for over a decade so politics and the law was the family business.

          Grifting is the Trumpsters family business.

          • twbb

            I think you’re stretching things. Hillary was given too much authority in the Clinton White House, full stop. I like Hillary and I voted for Hillary but she really was given too much power too early on.

            Also that you need to be from one of those two law schools on SCOTUS is a bug, not a feature.

            • TopsyJane

              Hillary was given too much authority in the Clinton White House, full stop.

              It was a two-for-one deal. The Clintons were most forthright about that. A vote for Bill was a vote for her.

              • twbb

                By that standard, Trump was just as forthright about Kushner and Ivanka, too.

                • Warren Terra

                  This is completely wrong; relatively little attention was paid to Kushner and Ivanka explicitly pledged not to join the administration.

        • Warren Terra

          I think there’s a pretty big difference between being a senior White House macher, someone who gets updates on various issues and digests them for the President, and someone who’s bouncing all over the government cannonballing into various working groups, suddenly showing up as if they own the place.

        • Downpuppy

          First Lady is an historically important position. Electing any* president, the country knows who they’re getting. Dolly Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford – There are reasonably well defined norms and expectations that she’ll attend to protocol, take up one or two issues, be a key advisor & symbol.

          The break in that tradition isn’t Hillary, it’s Melanja of NYC.

          *Yes, Buchanan was single. Look how that turned out.

          • TopsyJane

            There is no “tradition” for the role of the president’s wife. She doesn’t have to do a damn thing if she doesn’t want to. The notion that she has to sponsor an uncontroversial cause or two is a relatively recent one and there has never been any expectation that she will be a key adviser, or even hostess – Bess Truman mostly stayed home. (The only points of comparison Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham Clinton have are each other.)

            I assume things like the annual Easter egg hunt can be staffed out. If Melania wants to stay in NY with her son she’s within her rights. (Ideally they should move her out of midtown so as not to cause a huge and costly inconvenience, but that’s not how the Trumps roll.)

        • Joe_JP

          Thanks.

          Not sure how much power she had over vetting, let’s say, as compared to someone (along with others) having a role there. And, that is something I think trusted advisors, often not elected, would have a role doing. Sometimes, spouses historically played that role.

          I think at least for Jared (along with the other things) there is a difference in scale here.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      I think the difference is with Clinton- or JFK, for that matter- no matter what responsibilities the relative was given, in the end the buck was going to actually stop with the President- the elected official. We just don’t have a whole lot of reason to believe that’s ever going to be the case with trump

      • DamnYankees

        Of course, 100% agree.

    • D. C. Sessions

      There was tons of talk pre-election about how awesome his kids were

      The only talk prior to the election about how wonderful his children were focused on Ivanka, and that only from a lecherous perspective. No mention of whether she could close up Velcro strap shoes without help.

      • DamnYankees

        I sadly don’t think this is true. Eric and Don Jr. gave keynote speeches at the RNC. Conservatives loved all his kids.

        Except for Tiffany. Poor Tiffany.

        • D. C. Sessions

          They would have cheered if he had the keynote delivered by Lennie Small.

        • Origami Isopod

          Tiffany is probably the luckiest of Drumpf’s kids, because he wants nothing to do with her.

    • sibusisodan

      I think differences between HRC and Trump family members goes well beyond just competence.

      Hopefully someone who remembers the early 90s better than I can clue me in: did HRC foreswear an active role in the administration, as Ivanka did? Did she fail to accurately complete her security clearance forms as Jared has?

      The stuff delegated to HRC on healthcare required liaison with Congress, no? It was therefore relatively public. Her performance could be judged, and was!

      I couldn’t tell you what effect the Trump family are having, or even what they are doing.

      Family Trump are indifferent to, contemptuous of and possibly blithely ignorant of norms in ethics and government. They are malign and corrosive.

      • efgoldman

        I couldn’t tell you what effect the Trump family are having, or even what they are doing.

        Neither can they.

    • econoclast

      If he had been given one issue, and showed any ability to staff up to address that issue, it would be very different. He’s been given every issue, and his sole activity on every issue is one photo op.

      • Warren Terra

        This speaks to my thesis above that Ivred are functioning as substitute-Presidents. A President being very visibly involved in a whole bunch of issues, to the sole extent of one photo op with the working group for each, would be completely unremarkable; conversely, a West Wing political aide bigfooting themselves into even one such issue without expertise, let alone a whole variety of them, looks ridiculous.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      The difference is that Hillary had been performing this role with Bill ever since they decided that he would be the one to enter politics. It was essentially a partnership, which isn’t that unusual in marriages where the spouse is extremely involved in the the job that the other spouse is formally doing.

      I’d don’t have the sense that Jared, in particular, worked closely with Trump on a regular basis.

      • Warren Terra

        This is kind of the key thing: Hillry Clinton was as educated as Bill Clinton (indeed, very similarly educated) and they’d been working together on politics and policy for decades, since it was just the two of them. Kushner or Ivanka, in contrast, have no relevant education and no relevant expertise, and also no relevant experience.

    • FlipYrWhig

      The difference is that, from my fairly vivid memories of the first Clinton administration, when they were looking for a qualified woman to install as Attorney General, a not-married-to-Bill Hillary Rodham would have been considered a viable candidate. Jared Kushner is a fucking nobody who’s done nothing. Not even in the same universe.

      • Davis X. Machina

        …when they were looking for a qualified woman to install as Attorney General, a not-married-to-Bill Hillary Rodham would have been considered a viable candidate.

        Double-plus ungood! Nepotism! Dynasty!

    • PunditusMaximus

      I was a kid during the early Clinton Presidency, but looking back . . . Jeebus Crust the Big Dog was such a damn moderate Republican.

      Right down to the creepy power f*king.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        with any luck someday the kids will be telling you how terrible your current ideals are

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          (con’t)

          and you’ll whine, “they were the best we could *do*”

          and you’ll be right, and they’ll be talking out of their asses

  • DamnYankees

    Also, to steal the great tweet from David Frum, the Trump White House is now a battlefield between crass plutocrats and dangerous lunatics, and we all must hope the plutocrats win. Sad as it is. We don’t need to lionize Jared, but he is sadly better than the alternative here. The best case scenario of the next 4 years is that Trump and his family just steal and bunch of money and don’t do much of anything else. Those are the options in front of us.

    • marduk

      I’m not sure we should be rooting for anyone to win. The more time they spend knifing each other in the back is less time knifing America in the face.

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        Yeah, there’s still ~1,300 days of this garbage to endure. Every day/ news cycle these clowns spend trying to RF each other is one they’re not trying their hardest to RF the entire country.

      • altofront

        Exactly. The Bannon vs. Kushner war that the press are so breathlessly reporting on (and participating in, e.g. this article) is profoundly assymmetrical, since Bannon can’t actually win. So, the longer Bannon sticks around trying to thwart and damage Kushner, the better.

        My expectation, though, is that the alliance of the plutocrats and the generals will neutralize the crazies pretty soon–excepting immigration policy, which the lunatics will be granted as a kind of consolation prize.

        • Lizzy L

          That depends on whether you think Jeff Sessions is one of the crazies, because I fully expect him to attempt to roll back the clock on all the progressive legal choices of the last 8 (and longer) years: same-sex marriage, trans civil rights, medical marijuana, assisted dying, and EVERY damn thing to do with the militarization of the police and civil rights laws, especially as they affect black and brown people. How well he will succeed may have something to do with the newest SCOTUS member.

          It’s a hard rain gonna fall.

  • brad

    Part of me wants to get into it with this guy on twitter, he seems untouched on it by criticism, yet, but it’s sunny out…

  • N__B

    I see the rise of Ivaned as being in the same vein as the appointment of Tillerson and Mnuchin and the rest of the business-not-politics crowd: it’s Washington as Galt’s Gulch. They are rich, therefore they are makers and know all, so they can perform any job that lesser mortals can.

    It will end well.

    • Colin Day

      To be fair, Galt’s Gulch had people capable of making lunch and farming. But how is working in the White House going on strike?

  • sibusisodan

    Slightly tangential: I’ve seen stories in the last week indicating that quite a few members of the administration are getting wobbly. Memory fuzzy, but I think Tillerson, Priebus, Bannon have all been mooted as considering leaving.

    I know confidential sources and gossip may be worthless, but…even the existence of such rumours only 13* weeks in is unusual, no?

    *in base 11**
    **only in Trump’s mind

    • Sentient AI from the Future

      Octal (base 8) actually. 13 in base 11 would be 14 decimal.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        You nym is the perfect one to make this comment.

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          Thanks.

          And since I see a lot of loose talk about neofeudalism in this thread (including by me) I would like to preemptively squash any speculation that I am Roko’s basilisk. That guy’s a total dick.

      • Warren Terra

        Octal is of course what you get if you’re reduced to counting on your hands, and forget your thumbs, or are wearing Mickey Mouse gloves, which seems appropriate even if too literal.

        • Sentient AI from the Future

          Or are a Simpsons character

          • N__B

            People who actually were Simpsons characters would, I think, spend most of their time cleaning up the drool from their huge overbites.

            • tsam

              Made more difficult by the missing fingers on EVERY SPRINGFIELD RESIDENT. WHY?

    • Colin Day

      I know confidential sources and gossip may be worthless, but…even the existence of such rumours only 13* weeks in is unusual, no?

      It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  • IS

    Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies…

    Wait, that’s an actual title?

    • econoclast

      They probably have some bogus “Leadership Studies” research center that he’s the head of.

      • efgoldman

        They probably have some bogus “Leadership Studies” research center

        Funded, no doubt, by the Kochs or Mercers or Rickettses or some equally repulsive excuses for actual human beings.

        • Warren Terra

          It strikes me that “leadership studies” is probably a particularly easy subject to get sponsorship for: if you’re rich business person John Doe, wouldn’t you rather sponsor the John Doe chair in Leadership Studies than the John Doe chair in Leveraged Finance or the John Doe chair in Especially Clever Bookkeeping?

        • IS

          The Medicis?

      • Thom

        The word “bogus” adds nothing here.

    • JMP

      He also won the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence

      • Dennis Orphen

        Colloquially known as “The Tented Fingers Trophy”.

  • IS

    It’s particularly rich to read all of this forty-eight hours after we learned that Kushner met with Russian officials—and failed to disclose those meetings on the application for his security clearance.

    But has he used a private email server? Come on, focus on the things that really matter.

  • Tehanu

    Sonnenfeld proves, once again, what I’ve been saying for years: at least 75% of what’s wrong with this country comes out of the business schools. In fact, I’m beginning to think that percentage ought to be higher — 90 or 95%. “Leadership Studies,” my ass. If they stuck to teaching bookkeeping they might be worth something.

    • tsam

      Yeah-that’s where “what’s good for GM is good for the nation”. Predatory capitalism dressed up as patriotism.

      • tsam

        (Comes from)

    • howard

      i agree, but i was of the impression that sonnenfeld was one of the smarter ones in business school world, an impression that i now see was completely unfounded.

      • redrob

        sonnenfeld was one of the smarter ones in business school world

        Isn’t that, to steal a line, rather like being the tallest building in Topeka?

    • econoclast

      And you base this on one sycophant that found his way into a professorial role? How many sycophants are there in the media? In middle management?

      You think the rich wouldn’t have come up with the idea “We should have all of the money” if there wasn’t a business school professor around to suggest it?

      This is something that infuriates me about economics coverage in general. The media relentlessly promotes anybody who’s willing to slobber over the knob of plutocrats, and ignores everyone else. The public then blames economists.

      • EvanHarper

        B-school is not economics, my dude

      • Sentient AI from the Future

        I’m feeling philosophical today, so my question is:

        If there were no sinecures for economist apologists for plutocracy and neofeudalism, what field is sufficiently hand-wavy to be drafted into providing the requisite PR/rationalizations?

        • Warren Terra

          In one of the later series of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, Douglas Adams had a sort of prostitute/escort whose profession was telling rich people they deserved to be rich, it was okay for them to be rich. I have a vague recollection of some other prominent writer of satirical F/SF creating academics of a similar bent, but can’t recall a specific example. Seems like something Terry Pratchett would do, but I’ve not read so much of him.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Fluffers.

        • brad

          Well, any attractive females in the cohort could shift to being pro-dommes and probably have little change in their client base.

    • daves09

      Need to check to see if the Waltons financed his position and then dictated his appointment.
      Gosh, conservative rich people give gobs of cash and the schools get more conservative. Coincidence or not?

  • bender

    The Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton administrations had cabinet secretaries who were qualified for their jobs, and the sub, sub-sub and sub-sub-sub cabinet positions were filled with a normal assortment of experienced administrators, academics and political appointees.

    In those administrations, most of the jobs that needed doing were done by people with defined responsibilities. The influence of kitchen cabinets was not dispositive.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

      In Trump’s case, actual kitchen cabinets may have some influence.

      • EvanHarper

        The kitchen cabinets are bugged!

        • Sev

          They are not, however, unhinged.

        • Warren Terra

          It’s the under-cabinet mounted microwaves that are to blame.

          • efgoldman

            It’s the under-cabinet mounted microwaves that are to blame.

            And the granite countertops!!

      • actual kitchen cabinets

        He prefers pass-through storage space.

      • Dennis Orphen

        Too bad the cabinetmaker probably got stiffed.

  • tsam

    Speaking of working several atmospheres above your qualifications: Gorky sez Trump’s 2013 tweets about Syria don’t count because he wasn’t president then. What do you say to your server in Australia when you’re done eating?

  • The great merchant banking families

    This made my day.

    a trustworthy, objective, smart, fresh voice working in the national interest,

    This was just funny.

    I was going to say the online alt-right doesn’t have a monopoly on nonsense, only an “alternate” sense of what’s barely plausible, and then I saw this

    appears to work effectively and quietly with real facts and analysis rather than with public pronouncements, tweets, “alternative facts,” or threats.

    Which is a nice bit of backside-covering.

    Incidentally, I don’t care much for the use of the word “observant” to mean something like “Orthodox.” I suppose it’s difficult to see what word could replace it. But it implies that there’s only one valid form of Jewish religious practice, and that any given practice is better in proportion to how stringent it happens to be.

    • Would you describe Steve Bannon as an observant Wiccan or a lapsed Satanist?

      • tsam

        Prolapsed Anusist.

      • bender

        Bannon is no sort of Wiccan.

        Covenant of the Goddess

        New Wiccan Church

        • bender

          My foray into link creating was not successful, but http://www.cog.org and http://www.newwiccanchurch.org will take you to websites of two Wiccan organizations that have nationwide membership and have existed for decades.

          The Covenant of the Goddess and theNew Wiccan Church have codes of ethics and criteria of observance which would disqualify Bannon from membership out of hand.

          Using a minority religion, even one which you hold in contempt, as a vehicle for snark and ridicule against a despicable person who has no connection to it, is bigoted behavior.

          • Sentient AI from the Future

            Strongly agree. Even among Satanists there is substantial variation. The Satanic Temple, for instance, does yeopeople’s work fighting against the encroachment of “religious freedom” bullshit excuses for discrimination.

            LaVeyan satanists can generally go shit in their collective hats though.

      • Wicca seems a little too woman-centered for him, so I guess it’s Satan.

      • Hogan

        Maybe the kind of Wiccan who says “An ye harm someone, do what you will.”

  • stonetools

    Ivanka is a beautiful blonde woman and Jared knows something about finance…
    Wait a second, you need more than that be to be co -President of the United States? We may be in trouble here…
    Every damned day I wake up angry the United States did this to itself last year, despite ample evidence that Trump shouldn’t be President.
    I’ve got “Ooh Child” playing in the background, but it doesn’t soothe me the way it usually does.Tip- check out the #KushnerAtWar Twitter hashtag for a few laughs.

    • Warren Terra

      Jared knows something about finance

      I hope we don’t learn too expensively just how significant the difference between “financing” and “finance” is.

  • William Berry

    Agree completely with the OP. I didn’t bother clicking through; the quote was a perfect distillation of the general attitude of aristocratic entitlement of our social-economic-political elites, and of the disgusting suck-assery of the wanna-bes who make up the “American Clerisy”.

    Minor pedantic nit-pick: In the phrase ” . . . world’s oldest extant democratic republic, nonetheless”, shouldn’t “nonetheless” be “no less”? (Looks as if it might be an auto-correct cupertino.

    • dnexon

      Yeah. Not sure how that happened. I mean, anyone who’s seen my Twitter feed knows that I don’t self-edit well when writing fast. But still. Thanks. Will fix.

  • William Berry

    Damning the lack of the Edit function:

    Not the whole of our political elites, of course, since there is at least something of a left hanging on.

  • efgoldman

    There are plenty of smart, capable, and even qualified people who could fill Kushner’s roles without eroding the foundations of our system of government.

    Yes, but if they are really and or all of those things, they wouldn’t take the job (a) working for Donnie Deadbeat and (b) with all those portfolios.

  • LosGatosCA

    Top to bottom every strata of the American electorate has seen the median IQ shift lower due to the influence of the Republican Party or because the median IQ of the American electorate has shifted lower the Republican Party has become more unhinged, more evil, more stupid generally. I’d like to think the Republicans and Fox-lead alt-media drove it that way but my head tells me it’s really the more unhinged, more evil, and more stupid electorate that drove the Party.

    It’s sad to think that 45% of the country has values inimical to a healthy society. But when they started making excuses for an Alzheimer’s victim trading arms for hostages, getting about 300 Marines and embassy personnel blown up in Beirut, and rationalizing the quadrupling the national debt for 1% tax cuts as some magical formula (Laugher Curve) to increase tax revenue I guess it just naturally extends in a straight line thru all the stupidity they’ve provided since: Quayle, impeachment, 2000 election stolen/Bush II, 9/11, Iraq/Feith/Wolfowitz/Cheney, Palin, Scalia/Garland, now Trump.

    At some point there’s a pattern that puts the blame on the evil stupidity of your fellow citizens who have kept electing these evil, stupid people to represent them. Because it’s much worse collectively at the state level.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    on no evidence other than his conversations with Donald Trump

    This is the tell. Sonnenfeld’s academic specialty is not just “leadership” but in particular the study of CEO behavior. The only way to do that effectively is via direct contact and observation. CEO egos tend to be not small, so the CEO scholar must become extremely adept at tongue baths. Being a bootlicker is not an occupational hazard, it’s a job requirement.

    • ColBatGuano

      To be fair, Sonnefeld does seem like the kind of guy who would gently cup the balls as he gives the CEO a tongue bath.

    • Hogan

      Value congruence and charismatic leadership in CEO top manager relationships: An empirical investigation

      Published in the Journal of Business Ethics. I can’t even.

    • twbb

      I found an interesting clip of Sonnenfeld discussing some of his analysis here:

      https://youtu.be/KcwyMXo0CzA?t=48

  • JR in WV

    People seem to be making a great deal of fluffy noise about a group of people who are just plain old ignorant thieves, who happen to have stolen an election. Believe me, this is not a new feature in America.

    Here locally, we have had governors sent to jail, one Democrat [Wally Barron] and one Republican [Arch A Moore (father and teacher of Shelly Moore Capito, Jr Senator for W Va)] in my memory.

    Of course, ruining a single small state in a Union of 50 is less of a big deal than ruining all 50 states. And Trump may be more ignorant and stupid than the most venal Governor of any state.

    OT but has anyone noticed that Alabama seems prepared to impeach their Governor for covering up his affair with an attractive political aide?

    Note: Cover Up, not the actual sex, using police, spending public funds, etc. Seems prophetic, kinda.

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