What was repudiated in Massachusetts in early 2010 was a specific policy course: The Obama White House’s pursuit of a sweeping and complex health care bill in the teeth of an enormous recession, which unsettled voters who wanted hope and change only so long as the latter didn’t affect their health-insurance premiums.
.. The fact that Coakley was a terrible candidate made it easier for Scott Brown to torpedo her, but the backlash against Obamacare, the feeling that a liberal president had turned too soon from seeking growth to seeking redistribution, was an essential element in her defeat.
.. There is an unpopular Republican tax bill now to echo the unpopular Democratic health care bill eight years ago, but policy is a much smaller part of what was repudiated last night in Alabama. It was not so much a rejection of the Trump agenda as it was a rejection of the whole Trumpian mode of politics,
.. a fervent commitment to “triggering the libs” shorn of any populist substance, and a cocksure assumption that any Republicans who aren’t in it for the liberal-triggering care enough about
- judges and
- abortion or their
- tax cuts or
- the soaring stock market
to swallow hard and go along.
.. it’s also a pretty clear foretaste of what you get when you distill white identity politics to a nasty essence and then try to build a coalition around it.
.. You get massive Democratic turnout, black turnout in particular, slumping Republican turnout, and a whole lot of write-in votes from people who should be your supporters. You get Democrats winning elections in the most unlikely places. And you get, quite probably, a Democratic majority in the House and perhaps even the Senate.
.. team Obama decided to stay the course for what were debatable but also rational reasons — the theory that a sweeping health care bill would be simply worth the political pain and midterm election losses required to get it passed.
.. No such rationality exists in the Trump White House, no such cost-benefit analyses are conducted, no such vision for what the president wants as his legacy exists. You can’t change course without a map; you can’t change your plan when you don’t have one to begin with. Maybe we’ll get a new and “presidential” Trump for a few days or even a couple of weeks after this debacle; maybe there will be talk of reaching out beyond the Hannity demographic and trying to act like the president of all Americans for a while. But none of it should be taken seriously. Trump can control himself for a short time here and there, but tomorrow is always another day
.. Trump who would rather have the G.O.P. fall in ruins around him than give up on his feuds and insults and absurd behavior
Richard Spencer and Nathan Damigo, two leading figures of the white nationalist alt-right movement who had participated in Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally , spoke to reporters at Spencer’s office and apartment in Alexandria.
.. Spencer blamed the authorities for what happened in Charlottesville, saying the city’s mayor and governor of Virginia have “blood on their hands” for not policing the situation properly. The alt-right, he said, is “nonviolent;” he waxed nostalgic while speaking about the hundreds of white nationalists marching through Charlottesville with torches on Friday night, calling the event “really beautiful.”
Some fighting between them and counter-protesters reportedly took place during the Friday event;
Saturday’s rally attracted militia members with guns, and descended into all-out street violence.
.. But one person who didn’t come in for unequivocal criticism was Charlottesville suspect James Alex Fields, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who had come to protest the Unite the Right event. Fields was photographed earlier in the day at the rally with Vanguard America, a self-identified white supremacist and fascist group that attended the rally.
.. General Jeff Sessions has called the incident an act of terrorism.
.. “I am not going to condemn this young man at this point,” Spencer said. When he first saw the video, he said, he saw it as a “malicious act of violence”; but he’s now less sure that it was a purposeful act and won’t come down on one side or another until an investigation is complete.
.. Spencer dismissed Trump’s statement as “kumbaya nonsense” and said he didn’t view it as a repudiation of his movement, which he defended as “non-violent.”
“He sounded like a Sunday school teacher,” he said. “I just don’t take it seriously.”
.. “I don’t know exactly what he meant by that statement,” Damigo said. “People in his position, they’re not stupid, they make these very ambiguous statements with words that are very loaded and hard to interpret.”
.. we don’t know the facts yet.
.. “We were connected with Donald Trump on a kind of psychic level,” he said of the alt-right. Trump is the “first true authentic nationalist in my lifetime.”
.. Asked who in the White House he views as a fellow traveler of the alt-right, Spencer named top policy advisor Stephen Miller and chief strategist Steve Bannon
“They at least are connected with identitarian ideas in a way that the rest of them are not,” Spencer said.
.. But he seemed less than cowed, promising to return to Charlottesville.
“There’s no way in hell I’m not going back to Charlottesville,” he said.
With little experience, and against all predictions to the contrary, Kushner had managed Trump’s way to the White House, and was now poised to be his most trusted adviser and enforcer in the West Wing.
.. He had come to offer a message to his old friends: Be unafraid.
.. He thought about immigration in terms of Silicon Valley’s needs, about education the way Robin Hood Foundation philanthropists did, about climate change in terms of carbon emissions, not mining jobs. Then, about a year ago, Kushner said, he had started traveling the country with Trump, going to rallies where thousands of ordinary Americans shouted in fury about government regulations and the Common Core curriculum.
.. David Zaslav, the chief executive of the Discovery cable networks, asked Kushner how it would be possible in the future to have a national discussion based on facts. Kushner replied that it was the media that was deluded about America, claiming his own computer models told him the morning of the election that Trump would capture more than 300 electoral votes.
.. Kushner believes Trump’s victory was a repudiation of the media and both political parties — the entire governing Establishment. He said he was “proud” Trump had won only 4 percent of the vote in Washington, D.C.
.. He predicted the administration would take a “rational” position on immigration and would join with Democrats to invest in infrastructure, which he said could mean not only roads and bridges but high-speed internet and driverless cars. He said Trump had asked Elon Musk why the aerospace industry couldn’t make planes that fly faster, like the Concorde used to, and Musk replied that most CEOs preferred incremental improvements to moon-shot risks.
.. Ten blocks to the north, in his golden tower, Trump was nominating a climate-change skeptic for Interior secretary and tweeting gleefully about Russian hacking, even as his son-in-law said America needed to take a long-term view of the “warfare of the future.”
.. Kushner flattered the Partnership audience by saying the president-elect was happy to be bringing so many billionaires to D.C., asking, “Who else to do you want to see cutting deals?”
.. Kushner’s impact can be seen in the centrist tilt of Trump’s economic team, which is heavy on Goldman Sachs guys. For secretary of State, he preferred Mitt Romney and, later, Rex Tillerson over bomb-throwers like John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani.
.. “For a guy who was a progressive,” Bannon says, “he really gets this grassroots populist movement in a huge way.”
.. “We have no formal chain of command around here,” Trump said
.. the depth of Kushner’s commitment to Trump’s reactionary agenda was surrounded by a bit of what Henry Kissinger — a Kushner admirer — would call constructive ambiguity.
.. he had always been quick to champion Trump to his many detractors and expressed admiration for his knack for self-promotion and his impish ability to play the press for suckers. But Kushner never gave the impression that he had anything more than a grudging son-in-law’s level of tolerance for Trump’s more radical positions.
.. Back when Trump was spinning birther conspiracy theories, which were lapped up by gullible Republicans, one person who talked to Kushner says he offered assurances that his father-in-law didn’t really believe that stuff.
.. His voice is just literally soft. His opinions are anything but deferential. “He’s very aggressive,” says Zelnick, who says that once Kushner makes up his mind, “it may look like he’s barreling down a path.”
.. Above all, he and Trump share a clannish outlook on life, business, and politics. Trump prizes loyalty, especially when it flows upward, and no defender has been more steadfast during his turbulent struggle than Kushner. Neither forgets when he’s been wronged. They both appear to enjoy the metallic taste of payback, although of the two, Trump may be the more forgiving.
.. In fact, “family first” is his paramount value, a personal principle instilled in him through bitter history.
.. Rae Kushner, the family’s matriarch, was born in Novogrudek, in what is now Belarus. When the Nazis arrived in 1941, they executed the town’s Jewish doctors, lawyers, and intellectuals on the square, as an orchestra played. Rae, a teenager, was one of 50 girls selected to scrub their blood from the cobblestones.
.. They ended up in a displaced-persons camp, where they spent three and a half years while the family waited for a visa to immigrate to the United States. “Nobody wanted to take us in,” Rae said in The Miracle of Life. At the time, the United States had immigration quotas based on ethnicity. “For the Jews, the doors were closed. We never understood that. Even President Roosevelt kept the doors closed.”
.. “You cater to the masses, you eat with the classes.”
.. He has also served as a bridge to the government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has known the Kushners for years.
.. Through Jared’s teenage years, his father became increasingly involved in politics, becoming a top Democratic Party donor. Politicians with national aspirations, including Hillary Clinton, would regularly pay visits to the Kushners.
.. Charlie wanted more than just zoning approvals. He aspired to be a kingmaker.
.. that was Charlie’s flaw: his craving for a public role.
.. Chris Christie, the ambitious U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, who appeared to relish the idea of pursuing Governor McGreevey’s patron.
.. Jared saw his father as a victim of injustice. “It’s an outrage that Charlie’s brother and sister cooperated with the government against him; that’s the lowest thing a Jew can do in my book,”
.. The youthful staff at the Observer made subsistence wages, but the writers didn’t seem bothered about money. They competed instead for the fickle approval of the paper’s charismatic editor, Peter Kaplan, who cultivated an air of intellectual eccentricity punctuated by sarcastic exclamation points.
.. If Kushner, then 25, was seeking to confirm a suspicion that the media was made up of socially insecure smartasses who glory in the human failings of the rich and powerful, he couldn’t have picked a better place to educate himself.
.. Kaplan told friends that Kushner’s favorite book was The Count of Monte Cristo, the story of a wronged man who escapes prison, becomes rich, and uses his wealth to stealthily visit vengeance upon his unsuspecting enemies.
.. Wildstein was hired by Christie and engineered the politically retributive traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge. After the scheme came to light, Kushner sent an email to Wildstein, who had resigned amid the investigation. “That’s another thing we have in common I guess with my Dad having done the same,” he wrote. “For what its worth, I thought the move you pulled was kind of badass.”
.. Ray Kelly, the former NYPD commissioner, who got to know Kushner as a donor to the New York City Police Foundation
.. he saw Kushner as a “law-and-order person” who was supportive of the Bloomberg administration’s technocratic approach to government. Kushner was also close to Joel Klein, the schools chancellor, who influenced his views on education reform
.. In 2006, Jared negotiated the purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion, a record sum for a Manhattan office building at the time. The transaction was financed by an onerous amount of debt. The following year, the Kushner Companies liquidated its apartment portfolio for $1.9 billion. The shift was akin to trading a fleet of taxicabs for a single Formula 1 race car. “It wasn’t my idea to buy a New York building,” says Hammer, who was chairman of the company during Charlie’s absence. “That was really the idea of a very aggressive, ambitious young man.”
.. Kushner’s loans were premised on the assumption that office rents would rise; instead, the economy crashed.
.. Vulture investors bought the debt, threatening foreclosure. Kushner felt besieged, with few friends and no leverage.
.. Kushner didn’t forget who had been unkind to him along the way.
.. Kushner emerged from the crisis with a reputation as a gutsy dealmaker.
.. “He’s very uncluttered in his mind,”
.. “I think that simplicity allows him to filter some things out.”
.. Kushner managed to tune out the doubts of those who thought the prices he and his partners had paid, more than $1 billion in all, were hard to justify.
.. Kushner’s public identity underwent its own conversion. In the newspapers, he was no longer inevitably identified as a felon’s son — he was Ivanka’s husband, an auxiliary Trump.
.. Kushner and a local partner developed the building on a site they bought out of foreclosure in 2011. As is his practice, Trump lends his name via a branding and management deal, while Kushner’s partnership owns and financed the development.
.. The partnership raised about a third of its projected $193 million cost via the federal EB-5 program, which offers green cards to foreign investors. Bloomberg News reported that it was marketed to would-be Chinese immigrants
.. he would return to New York, which was dwelling in its comfortable delusions. “Nobody has less credibility than the people in this town,” he recently told an associate. “If you want to talk with yourselves all day and convince yourselves that you’re right, that’s what people in this town do all day.” Trump was giving voice to authentic grievances, Kushner thought
.. For all the criticism he has encountered, though, Kushner has displayed supreme confidence in his own judgment.
.. “If the campaign was proof of anything, it was that neither prior campaign experience nor, perhaps especially, presidential-campaign experience was required,”
.. “Pollsters are total thieves,” he said in his speech to the Partnership. Kushner pushed the campaign to use direct-marketing strategies employed by private tech companies.
.. “Why did he have to do it that way, why did he say it this way? Et cetera,” he says. “And I would always get a typical Jared response from him that was, ‘Look, there’s a bigger picture here, you know, I know what he said maybe didn’t look good, but he really didn’t mean it that way.’
.. Kushner received more scorching emails, too, some of them from people he respected. He viewed these as useful data points — he now knew who his loyal friends were. “I call it an exfoliation,”
.. The criticism seemed to trigger a practiced defense mechanism. In private conversations, he would return to the prior experience of his father’s arrest and his brush with financial ruin at 666 Fifth. “I’ve been in quite a few foxholes in my life,”
.. Kushner found in Bannon a strategist just as disdainful as he was of the traditional campaign playbook. “He threw the whole thing out,” Bannon says. “That’s why I bonded with him.”
.. Kushner arguably has more in common with Bannon — an insurgent attitude, a disdain for the GOP Establishment, a background in digital media — than with anyone in Trump’s orbit besides Ivanka.
.. Kushner, as a family member, was often the person called on to broach difficult conversations with Trump, such as firing Lewandowski or talking him out of offering the vice-presidency to Governor Chris Christie.
.. in its final days, the campaign needed $10 million to buy advertising in several key states, which analysts gave Trump little chance of winning, Kushner made the ask. “He appealed to him by saying, ‘I know this is family money and personal wealth, I get it, and I also know that you can win and we need that extra infusion,’ ”
.. Kushner recruited Bill Stepien, the ruthless campaign manager that Christie fired for his role in the bridge plot, to be Trump’s political director.
.. If Trump’s administration is anything like his campaign, or the rest of his life, it is likely to be split along lines of clan, with the conservative Republicans — Pence, Conway, and chief-of-staff Reince Priebus — competing for influence with the cadre of outsiders who are loyal to Trump, foremost among them Kushner and Ivanka
.. “Certainly a president needs someone to say, ‘Look, this isn’t helpful to you, this isn’t helpful to the country,’ ” Reed says. “I think Jared will play that role.” Still, there’s little evidence that anyone can moderate Trump, other than Trump himself
.. Some of the same Manhattan liberals who ostracized him during the campaign were rattled afterward, and they sent him emails, trying to offer healing words of congratulations and conciliation. These went right in the trash. Kushner is in no mood to offer comfort