Donald Trump’s White House walked on eggshells, with everyone trying to find ways to keep the ever-irascible President happy and, by so doing, maintain their power within the administration.
In a New York Times piece published Wednesday – based on a forthcoming book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser called “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021” – we got a good look at how Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and, at times, closest adviser, went about placating the boss.
“Mr. Kushner developed his own techniques for handling Mr. Trump. One key, he told others, was feeding the president good news, even if it was in short supply. In fact, Mr. Kushner came up with a specific mathematical formula for his peculiar brand of Trump management: two to one. Any phone call, any meeting should include this good-news-to-bad-news ratio. He would give twice as much upbeat information as grim updates. He similarly made a habit of telling Mr. Trump to add five points to any bad poll, rationalizing that traditional surveys missed many Trump voters anyway, part of a common White House practice of telling the president what he wanted to hear regardless of the facts.”
So, one of the President’s top advisers, as a matter of practice, fed him overly rosy news and inflated poll numbers – all to please Trump.
This is, of course, not terribly surprising. The way to stay in Trump’s good graces – or, at least, to avoid being thrown out of his inner circle – is to keep him happy.
Kushner, ever the survivor, figured out how to do just that, which ensured that he kept the President’s ear.
Again, not surprising. And you might be tempted to simply roll your eyes and relegate this to the history books – yet one more example of how Trump’s worst instincts were enabled by those close to him as a means of retaining power and influence.
Except that, well, Trump isn’t done on the national stage. Every sign – including what he says publicly – points to him running again in 2024.
And if you think that Trump will campaign for the White House again and that Kushner will NOT be involved, then let me please introduce you to the past six years of Trump running for things.
A Trump 2024 bid would likely have Kushner (and Ivanka) right in the heart of it. Which makes his previous – and future – appeasing of the former President all the more problematic.
The Point: Telling someone what they want to hear – especially when you know it’s a) not true or b) a wild exaggeration – isn’t great under any circumstances. Doing it when that person is the president of the United States (or a future candidate for that office) is downright dangerous.