Did you ever get to the end of a long, laborious job and, not satisfied with the outcome, ask “why did you bother?”
The New York Times basically asks this question of Jared Kursher regarding his vapid and sophomoric memoir of his time in the Trash Can Fire’s Whitehouse, Breaking
Real Bad… er… History.
Dwight Garner begins his review of the “500 page…slog” noting the incongruity of Kushner’s Secret Service nickname, “The Mechanic”, given that the only real qualification he brought to whatever his job was was cleaning up his father-in-law’s hamberder wrappers and hanging out on yachts with celebrities like Bono and Billy Joel.
But it is when he begins discussing the book proper, Garner hits his stride.
“Breaking History is an earnest and soulless — Kushner looks like a mannequin, and he writes like one — and peculiarly selective appraisal of Donald J. Trump’s term in office. Kushner almost entirely ignores the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership, and so on, ad infinitum, to speak about his boyish tinkering (the “mechanic”) with issues he was interested in.
This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what’s left amid the ashes: the two singed bathtubs, the gravel driveway and the mailbox. Kushner’s fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo.“
Now, there’s a descriptor that will have me running to the bookstore.
Garner then continues his immolation, turning his white hot flamethrower on Kusher’s literary stylings:
“Every political cliché gets a fresh shampooing. “Even in a starkly divided country, there are always opportunities to build bridges,” Kushner writes. And, quoting the former White House deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell: “Every day here is sand through an hourglass, and we have to make it count.” So true, for these are the days of our lives.”
Maybe Jared has a future writing for the soaps.
He then recounts the formative experiences of Kushner’s young adulthood, defending his father who hired a hooker to sleep with his brother-in-law then sending a video of the encounter to his sister, converting Ivanka to Judaism, and buying and ruining a perfectly good newspaper – The New York Observer.
Garner describes the internecine battles Kushner engaged with Steve Bannon, Rex Tillerson, John Kelly et al, besting and outlasting all of them, to remain one of the Orangeutan’s most trusted advisors, while wryly noting Jared’s almost complete lack of knowledge of the events of January 6th, 2021.
He glosses over, as is appropriate, the one achievement Kushner will nauseatingly hang his hat on for the rest of our natural lives, The “Abraham Accords”, which purportedly brought peace to the Middle East… a proposition that the Israelis and Palestinians are busily putting the lie to.
Maybe “the Mechanic” could have better invested his time preventing dear dad-in-law from trying to burn our democracy down to its foundation.
In summation Garner writes:
“You finish “Breaking History” wondering: Who is this book for? There’s not enough red meat for the MAGA crowd, and Kushner has never appealed to them anyway. Political wonks will be interested — maybe, to a limited degree — but this material is more thoroughly and reliably covered elsewhere. He’s a pair of dimples without a demographic.
What a queasy-making book to have in your hands. Once someone has happily worked alongside one of the most flagrant and systematic and powerful liars in this country’s history, how can anyone be expected to believe a word they say?”
I suppose The Heritage Foundation and Hillsdale College will buy enough copies of Breaking History to put it briefly on some bestseller lists, but for the rest of us this tome is undoubtedly better suited as an expensive, and not particularly decorative, doorstop.