Time magazine has named top White House adviser Jared Kushner as one of its 100 most influential people. Usually, when you're given that distinction, a magazine like Time will reach out to someone who knows you and can vouch for your superior influential-ness and prowess.
Instead, Kushner got Henry Kissinger.
Here is Kissinger's write-up for Kushner, with whom he has apparently spoken a few times:
Transitioning the presidency between parties is one of the most complex undertakings in American politics. The change triggers an upheaval in the intangible mechanisms by which Washington runs: an incoming President is likely to be less familiar with formal structures, and the greater that gap, the heavier the responsibility of those advisers who are asked to fill it.
This space has been traversed for nearly four months by Jared Kushner, whom I first met about 18 months ago, when he introduced himself after a foreign policy lecture I had given. We have sporadically exchanged views since. As part of the Trump family, Jared is familiar with the intangibles of the President. As a graduate of Harvard and NYU, he has a broad education; as a businessman, a knowledge of administration. All this should help him make a success of his daunting role flying close to the sun.
Kushner isn't the only member of the Trump team to get some lukewarm words about his job rather than himself. Former White House chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) wasn't exactly dispensing compliments to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
But Kissinger comes from the same party as the White House. And if you read these two paragraphs closely, it's not just that he's damning Kushner with faint praise; he's also making a very unfriendly parallel to Greek mythology.
The first paragraph above says nothing about Kushner, but instead about the job he faces. Let's take the rest sentence by sentence:
“This space has been traversed for nearly four months by Jared Kushner, whom I first met about 18 months ago, when he introduced himself after a foreign policy lecture I had given. We have sporadically exchanged views since.”
This is establishing familiarity — ostensibly so Kissinger can provide us some personal details or testimonials about Kushner that we may not be aware of.
“As part of the Trump family, Jared is familiar with the intangibles of the President.”
Okay, that's a benefit of being the guy's son-in-law, certainly. But it's also what you'd expect.
“As a graduate of Harvard and NYU, he has a broad education … "
As do many people who are not on the list of Time's 100 most influential people.
" … as a businessman, a knowledge of administration.”
An even broader pool of Americans could claim this distinction. We seem to be working small to big here.
“All this should help him make a success of his daunting role flying close to the sun.”
This seems like it might be a vote of confidence, but it's also thick with not-so-friendly subtext. Kissinger writes that the basic elements of Kushner's biography outlined above “should” help make him successful -- but also that he's taken on a “daunting role flying close to the sun."
That seems a clear reference to Icarus in Greek mythology. Icarus was given wings made of feathers and wax by his father, Daedalus, and was told not to fly too close to the sun, for fear of melting the wax. But Icarus quickly fell in love with flight and forgot his father's admonition, falling to his death.
It's a tale about hubris, of which Kushner has often been accused of having too much. And it's a clear nod to the many problems Kushner has been tasked with, including Middle East peace, the opioid epidemic and overhauling how government functions.
Translation: Good luck, kid.
Update: Kushner's wife and fellow presidential adviser and top 100 influencer, Ivanka Trump, just tweeted how happy she was with her "beautiful tribute" from Wendi Murdoch.
(h/t Katherine Krueger)