One of the annual traditions over at Time magazine is the unveiling of the “Time 100,” which exists to remind everyone that the editors of the podiatrist waiting-room glossy have access to the world’s elite. Basically, they call up a bunch of famous people, ask them to write articles about another bunch of famous people, and then someone says, “Okay, that’s 100, we did it guys.” Later, there is a fancy party for all of these party-impoverished people.
Aging murder-satchel Henry Kissinger is apparently one of Time’s go-to eminences whenever there is a need for a handful of paragraphs to be written about some other toff, and this year, he’s somehow ended up drawing career nepotism hire and acting president of the United States Jared Kushner as his subject.
The resulting tribute? Well, it somehow manages to strip what scant “funk” remains in the word “perfunctory.” The phrase the internet has been using to describe this literary entanglement is “damning with faint praise,” but to be honest, it really damns Kushner with faint anything. It’s a wonder that Kissinger doesn’t begin by saying, “The Oxford English dictionary defines Jared as ...”
Let’s take a trip through this brief article, which I’m almost certain was submitted via Twitter DM. Per Kissinger:
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.
Aaaand, it is now halfway done! Did you know that presidential transitions exist? We’ve done them, more or less successfully, some 40-odd times, but maybe you didn’t notice that. Nevertheless, I suppose we are going to now hear about what makes Jared Kushner, “Time 100” honoree, uniquely gifted to handle the advisory role to which Kissinger alludes.
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.
Okay, so far we have Kissinger attesting to the fact that Jared Kushner is a thing that tangibly exists in space and time.
We have sporadically exchanged views since.
This is the only mention of an interaction between the two men. No “views” are documented or evaluated. Today, I got on an elevator and exchanged views about the nice spring weather with someone who works on the fourth floor of my building.
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.
Jared is apparently in a relationship with his father-in-law. He learned some indeterminate things at two universities. He likely noticed that “businesses” are run through “administrations,” rather than through midnight Wiccan dances or water balloon fights. As Vox’s Zach Beauchamp observes, there are numerous reasons to doubt that Kushner has even the level of experience and attainment that Kissinger mentions in passing.
Where is this going? There is one sentence left in this piece, and it had better deliver.
All this should help him make a success of his daunting role flying close to the sun.
Ahh, yes. An Icarus reference. Very auspicious. And rather on the nose: Icarus famously took to the sky on wings fashioned from wax and perished when he flew too close to the sun. Additionally, Icarus’ father figure, Daedalus, was trapped within a labyrinth prison of his own making. Clever boy, this Kissinger. (Of course, the thing that sets Kushner apart from Icarus is that Jared may be entirely held together by wax.)
In case you’re wondering if Kissinger is always vague in his praise, a useful comparison can be made to his 2015 “Time 100” contribution, celebrating Elizabeth Holmes, in which Kissinger is far more florid and specific in his praise ― which may be simply due to the fact that he sat on the board of Holmes’ start-up, Theranos. Here’s Kissinger, enthusing:
Elizabeth Holmes’ is a story that could happen only in America. After her sophomore year she left Stanford to devote herself to a vision of health care available as a basic human right. When I was introduced to Elizabeth by George Shultz, her plan sounded like an undergraduate’s dream. I told her she had only two prospects: total failure or vast success. There would be no middle ground.
Well, Kissinger was certainly right about that. Holmes, too, traversed the sky in an Icarian manner. Theranos was birthed into the world and backed by a mountain of Silicon Valley funder ducats with the goal of revolutionizing blood-extraction technology. But in October 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was not close to delivering on the promises it had made, and Holmes was dogged by further controversy after subsequent reports demonstrated that Theranos was a dangerous, serial violator of lab standards and government regulations.
This might indicate that receiving a tribute from Kissinger in the “Time 100” may be the kiss of death. Nevertheless, the silver lining here is that if Kissinger’s profile of Kushner demonstrates anything, it’s that in the end, someone affiliated with Theranos proved themselves capable of draining the blood from something after all.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.