This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, January 11, 2017:
Jared Kushner’s father-in-law, Donald Trump, gave him an early birthday present, naming him to his new administration as a senior advisor on Monday. The next day Kushner turned 36.
Married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka (shown), Kushner responded to the “all hands on deck” message following Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention last summer. Kushner dropped everything and started building a national political campaign from scratch. Blessed with precious little political experience, but with smarts (degrees from Harvard and New York University), Kushner saw the problem: no staff, no money, no experience, no strategy, no nothing. So he called on some of his contacts in social networking, asking for referrals to the brightest and the best to help.
He found Brad Parscale, a web designer in San Antonio, and built a team of 100 people around him. Calling the team “Project Alamo,” the two learned the ropes quickly: traditional TV, radio, and print advertising were 1) expensive, and 2) not very effective in reaching the people Trump needed to win. Instead, through trial and error, Kushner spent less and less on TV and radio and focused on the social networking tools Facebook and Twitter. Said Kushner:
We weren’t afraid to make changes. We weren’t afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn’t working, we would kill it quickly.
It meant making quick decisions, fixing things that were broken, and scaling [up] things that worked.
As the campaign began to gain traction, “Project Alamo” morphed into an advisory team for Trump, dictating every campaign decision: travel, fundraising, advertising, even rally locations and the speech topic at each of them.
Eric Schmidt, the Google billionaire, admitted that Kushner learned something that traditional media people and the Hillary Clinton campaign didn’t:
Jared understood the online world in a way that traditional media folks didn’t. He managed to assemble a presidential campaign on a shoestring, using new technology, and [they] won.
That’s a big deal. Remember all those articles about how they had no money, no people, no organizational structure? Well, they won, and Jared ran it.
Being unable to find anything of substance to fault Kushner for, the anti-Trump media focused on nepotism rules that were put in place after President John F. Kennedy named his brother, Robert, as his Attorney General. Those phony concerns were squashed by Jamie Gorlick, an attorney who had also advised Clinton:
We’ve discussed this with the Office of Government Ethics. I’m very comfortable that this arrangement is appropriate under the rules. The [OGE] has given us advice and we [have] followed it.
The anti-nepotism rules don’t apply to “the immediate office of the president,” said Gorelick, and besides, Congress has passed a law saying that the president can have “total discretion” over whom he picks for his staff.
To be certain that there is little conflict of interest, Kushner is ridding himself of nearly every bit of his $200 million investment portfolio. He is resigning as CEO of Kushner Companies, the real estate firm that he inherited from his father and built into a major presence in New York City. He is also resigning as publisher of his newspaper, the New York Observer. He is selling his stocks in foreign companies, and is divesting himself of his interest in his company’s property at 666 Fifth Avenue as well as his interest in his brother’s firm, Thrive Capital. And Gorelick will be there to advise him on when he must recuse himself, as necessary, on matters that could relate to his wife’s businesses and his other remaining holdings.
In a nutshell, without Kushner’s efforts, Hillary Clinton would be taking office on January 20 instead of Trump. What Kushner did is not only learn the new social dynamics necessary to elect a president by discovering what people wanted, what they feared, and how they felt on various topics on a real-time basis, but he learned what it’s going to take to keep the new president informed as he moves ahead with his agenda.
In other words, what Kushner did was change forever how future presidential campaigns will be won, or lost, as well as how they will remain relevant to the voters who put the president into office.
As an added bonus, Kushner’s strategy means that the mainstream media is no longer in a position to twist, spin, or massage that message, reducing its relevance in today’s political conversation even further.
Kushner won the White House for his father-in-law; Kushner will stay on to make sure he keeps it.
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