Donald Trump tends not to trust many of the officials around him, which leads the president to keep things within the family -- literally. His young and inexperienced son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has an almost comically broad policy portfolio, featuring incredibly complex challenges that even experienced officials -- those who know what they're doing -- would find difficult.
Trump has tasked Kushner with tackling, among other things, foreign policy, trade policy, criminal-justice reform, infrastructure, reimagining the Veterans Administration, tackling the opioid crisis, and striking a Middle East peace agreement.
Part of the problem is that Kushner isn't succeeding and many of his plans have crumbled. The other part of the problem is that the president isn't done adding to his son-in-law's to-do list. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
President Trump has made his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the de facto project manager for constructing his border wall, frustrated with a lack of progress over one of his top priorities as he heads into a tough reelection campaign, according to current and former administration officials.Kushner convenes biweekly meetings in the West Wing, where he questions an array of government officials about progress on the wall, including updates on contractor data, precisely where it will be built and how funding is being spent.... The president's son-in-law and senior adviser is pressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process of taking over private land needed for the project as the government seeks to meet Trump's goal of erecting 450 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2020.
This may not be quite as difficult as Kushner's failed Middle East peace initiative, but it's close. The administration has just recently begun work on 83 miles of new border barriers.
If Trump's goal of 450 miles of new fencing is going to be met by Election Day, Kushner and his colleagues won't just have to seize private land and redirect funds away from military families, they'll also have to construct about a mile of barriers per day, every day, between now and Nov. 3, 2020.
It's a daunting challenge -- legally, logistically, politically -- and there's little to suggest Kushner has a plan to succeed. In fact, given his other recent failures, Kushner's track record does not inspire confidence.
The New York Times' Frank Bruni concluded this morning, "Remember how he and Ivanka were going to contain the president's ego, blunt his cruelty, whisper sweet moderation in his ear? That was then. Now he's devoting himself to an exorbitant, unnecessary monument to Trump's nativism and xenophobia. There's an upside, though. With Jared in the saddle, this horse won't go far."