Kushner tries to repackage failure as 'a great success story'

If Jared Kushner sees the federal response to the pandemic as "a great success story," I have a follow-up question: how would he define failure?
Image: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner looks on as President Donald Trump leads the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner looks on as President Donald Trump leads the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House, April 2, 2020.Tom Brenner / Reuters file
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By Steve Benen

At a distance, Jared Kushner appears to be in a position to know quite a bit about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Not only does Donald Trump's young son-in-law have unlimited White House access and influence, but the 39-year-old senior adviser is reportedly leading a "shadow task force" on the issue.

In other words, Kushner has had a front-row seat to the administration's failures -- though apparently hasn't yet recognized them.

During an interview on Fox News on Wednesday morning, Kushner said, "I think that we've achieved all the different milestones that are needed. So the government, federal government, rose to the challenge and this is a great success story. I think that's really what needs to be told."

Part of the problem with his misguided boast was the timing. Around the same time Kushner was telling a national television audience that the Trump administration's response to the crisis has been "a great success story," the U.S. death toll reached 60,000, the total number of U.S. infections topped 1 million, economic growth retreated to levels unseen since the peak of the Great Recession, and 30 million Americans filed for unemployment.

It is, in other words, an unfortunate time for one of the White House's top officials to stand before a camera and pat himself on the back for a job well done.

But that's really just the start. The other part of the equation is the fact that the Trump administration's response to the crisis has been catastrophically bad. The president and his team ignored warnings. They downplayed threats. They failed to properly prepare. They struggled -- and continue to struggle -- to formulate a coherent plan of action.

They've provided the public with wrong, contradictory, and at times dangerous information. They've failed to meet public needs on supplies and materials. They've been slow, distracted, and too quick to pursue mistaken priorities.

If Kushner sees this as "a great success story," I have a follow-up question: how would he define failure?