But then, while New Jersey has become increasingly diverse, it’s also a place where dollar signs largely determine status and conspicuous consumption is celebrated as an inalienable right. “Fast Cars, Women, Money!” read the poster that the guy from Alpine (an enclave of celebrities and multimillionaires), who lived next door to me in my freshman dorm at college, unabashedly pinned to the wall over his bed. Naturally, it featured a bikini model sprawled across a Porsche.
Moreover, feeling left out often translates into an eagerness to be “let in” — an impulse that seems to have informed Mr. Kushner’s post-collegiate years. After graduating from Harvard and, following his father’s imprisonment, taking the helm of the family real estate business, Jared Kushner moved both himself and the company to Manhattan. There, he established his urban sophisticate bona fides by purchasing both an in-the-know newspaper (The Observer, read most avidly by the media and real estate elite) and a trophy Fifth Avenue high-rise (for which he famously overpaid) and, later, marrying a Park Avenue princess, albeit herself only one generation removed, at least on her father’s side, from similarly unfashionable Queens.
In Philip Roth’s novella “Goodbye, Columbus,” the Newark working-class hero, Neil Klugman, spends a summer coveting both the supple body and well-stocked house of the rich and saucy Radcliffe student Brenda Patimkin, of Short Hills, adjacent to Livingston. Even though Mr. Kushner is far wealthier than Klugman is meant to be, it’s possible to see the presidential son-in-law as a later-generation Klugman metaphorically opening Ivanka’s refrigerator, as Klugman opens Brenda’s, and marveling at all the fresh fruit. Though in Mr. Kushner’s case, perhaps his awe had more to do with her fridge being empty. Eating at home, after all, is for the merely bourgeois.
In the past year Mr. Kushner has pulled off the ultimate insider coup — an office in the West Wing. Even with all the scandals swirling around him, no doubt he considers himself to be a great success. Yet it’s hard not to feel that he’s making the same mistake that so many Trump voters did regarding wealth and entitlement — namely, confusing money for virtue and accomplishment — and the luck of birth for talent. If so, this might account for Mr. Kushner’s apparent confidence that he can act in whatever manner he sees fit.
In any case, Mr. Kushner hasn’t entirely abandoned his Jersey roots. He and Ms. Trump maintain a weekend home at Trump National Golf Club in horsy Bedminster. And a stalled Kushner Companies plan to build a large residential and office tower complex in Jersey City appears to be back on.
This follows an embarrassing misstep last spring, when Mr. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, traveled to Beijing to pitch the project, which offered fast-track EB-5 United States visas in exchange for $500,000 investments in it. At an event to court Chinese investors, Ms. Meyer mentioned Mr. Kushner, and a slide during a presentation displayed a picture of President Trump, implying to some that she was selling access to her brother, who had divested his interests in the project, and, by extension, to the White House. (Her company later denied any such intent.)
Mr. Trump was unlikely to have been pleased. But as a fellow bridge-and-tunnel guy made “good,” the president, of all people, should know that you can never fully escape where you come from.
Source: New York Times