Kushner plays peek-a-boo

I must admit I giggled when the story broke that Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was inadvertently locked out while trying to enter a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade meeting in Washington, D.C.

I’ll bet it was the longest one minute and forty-seven seconds of his life.

Child playing peek-a-boo as a metaphor for Jared Kushner's exchange with the media
Mr. Kushner is seen walking up the street to the office of the US trade representative. He and his companion (which could have been an assistant or a Secret Service agent) walked up to the door leading to NAFTA negotiations, attempted to open it, and discovered it was locked.

´┐╝Reporters started shouting questions as Mr. Kushner stood with his nose nearly pressed to the door in a bizarre adult version of peek-a-boo. You know the game. I can’t see you, therefore you can’t see me.

And the game became the story.



As anyone who knows me knows, I am not big a big fan of obfuscation. But I have always believed that spokespeople should protect themselves first and their organizations second—even spokespeople whose worldview is something to which I do not fundamentally agree or subscribe. In this case, obfuscation would have been vastly superior to the alternative of having your nose bizarrely pressed against the door.

What a seasoned unelected representative of the people would have done is switched places with the other person and quietly asked that person to continue gently knocking on the door. He or she could have then asked journalists for a quick second to call or text someone inside, and done one or the other. Then, a seasoned representative would have turned to face reporters who were asking relatively simple questions:

  • Will there be a deal tonight on NAFTA?
  • Are you concerned about the op-ed (in the New York Times)?
  • How are things going on NAFTA? Is it ok?
  • How is it going with Canada? Is there progress tonight?
  • Any words on the mood of the room?
  • Is Canada making any compromises?
Sidestepping these relatively benign questions would be easy. Anyone can teach that skill, and the result would have been a lot better than what we saw. For example, Mr. Kushner could have responded with:

Will there be a deal tonight on NAFTA?
“The negotiations are continuing on an agreement with Canada and I can’t say when a deal will be finalized. However, I can assure you that both sides are putting forward their perspective and we will have to let the process unfold.”

Are you concerned about the op-ed (in the New York Times)?
Yes, I am very concerned about it, and I can assure you that the president is very concerned about it as all. Particularly since the person who wrote it has chosen to remain anonymous. The president is extremely disappointed that someone within the White House has chosen to step outside of the privilege of their office to undermine this administration.”

Yes, I know. If he did this he would say blah, blah, blah. But in this specific situation, impersonating one of my favourite cartoon characters would have trumped peek-a-boo every single time.