According to the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner is now being considered for a prominent White House job. He would not be the first son in law to hold a prominent position with a president. Consider the story of William McAdoo.
William McAdoo served in President Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet as the Secretary of Treasury. He was married to Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Eleanor, called “Nellie.”
Secretary McAdoo had a stellar career, servings as a U.S. Senator from California. Twice McAdoo was the Democratic front runner for president. He led on the first ballot at the DNC in 1920 and again in 1924.
More than 18 sons of presidents served with their father in the White House. And 14 daughter in laws served in some capacity in the White House as well.
Most recently, Barbara Eisenhower, the wife of John Eisenhower and daughter in law to President Dwight Eisenhower, served as the president’s hostess during out of town and international trips. Mamie Eisenhower, the first lady, had a terrible fear of flying and so Barbara became the president’s official companion on trips across the country.
In March, 1987, George W. Bush was brought into Washington, D.C. to help his father’s presidential campaign. I was running coalitions and George Bush, Jr. as he then called himself, was inserted above me. It was my privilege to travel with him in private jets, car caravans, buses, and commercial air travel and see him up close.
Bush, the son, became known as “the loyalty enforcer” and was so effective that I didn’t know how his father would be able to run the White House without him. But George Bush, Jr. was intent on returning to Texas to buy the Ranger and run for governor.
I had many conversations with him about it. Both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter had brought their sons into the White House to work with them, putting them on the RNC and DNC payroll respectively.
“Dad doesn’t want any Bush working in the White House.”
I frequently challenged him on the issue. Once in a meeting I casually mentioned a cousin who had helped us with the campaign and was wanting to work there.
A few days later he brought the cousin in while I was sitting with him in the office.
“Where do you want to work,” Bush snapped.
The cousin stuttered and said softly, “Well, I was thinking about…”
“No White House,” George W. shouted. “No Bush is going to work in the White House.”
“Well,” the cousin tried again, speaking softly, “I was thinking that maybe just for the first few months…”
“No. No Bush will work in the White House!” George W. reiterated. And his cousin nodded.
But a few months later, I was driving in through the White House gates for my job as special assistant to the president and there was his cousin, stopped at the gate being given a rough time by the guards. I stopped and helped identify him.
He had indeed, in spite of George, Junior’s insistence, gotten a job in the bowels of the OEOB and as it turned out he was incredibly important in helping to keep staffers loyal and on track. Just the threat of someone walking down the hall and talking to a Bush made all the difference int he world.
If George W. Bush had worked in his father’s White House there is no doubt in my mind that his father would have won re-election. George would have helped block the Richard Darman tax increase that broke his father’s campaign pledge, “Read my lips, no new taxes.”
But if having him on White House staff would have assured his father’s re-election in 1992, it would have also likely ruled out any future political career of his own. He would have helped his father’s presidency but lost any chance for his own.
Jared Kushner on senior White House staff makes a lot of sense. For Trump and for the nation.
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