In New York society, you’re nobody until somebody hates you. By which maxim Jared and Ivanka Kushner will be extremely high-profile indeed. Expelled from the White House after four years, President Trump’s shoe-designer turned special advisor daughter and her real-estate mogul husband find themselves in need of a job and, perhaps more pressingly, somewhere to live.
Will they return to New York’s playground of the filthy rich where they used to pose on the Met Gala carpet and hobnob with the likes of Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng and oil tycoon Mikey Hess? Given not only the past four years but more recent indiscretions in DC, it seems unlikely.
New York insiders say they will be persona non grata, a fact which will surely not surprise the couple who long ago gave up on being seen as a moderating influence on Trump. The MAGA tribe are their people now and they would be welcomed with open arms in say, Arizona or Texas, although this may not be to their taste.
Luckily for the Kushners, plenty of society pariah couples have blazed the trail before them, offering up a road-map for next steps. Take, for example, Neil and Christine Hamilton. After one too many brown envelopes from Al-Fayed and a libel trial with the Guardian left his political career in tatters, Hamilton and his wife reinvented themselves as media stars. They kicked off their reinvention with the now canonical Louis Theroux documentary in which Christine forgot herself after a few shandies and openly flirted with Louis on the sofa. Not to be outdone in this department, Neil capitalized on this new strain of smutty fame and made such ignoble appearances as the opening of the 2004 Erotica festival and a performance in which he danced in a perspex cage for Johnny Vegas with fish being thrown down upon him.
Jared and Ivanka should take heart in the knowledge that these years in the political wilderness were eventually followed by a political comeback, first as UKIP leader to the Welsh Assembly and latterly as leader of UKIP itself. It is unclear whether the stench of fish lingers.
No pariah couple handbook would be complete without some mention of Harry and Meghan. Although they expelled themselves from Eden rather than waiting for democracy to do so, they remain the last word in commercial reinvention. From Netflix to Spotify they show themselves to be savvy operators of paid-for content on empathy, kindness and compassion. Of course, they’ll want nothing to do with the Kushners as they not-so-subtly let us know before the election, but I don’t think it will take long for the Sussexes to put all that forgiveness and compassion to good use with some kind of Meet the Kushners documentary. Ivanka will be well-versed in reality television from her father and, as Meghan says, “Love Always Wins”.
Long before the pressures of social media made life for society pariahs so much trickier, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson showed themselves to be adept and packing up and moving on to pastures new. Exiled from Britain and his beloved Fort Belvedere in Windsor Park, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor got on with the business of having a Jolly Good Time, surrounding themselves with pugs and letting the ice cubes clink long into the night. Needless to say, being a former Royal doesn’t half help your cause invitation-wise and in terms of hard-to-beat anecdotes. Jared Kushner is not the Duke of Windsor entertaining dinner parties with bons mots and it remains to be seen whether Ivanka’s tales of Steve Bannon’s hair or Kelly-Anne Conway’s larks will be quite as hard to resist.
We need not worry for the Kushners, who seem like the most resourceful and resilient of couples. Covid may clip their wings for a while but they seem set on moving to Indian Creek in Florida’s Miami-Dade county where they will find themselves in the company of other billionaires and, crucially, Trump voters. Like all good outcasts, they will come to know the sliding scale of belonging and ostracism and work it to their advantage. If they are savvy enough they will realize that the currency of insider information and connections is never devalued no matter how many rotten fish are heaped upon your head.