As bad as the January 6 select committee hearings are for Donald Trump, they are incalculably worse for his dependents—his failspawns. If you’re not familiar with the term, a failspawn is the adult child of a wealthy or famous parent or in-law who coasts off the largesse and accomplishments of said parent or in-law. In 2019, I defined the more specific term failson this way: “One is not born a failson. Nor does one simply inherit the status of failson. No—failson status is earned through a display of equal parts incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance.” If you’re hawking meat with the discount code “MAGAKING” for a company that lost its Better Business Bureau accreditation, you might be a failspawn. As a beneficiary of nepotism myself, I am not condemning the entire failspawn lifestyle, only the democracy-undermining style practiced by the younger Trumps.

On Thursday, during the first installment of the January 6 hearings, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner appeared on-screen for a few brief moments that nevertheless proved to be a blistering self-humiliation.

Kushner’s testimony is a master class in the dangers of being a dumb person who thinks they’re a smart person. As he told the committee, recalling the final days of his father-in-law’s administration, “I—I kind of—like I said, my interest at that time was on trying to get as many pardons done. And I know that, you know, [then–White House counsel Pat Cipollone] was always—him and the team were always saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to resign. We’re not going to be here if this happens, if that happens.’ So I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honest with you.” Maybe Kushner thought he was explaining his no-nonsense attitude, but in reality, he was freely admitting to dismissing the concerns of lawyers who were threatening to resign over Trump’s immoral and likely unconstitutional behavior.

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