“Failson” is a new term I’ve been hearing about, most recently on the Daily Beast. Author Molly Jung-Fast described a failson as “…a son of wealth and privilege who is equal parts incompetence, stupidity, and arrogance.” Three guesses who the most famous failson on the planet is right now: Donald J. Trump. Or, if you like, Failson 1. With six bankruptcies, a string of failed marriages and businesses, a shuttered “university,” his “foundation” fined and forced to close, it seems this is a small-time real estate developer who should have failed his way out of business. Except he had a wealthy father named Fred, who time and time again bailed his oldest son out of financial peril, thus creating a monster who never learned consequences or responsibility for his failings. Donald J. Trump is such a failson, he’s been impeached but probably won’t be removed from office.
Among royals, the major failson is the disgraced Randy Andy: Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Friend of the dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein; ex-husband of the deliciously tacky Fergie, or Sarah, Duchess of York. It’s hard to beat wealth and privilege when you’re the son of the British queen, and Andrew has enjoyed a lifetime of inherited wealth which technically only receiving £249,000 per year to perform his royal duties. Yet somehow he jetted all around the world, living the life of a billionaire while never really accomplishing very much himself.
But back to the Trump and two of his male progeny, Eric and Don Jr., who are keeping the failson tradition going. Academically, both excelled only at being mediocre. Don Jr. went to the University of Pennsylvania, his dad’s alma mater — but the undergrad school, not the coveted MBA program at the Wharton Business School, earning a degree in economics with no honors or no awards. One classmate remembered him like this:
Scott Melker, another classmate, wrote a viral Facebook post where he said every memory he had of Trump was of him stumbling around campus falling over or passing out while drinking. He also said Trump “absolutely despised his father and hated the attention that his last name afforded him.
After college, Don Jr. spent a year bartending in Aspen (because, of course, it was Aspen) before he finally joining the family
fraud scheme business at age 24 as an executive vice president. Because at 24 he was eminently qualified to go from partying and bartending to the kind of EVP position that most people spend years or decades working toward.
Donald Jr., who goes by Failson 2 and Uday Trump, just “wrote” a book called Triggered…Blah Blah Something Rude About The Left. It landed on the New York Times bestseller list when his
cult followers political benefactor, the Republican National Committee, bought $90K worth of them as donation giveaways. Not exactly a Pulitzer-winning move, but that’s how the failson game works! You fail at writing a book because its written for you. Then you fail at selling it, yet here you are, a New York Times best-selling author! Oh, to be a faildaughter!
Eric, who goes by Failson 3 and Qusay Trump, broke the failson tradition — he got into Georgetown University on his own. But that’s where his independent streak ended. After he graduated (also without a masters), he also became Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization — but clearly not because of his preternatural, savant-like business acumen. He oversees Trump’s golf courses, which, like all else Trump touches, is losing money.
But with Failson 2 running around the campaign trail with his new girlfriend, who’s minding the company store? Failson 3? Does it matter? Both failsons trust that Failson 1 will bail them out when needed. I suspect they know that no one would hire them otherwise, which is the hallmark of failsons everywhere.
Nor are Uday and Qusay the only failsons circling Failson 1. Jared Kushner, husband of the First Faildaughter, Ivanka, is another great example. Kusher, to paraphrase the late Molly Ivins, was born on home plate and thinks he hit a home run. Kushner is such a failson that he couldn’t get top secret security clearance. So Failson 1 had to give it to him.
Failson 1 has tasked Kushner, among other things, to tackle foreign policy (vague), trade policy (vague), criminal-justice reform (somewhat vague), reorganizing the entire federal government (super vague), national infrastructure (pretty vague), the opioid crisis (hazy) and Middle East peace (cue laughter). Not one of these items has been accomplished, or come close to being accomplished. Kushner is a failson who fails! And now, Failson 1 has assigned Kushner another job: overseeing the illegal land-grab to build his immoral border wall. Here’s to the kind of failure that real Americans can support.
Kushner’s biggest personal failure, of course, was to borrow $1.2B just before the financial collapse of 2008 to purchase the iconic 666 Fifth Avenue. Of this money pit purchased out of vanity, this is part of how bad it got:
The midtown Manhattan office tower owned by Kushner Cos. and Vornado Realty Trust is on track to lose $24 million this year, marking the worst performance for 666 Fifth Ave. since a 2011 refinancing. …The tower’s cash flow is enough to cover only about half of the debt payments on the building, down from 66 percent last year…
Kushner is that rarest of species: the super-failson! I won’t even talk about him destroying the New York Observer. Marrying Failson 1’s favorite faildaughter is maybe the only smart thing he’s ever done.
But wait — there’s more! There’s Kushner’s BFFF (the third “F” is for failson), Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, better known as MBS — BS if you’re nasty. Among the world’s failsons, MBS, son of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, is a global icon of failsonhood. Not only did he order and oversee the bloody butchering murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he got away with it, and Kushner is still kvelling:
Kushner said he’s still waiting for results of a U.S. investigation to assign blame, even though the CIA reportedly determined with a high degree of confidence that MBS ordered the murder, and the U.S. Senate unanimously declared that he was responsible.
MBS still gets to be king when his daddy dies! Clearly, Kushner is in bed with MBS to push for a possible bailout for 666 Fifth Avenue from, no doubt, other Middle East failsons:
…months after his visit with MbS, Charles Kushner, Jared’s father and business partner, secured a bailout for their albatross of a loan on the 666 Fifth Avenue property that was costing Kushner Properties millions. The deal, which went through in August, was with Brookfield Property Partners, which is funded in part by Qatar Investment Authority, which has direct ties to the government of Qatar.
Back stateside, let’s not forget one of the minor failsons in our midst: Rudolph Giuliani’s son, Andrew, who has a $95,000 a year job at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison. His sole responsibility is to coordinate the occasional sports team coming by cold McDonalds. Leave it to a failson to supersize it.
Failson culture will be among us for the foreseeable future. They’re like the affluenza teens, like the pathetic Ethan Crouch. As the rich get richer through Failson 1’s tax breaks for the already wealthy, more kids will find failsonhood feasible. They won’t have to worry about their future because their parents created trusts to evade paying taxes and cheated to get them into college.