Donald Trump has a lot of feelings about fame

Kushner always keeps a low public profile
Kushner always keeps a low public profile

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Story highlights

  • Trump is a public figure who embraces that status with both arms
  • Fame is the way you can tell the winners from the losers in life

Washington (CNN)In a meeting with Republican congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday, the topic of President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, came up.

Trump "joked" that Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump and also serves as a White House strategist, has "become much more famous than me," adding: "I'm a little bit upset about that."
Ah ha ha ha. Ha. Ahem. Cough.
    Remember that Trump has said something similar about the fame of someone who works for him once before. "He's become more famous than me," Trump said of James Comey as he beckoned the then-FBI director over to him to shake hands at a law enforcement event at the White House in January.
    Within three months, Comey was fired and Trump was deriding him as a "showboat" and "a grandstander."
    That's not to say Kushner will follow Comey's trajectory. He almost certainly won't -- because Trump values nothing as much as he values loyalty to family.
    But even though Kushner isn't on his way out of the White House anytime soon, Trump's aside about his fame is revealing -- in two ways.
    1. Trump views the entire world through the lens of fame and notoriety: Trump's measure of success is money, sure. But, even more importantly, it's fame. Lots of people are rich. Not all of those people are also cultural figures. He is. And he uses himself as a measuring stick by which to gauge others and his interactions with them.
    Remember his weird huddle with Kanye West during the presidential transition? What was that about? It was about fame and notoriety. Kanye has both and so, in Trump's eyes, merited a meeting -- and a photo op!
    Trump is a public figure who embraces that status with both arms. Fame is the way you can tell the winners from the losers in life.
    2. Trump makes very little distinction between good press and bad press: Like most people who crave and court the spotlight, Trump isn't someone to split hairs about how positive or negative the coverage of him is.
    Sure, he will thunder about how the media is so against him. But true defeat in Trumpworld is not bad press, it's no press.
    Kushner, of late, has taken on lots of bad press. Starting right around Trump's return from his recent foreign trip, Kushner's ties to Russia have come under more scrutiny. That's why he is more "famous" of late. But, to Trump, it doesn't really matter why you are famous. It matters that you are famous. That includes members of his own family.
    Trump's asides and "jokes" -- not to mention his tweets -- are almost always more revealing than his formal speeches and statements. This "famous" comment is no exception.