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Dana Milbank: Prince Jared and the wrong fairy tale

“Two princes: Kushner now faces a reckoning for Trump’s bet on the heir to the Saudi throne”

— Washington Post headline, Oct. 15

Excerpted from: “Salmanella and the Glass Orb: How Prince Charming Met His Prince Charming”

Once upon a time in the year 2017 — before Ulysses S. Grant was recognized as a great general, before Frederick Douglass was recognized for his amazing work and before Napoleon had his extracurricular activities — there lived a handsome young prince by the name of Jared. Some called him Jared the Silent, but most used his preferred name, Prince Charming.

And what a charmed existence Jared led! He earned a fortune from his family’s investments in commercial palaces but paid almost no federal income taxes. He made a bad investment and lost money, but lenders bailed him out. Around the world, other princes and dukes thought Prince Jared was ignorant and easily manipulated. But what others thought about the prince did not matter, for Jared’s father-in-law was the king — the ruler of the House of Orange.

But for all Prince Jared possessed, he did not have what he wanted most dearly: Saudi money. With envy, Jared saw how the Saudis spent millions at his father-in-law’s hotels. Could he not obtain their money, too? “Please, father,” Jared beseeched the king. “Take me to that wonderful land.”

Now, Saudi Arabia was not really the paradise of young Jared’s imagination but the dark kingdom that produced Osama bin Laden and his evil hijackers. The country persecuted women and made war on innocent people. But the Saudi leader, King Salman, waved a wand for Jared’s royal visit, and the despotic country was magically transformed into the peaceful, reforming society of Jared’s fantasy. King Salman threw a great ball, and Jared was captivated by the military bands, the fighter-jet flyover and, especially, the magic sword dance.

King Salman waved his wand again and there, at the ball, was a ball: a great, glowing glass orb — the prettiest in the whole world! When Prince Jared touched the shimmering orb, a spell came over him. He came to believe that King Salman’s heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or Salmanella, was the fairest of them all. The glass orb told Prince Jared that Salmanella, nearly as charming as Jared, was not the bloodthirsty climber some feared but rather a young reformer who believed in human rights. The orb led Jared to believe that if he embraced Salmanella, his land would be blessed with $270 billion in Saudi arms payments, Saudi investments and lots of cheap oil.

Prince Charming had found his Prince Charming. Or so he thought!

It came to pass that Jared did everything he could to make the beautiful image of Salmanella he saw in the glass orb fit reality. He looked away when the Saudi prince killed civilians in Yemen, imprisoned rivals in the dungeon of the Ritz-Carlton, kidnapped the Lebanese prime minister and made mischief in Syria. Jared and his friends did all they could to win Salmanella’s heart: busting up Middle East diplomacy and tearing up an agreement with Iran, incurring the wrath of the world — whatever it took to charm the charming prince.

But when the clock struck midnight on the day the arms deals were to be signed, there was no $270 billion. There wasn’t even $110 billion. The Saudi promises amounted to rags. And when Jared presented his new Middle East peace plan — a plan he had written himself, with love — King Salman and Salmanella rejected it.

Just then, when it seemed the sad prince’s despair could not be deeper, Jared learned that Salmanella — his Salmanella — was suspected of ordering 15 evil henchman to Turkey to kidnap a journalist living in Jared’s own land, and kill him. Salmanella denied it, but there were, reportedly, tapes. To his horror, Prince Jared discovered he was in the wrong fairy tale: His Prince Charming had turned into a beast!

Ridicule rained on the disgraced Prince Jared for his naive trust in the bad prince. And here our story might have ended, had a revelation not occurred to Jared in the depths of his sorrow: Salmanella may be unscrupulous, but he was still super rich! And so Jared decided that, Prince Charming or not, the shoe fit.

Prince Jared and Salmanella did real estate deals together. They didn’t pay taxes. They got recognized more and more. And they lived happily ever after.

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.