Yesterday’s weird, televised segment of the Cabinet meeting was troubling in many ways. If you missed it, and I am envious if you did because it will haunt my nightmares for a long time, here is what happened:
Trump began by giving a positive assessment of his first 143 days and said,”Never has there been a President….with few exceptions…who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than I have.” Bad start. Trump, in fact, has signed very few bills. “Never—with few exceptions”—is classic Trump-speak, aka gibberish. This is also the kind of statement Trump’s Furies call “lies.” This was not a lie. In some convoluted way, the President thinks its sort of true. THAT’S the problem, not that he’s lying.
This was just the appetizer, though. The full course was the Cabinet officials, one by one, around the table, taking turns praising their boss. This could not have been spontaneous. It reminded me of “King Lear”s” opening when the old, fading monarch requires each of his three daughters to tell him how much they love him as the price for getting a piece of his kingdom.
The charade began with Vice President Pence, who called it the “greatest privilege of my life” to serve in the Trump administration. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was an “honor” to serve Trump, and the rest of Trump’s Cabinet more or less aped what Pence or Sessions had said. Maybe they had all been given talking points. As a final inducement to projectile vomiting, Lackey-in-Chief Reince Priebus gave us a suck-up for the ages:
“On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people And we’re continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals.”
And may I fellate you here, sir, or later?
Disgusted and depressed observations:
1. This is exactly the kind of self-destructive fiasco a top Chief of Staff who has a proven record running successful government operations on the state or national level could and would prevent. Instead, Trump has a Chief of Staff who actively made it worse. In February, Ethics Alarms featured my post calling for the appointment of such a figure as “the single most ethical thing President Trump could do.” That was four months ago, and this is more desperately needed now than ever.
2. Since this horrible display did happen, we now can say with certainty that none of the President’s inner circle has the influence, guts or common sense to stop him when he yields to his worst instincts.
3. We can also conclude that not a single member of the President’s Cabinet possesses sufficient integrity, courage, principle or self respect to be trusted by the American public. These are billionaires and generals, and not one said to Trump, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but this will make you look weak and me look like an ass-kissing yes-man. I won’t do it, nor will I remain in a Cabinet stocked with lapdog sycophants who would debase themselves and their high offices by doing it. Do you discard this idiotic charade, or do I resign now?”
Shame on them, every one.
4. The spectacle reminded me of something else. Josef Stalin would have the entire Politburo rise and applaud when he entered the room. He also had someone taking down the name of the member who stopped applauding first. That man would usually vanish forever within a day or two. Eventually, nobody was willing to stop applauding, so the clapping went on interminably. Eventually a light was installed in the chamber that signaled that it was time to stop the seal imitations.
5. At CNN, Chris Cillizza’s analysis of what yesterday’s embarrassment signified was that “Flattery will get you everywhere. Donald Trump’s favorite topic of conversation is Donald Trump. The best way to talk about Donald Trump, if you want to keep working for Donald Trump, is to praise Donald Trump. The more over-the-top, the better.”
This is a Trump-hater’s bias at work. No, it’s a lot more than that. This episode shows how insecure the President is, in great part due to the around-the-clock hate, disrespect and ridicule he has been subjected to. It shows how much he craves loyalty, and needs to feel that he has the support of his “troops,” when he knows that within his own executive branch and probably within the White House itself are hostile figures determined to undermine him with leaks and rumors.
From the beginning, we knew Trump would be challenged and probably overwhelmed by the requirements of a job that he was neither prepared nor qualified to undertake. Maybe he did too. It is impossible to succeed at a difficult task when you don’t feel confident. Of course Trump is a narcissist, but it isn’t only narcissists who benefit from believing that they have a chance, and are not hopelessly over-matched and doomed to defeat. For him to have any chance at all to be successful, Trump needed assistance and support, which includes the respect and loyalty of those around him. So far, he isn’t getting it. The President is desperate, and feeling cornered, unappreciated, and alone. For that, I don’t blame him.
6. As a general comment, let me state thatthis and the entire 143–now 144 days of blunders, botches and self-inflicted wounds are not out of line with what I expected if Donald Trump became President. It’s far from the worst case fantasies of the Hitler/Monster/ We’re all going to die! crowd—you know, the Democrats and the news media—but it is bad enough. I held out hope that like a few other under-qualified Presidents, Trump might rise to the occasion and surprise us, and I still have that hope, though the signs are certainly not encouraging. However, he will have no chance at all if members of the Democratic/progressive/news media cabal continues to undermine him to the detriment of the nation., and that clearly is what they intend to do. They should take yesterday as proof positive that their plan to make it impossible for the President to do the job he was elected to do, when he already entered the White House with unprecedented handicaps, is working.
That they view this as an accomplishment to take pride in more evidence of how corrupt and un-American they are.