This week we highlight not so much an alternative fact as an alternative universe: President Donald Trump’s first cabinet meeting. You know the part of Thanksgiving when everyone is supposed to go around the table and say what they’re thankful for? It was kind of like that, except everybody was thankful for the same thing: Donald Trump and his supreme awesomeness.
Vice President Mike Pence kicked off the suck-up-fest by deeming it the “greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who’s keeping his word to the American people.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, apparently aware of the president’s obsession with his ratings, proclaimed, “The response is fabulous around the country,” and specifically that “law enforcement are so thrilled” with the new administration. “My hat's off to you,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the president, for his decision to drop out of the Paris climate accord. “The international community knows we’re back,” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley boasted. “You’re absolutely right,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said. “We are going to be able to take care of the people who really need it while at the same time, with your direction, we were able to focus on the forgotten man and woman, the folks who are paying those taxes.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt claimed the rest of the world is extremely receptive to President Trump’s environmental policies. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is “thrilled to have the opportunity to help you live up to your campaign promises.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gushed about the “hundreds and hundreds of people who were just thrilled, hanging out and watching” when President Trump swung by the DOT last week. “I want to thank you for getting this country moving again, and also working again,” she said. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called it a “blessing to serve your agenda.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue began by noting, “I just got back from Mississippi. They love ya there,” and he went on to “congratulate you for the men and women” (not all that many women, actually) “you’ve put around this table. The holistic team that’s working for America that’s making results in each and every area. … This is a team you’ve assembled that’s working hand in glove for the betterment of America. I want to thank you for that.”
Wow, no contestant on Celebrity Apprentice nailed fawning flattery quite like Mr. Trump’s collection of billionaires and once proud government officials.
In all fairness, we can thank President Trump for demonstrating that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — who sent out a Twitter video of his staff dialing the obsequiousness up to an 11 — actually has a sense of humor.
But otherwise, the president, who took all this with a straight face and the occasional solemn “thank you, thank you,” merely furthered his reputation as an approval-craving narcissist. But why should he be surprised by all the ego-stroking? If anything, it paled next to his self-assessment at the beginning of the meeting:
“Never has there been a president, with few exceptions — case of FDR, he had a major depression to handle — who has passed more legislation and who has done more things than what we’ve done,” Mr. Trump said. Of course, this president has passed no legislation to speak of. No Obamacare repeal. No tax reform. No funding for a border wall. And the biggest thing he’s done on the executive order front, the travel ban on citizens of six Muslim nations, has repeatedly been blocked in the courts. That's not to say he isn’t exceptional. No administration has been subject to a special counsel investigation so quickly, and no president has seen his approval rating drop this low this soon. But no hint of that reality penetrated Mr. Trump’s cabinet lovefest. It was the alternative universe of the week, and he is the black hole around which it revolved.
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