Cabinet Meeting: Ado About Nothing

Yesterday, as anyone who is paying attention knows by now, the President held his “first” Cabinet meeting — and by “first” he means his first where he had a full complement of Cabinet members — and that meeting opened with each Cabinet member singing President Trump’s praises. And ended with him singing his own.

More than a few things come to mind in reaction but let me focus on just two:

  • The President doesn’t have anywhere near the successes he claims to have in his first few months in office
  • The Cabinet includes billionaires and men and women who have earned great success in their careers and they, now, are relegated to the Greek chorus in a Shakespeare play.

What happened in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting was what happens in two-bit dictatorships all the time — the leader’s underlings tell him what he wants to hear or suffer the consequences.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went so far as to say it was a “blessing” that he and the others were given the opportunity to serve Trump. Priebus has been rumored to be on his way out of the White House since the day he arrived. You just can’t suck up enough.

All this praise came from the same seats that once were filled by people like Howard Baker, Harold Ickes, Robert Gates, Condi Rice and others. These were not yes men or women. They gave their honest advice to the President, as they were hired to do. But not this crowd.

Many in the Cabinet are also billionaires, men and women who have enjoyed huge success in their careers. And we now see the proof of what being a billionaire tells us about people…nothing. They still don’t stand up to Donald Trump.

The only exception yesterday was Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis — a career military man who was the only one reported who did not bow down to Trump but spoke of the “honor” he had to serve the men and women of our military. So the only one who didn’t join the chorus publicly was a career “bureaucrat” and a man who lived by “rank order” his whole career. He broke ranks yesterday. The billionaires held firm.

Interesting that those “successful” men and women who sat in chairs of servants yesterday, were men and women used to being “the leader.” Now they are “the sycophants.”

In reality, the President’s “successes,” are difficult to identify. He did secure approval of his first nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court — but only because the Senate changed its rules to approve by a simple majority (the Republican Party has a majority of 52–48 in the Senate). If the old rule (60 votes) held, we would still be short one Court member.

And while a few dozen pieces of legislation have passed the Congress, none is one of Trump’s key desires — repeal and replacement of Obamacare and a big tax bill.

Among the bills he has signed so far, according to the Washington Post: “two name Veterans Affairs clinics in honor of people, one adds National Vietnam War Veterans Day to the list of days people and businesses are encouraged to fly American flags, five are related to personnel matters (including the waiver allowing James Mattis to become secretary of defense), and one extends an Obama-era policy allowing veterans in some circumstances to get health care outside of the VA system.” Many others reverse federal rules-set in prior years.

Of the President’s “Contract with the American Voter,” promised during his campaign, only one, the American Health Care Act, made it through the House and is, so far, dead in the Senate.

That makes up pretty much all of his accomplishments so far, what he called a “record-setting” pace for a new Administration.

Meanwhile, the fact that the Russians messed with our elections last year is still being investigated and all 17 intelligence agencies agree that they did. This is a scary fact. Whether Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians or not, we can’t forget that the Russians messed with our country.

But there seems to be no concern about that from the White House. Since everything is about himself, Trump views the investigations as aimed at him, when they are first aimed at the Russians. Today there is a report that the Russians hacked into the voting records of 39 states!

But the President has yet to mention the Russian intrusion which, whether aided at all by people who work for Trump, is a very big thing.

No shocks here. President Trump is running his presidency much as he ran his business — with marketing more than substance. Focused on himself more than anyone else.

The name alone doesn’t carry much weight when you’re the President. It’s what you do that matters.

There hasn’t been much “do” so far but, much like Trump’s Cabinet being the Shakespearean Greek chorus, so far there has been much ado about nothing.

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Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.

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