Ever since Donald Trump was elected President, he’s created a non-stop torrent of news, so much so that members of the media regularly claim...

Ever since Donald Trump was elected President, he’s created a non-stop torrent of news, so much so that members of the media regularly claim that he’s effectively trashed the traditional news cycle. Whether that’s true or not, it is hard to keep up with what’s going on in the White House, and each new uproar makes it difficult to remember what’s already happened. Take Trump’s first cabinet meeting, way back on June 12, 2017. Remember that? It began with Trump proclaiming, “Never has there been a president….with few exceptions…who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than I have.” This, despite the fact that he had yet to pass any major legislation through Congress.

Then it got odder. Trump listened as members of his Cabinet took turns praising him. Mike Pence started it off, saying, “The greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to the president who’s keeping his word to the American people.” Alexander Acosta, the Secretary of Labor, said, “I am privileged to be here–deeply honored–and I want to thank you for your commitment to the American workers.” And Reince (Rein-ze) Priebus, still then the President’s Chief of Staff, said, “We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing to serve your agenda.” As all of the praise rained down on him, Trump just looked on, smiled, and nodded approvingly.

Whats going on? Not only here but in the endless praise disguised as press releases that’s coming from the White House and Trump’s own Twitter account? Is this just good old fashioned ass-kissing or is there something more sinister happening? In their new book, Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy (University of Virginia Press, 2017), Mark and Deborah Parker explore this phenomenon of excessive flattery–why people do it and how it alters the social world that we all must share. The Parkers look at examples from literature, politics, and other disciplines to give us a portrait of this false-faced, slickly tongued, morally odious character, the sycophant.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial