Unidirectional loyalty

Robert Reich on Trump’s insistence on loyalty at the expense of integrity:

Last Monday, the White House invited reporters in to watch what was billed as a meeting of Trump’s Cabinet. After Trump spoke, he asked each of the Cabinet members around the table to briefly comment.

Their statements were what you might expect from toadies surrounding a two-bit dictator.

“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda,” said Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. “Greatest privilege of my life, to serve as vice president to a president who’s keeping his word to the American people,” said Vice President Mike Pence.

Reich points out that when he was sworn in as Clinton’s Labor Secretary he pledged loyalty to the Constitution, not to Bill Clinton.

That oath is a pledge of loyalty to our system of government – not to a powerful individual. It puts integrity before personal loyalty. It’s what it means to have a government of laws.

And specifically of laws, not of persons. It stands in opposition to monarchy and dictatorship and hero cult and all such forms of authoritarian bow-to-daddy rule. It’s a huge step in human progress, and we need to keep it.

But Trump is all about the loyalty, and the slavish loyalty at that. He demanded it from Comey before the inauguration crowds had gone home. He tried to get it from Preet Bharara, who was in a position to prosecute him should occasion arise.

In his first and best-known book, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump distinguished between integrity and loyalty – and made clear he preferred loyalty.

Trump compared attorney Roy Cohn – Senator Joe McCarthy’s attack dog who became Trump’s mentor – to “all the hundreds of ‘respectable’ guys who make careers out of boasting about their uncompromising integrity but have absolutely no loyalty … What I liked most about Roy Cohn was that he would do just the opposite.”

Wo. That’s an admission. That’s a scalding admission. Frank contempt for the very idea of integrity, and frank preference for unconditional loyalty…to him.

Trump continues to prefer loyalty over integrity.

His top advisers are his daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The White House director of social media is Dan Scavino Jr., who had been Trump’s caddie.

Lynn Patton, just appointed to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s important New York office, knows nothing about housing. She had organized golf tournaments for Trump and planned his son Eric’s wedding.

None of this is about loyalty in the abstract, of course. It’s certainly not about mutual loyalty. It’s about slavish loyalty to Trump no matter what; slavish loyalty to Trump even if Trump turns and bites you. All good things are owed to Trump, and all bad things must be unloaded onto Trump’s loyal slaves. All the world owes loyalty to Trump, while Trump owes nothing to anyone. Trump, in short, is the only person in the world who matters.

No wonder he shoved Duško Marković out of his way. Trump is the only person in the world who matters, so naturally he gets to shove the peasants aside if they’re disloyal enough to wander into his path.

The horrifying reality is that in Trumpworld, there is no real “public” role. It’s all about protecting and benefiting Trump.

When loyalty trumps integrity, we no longer have a government of laws. We have a government by and for Trump.

We knew this, but the depth and breadth of it is taking time to sink in.

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