It was a red-letter day on set at “Morning Joe,” Friday.
In just about three minutes, show co-host Joe Scarborough and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson bantered back and forth about how the Trump administration had taken a totalitarian tone — with free-floating comparisons to Stalin, Mao and the “dear leader.”
“We’re in the Dear Leader phase of American history,” said Robinson through laughter, referencing the preferred moniker of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
“What about that kid, and I’m going to call him a kid, a couple of days ago talking about the purging, using Stalinist and Mao language and gee, do these people not understand?” asked Scarborough. “Your boss will be gone. He will leave Washington, he will be a gazillionaire, and you will be the one left cleaning up the mess that you did for him. Don’t they understand that?”
The “purging kid” Scarborough referenced appears to be Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who suggested the measure as a step to cleanse the Republican party of anti-Trump voices, Politico reported.
“No they don’t understand that,” said Robinson in response to Scarborough’s question. “There’s no leader but dear leader; there’s no time but now; maybe they think he’ll be our dear leader forever more.”
The playful talk of tyrants came in response to a new column from Robinson in the Washington Post, in which the author blasted the sycophancy which he said was a requisite to work in Trumpland.
One of the most appalling aspects of the Trump presidency is the sycophancy he requires of the officials who serve him. Trump demands not just loyalty but flattery, too. He insists that his courtiers treat his pronouncements, however absurd or offensive, as infallible holy writ. Members of his Cabinet have made a humiliating bargain: humor him, suck up to him, and maybe — just maybe — he will leave you alone and let you make policy.