A staple of Donald Trump's "presidency" has been the round-the-table invitations to top officials to offer their praise of Dear Leader during televised administration meetings, one of the more visible (and deeply weird) manifestations of Trump's insistence on lavish adulation and quick anger toward anyone who does not provide it. See, for example, the White House's briefings on COVID-19, which have featured very little substantive information but have been peppered with praise for Trump's supposed effectiveness in dealing with an outbreak for which we still have no competent measurements after early administration bungles.
Now the demands that government officials offer up praise for Dear Leader are being expanded to a brand new venue: New hires in the Trump administration will be asked to write down what it is about Dear Leader they like best, and we are not even kidding on that one.
CNN is reporting that new questions on the hiring questionnaire for would-be political appointments to government agencies now contain more explicit tests of loyalty for applicants, including a question asking job seekers to explain what part of Trump's campaign message "most appealed" to them. The changes were put out by ex-Trump "body man" John McEntee, chosen by Trump as the new head of the Presidential Personnel Office, as part of McEntee's program to re-vet administration appointees, weeding out the ones seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump and replacing them with more reliable toadies.
Other questions ask applicants to list the "thinkers" and "books" that have "influenced" them, and which "political commentator" is closest to their own views. Fortunately for would-be cheaters, the most "correct" answers will likely consist of whoever Donald Trump praised most recently in his Twitter feed.
Why stop there? Here’s a better way to determine which new hires are the best fits for a Donald Trump administration: Put a ten-dollar bill on the interview table. If the would-be hire looks like they would rather bite their interviewer to death than let those ten bucks slip back out of their range, there you go—there’s your new Trump guy.
This is legal, by the way. Like nearly everything else surrounding Trump, it is creepy, paranoid, and grotesque, but political appointees in the executive branch, as opposed to career federal servants, serve at the pleasure of the president and can be held to whatever standards of "loyalty" an Oval Office boil might demand of them. In an administration in which subject matter expertise is distinctly not a requirement for top government posts, making hires instead based on who can best complete an essay question about their love for Dear Leader and his campaign promises is within presidential powers.
CNN quoted White House press secretary and possible crisis actor Stephanie Grisham as making that point clear, framing the move as the "right" of a president. If it's technically legal to do, there's nobody on Trump's team who's worried it's going to look overly authoritarian or cultish.
Team Trump has, in fact, seemed to abandon most efforts to even pretend at prior norms or normality, now that the Republican Senate has effectively green-lit a retaliation spree across all of government. It is important to Dear Leader's well-being (and more importantly, to the lackeys forced to deal with him in person) that he be fed a constant stream of praise and that absolutely nobody under his control contradict even his most outlandish and dangerously incoherent statements. Trump has steadily lost the ability to pretend at nonnarcissistic concerns during his tenure, and is now tasking the few people he trusts with sweeping anyone who will not praise him from government.
And this is what he's doing in the months leading up to an election. It's difficult to imagine what he’d do if safely reelected to another four-year term.
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.