At Monday’s Cabinet meeting — the first President Trump had held with everyone on board — White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke up to thank Trump “for the opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”
Priebus said he was offering words on behalf of everyone in the room. But one by one, pretty much everyone else seated around the table took the opportunity to lavish their leader with praise, too, as the media looked on.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve you,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“I am privileged to be here,” said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. “Deeply honored.”
“What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership,” Tom Price, secretary of that department, added when it was his turn to speak. “I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me and the leadership that you’ve shown.”
When other Cabinet members got the opportunity, they offered more specific adulation. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, thanked the president for his “direction in pulling that budget together.”
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao thanked Trump for visiting her department last week, relaying that “hundreds and hundreds of people were just so thrilled.”
And Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, after noting that some of his colleagues had touted their international travels for Trump, served up this: “A lot of us just got back from Mississippi. They love you there.”
The over-the-top praise of the president by his Cabinet came as the biggest items on his legislative agenda have made little progress, his administration continues to be dogged by investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia, and his disapproval rating in the latest Gallup tracking poll rose to 59 percent.
The effort to buck up the boss drew immediate notice on social media, with some comparing Trump to King Lear. In the opening of the Shakespeare play, the aging king of Britain, having decided to step down from the throne, asks his three daughters to tell him how much they love him.
More biting still was a parody video sent out on Twitter by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“GREAT meeting today with the best staff in the history of the world!!!” Schumer wrote.
The video depicted him sitting at a conference table with three staffers.
“Lucy, how’d we do on the Sunday show yesterday?” Schumer asked one of them, his immigration counsel, referring to his appearance the day before on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“Your tone was perfect,” the aide said. “You were right on message.”
“Michelle, how’d my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?” Schumer asked next, posing the question of his director of scheduling.
“You have great hair,” she said. “Nobody has better hair than you.”
A Schumer budget adviser then chimed in, parroting Priebus.
“Now before we go any further, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda,” he said. Schumer broke into laughter.