Psychology of the Bootlicker
Leaving Donald Trump aside, since in the end none of this is ultimately about him, I would like to return for a moment to Trump’s tweet lambasting his own former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2018
A thought: Imagine being Mike Pompeo today.
Imagine being Pompeo and reading that message of “praise” from your boss. Imagine being the man who replaced Tillerson, and seeing your boss hacking your predecessor’s good name to pieces out of sheer spite and pubescent girl insecurity.
Imagine being Pompeo, and knowing this is Trump’s character, but nevertheless campaigning for, interviewing for, and finally, happily, accepting the appointment as Tillerson’s replacement.
Think, now, of all of Pompeo’s fellow second-generation cabinet appointees, i.e., those who came into their jobs with the benefit of having already seen how Trump would run his administration and treat his underlings. Think of Kudlow, Bolton, Nauert, and the like. (We might also include Jeff Sessions, who was in effect his own replacement, having stayed on as Attorney General through a year of public smears and virtual firings by his boss.) All of them, like Pompeo, certainly had enough inside knowledge before taking their positions. But they took them. They accepted, perhaps even embraced, the idea of being praised in the kind of context in which Trump just praised Pompeo.
By accepting Trump’s appointment under such circumstances, these people — all of them — reveal themselves to be unabashed and unreserved bootlickers, the lowest sort of sycophants and flatterers. Men and women prepared to swallow anything for the sake of personal advancement.
Consider, further, a point I have emphasized at some theoretical length of late, namely that Trump, like any successful modern demagogue, is merely a garden variety sociopath who would be of no consequence to civilization and its history were he not blessed with a citizenry ripe for a demagogue, i.e., morally and intellectually ready to cede their souls and dignity to a “savior” or “daddy” who promises to fix their world and stop all the bad people from doing bad things.
In other words, on his own, Trump is nothing. His opportunity to govern rests entirely on a weak people; and his ability to govern depends entirely on the willingness of establishment men to prop him up and do the daily work of governance on his behalf, and at his behest. (This dependency on establishment minions is especially true of the thoroughly ignorant and incurious Trump, as I warned long before he took office.) This latter group, the facilitators who make President Trump a practical possibility, are the Pompeos and Boltons and the like: the shameless bootlickers and sycophants.
In its ultimate effect, this dynamic means that in practice, the American people are governed by bootlickers.