AS A rule, it is not ideal for a presidential administration to remind onlookers of a feuding, villain-haunted Shakespearean tragedy. Yet that was a widely shared reaction when the first full meeting of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, on June 12th, began with an extended flattery contest.

Vice-President Mike Pence set the tone, confiding that serving a president “who’s keeping his word to the American people” is “the greatest privilege of my life”. As Mr Trump clenched his jaw, nodded and threw in an occasional “good job” of encouragement, his cabinet secretaries—who include former governors, retired four-star generals and more than one billionaire—mostly followed suit. They variously reported that his presidency has “thrilled” crime-fighters, excited the world with its “international flair” and inspired “love” in Mississippi. “My hat is off to you!” swooned the energy secretary, Rick Perry, who in 2015 called Mr Trump a “cancer on conservatism”….Continue reading

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