Where we’re headed?

[ by Charles Cameron — I don’t suppose the analogy will be exact ]

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A quick flash of Divus Augustus:

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Zenpundit himself, and many of our other readers, will be better able than I to explain what this conjunction might portend — expanded empire, extended peace?

At any rate, Trump seems to have shifted at least his cabinet from a sorta secular to a more overtly religious mode. My antennae are up.

Source:

  • Washingfton Post, Praise for the Chief
  • Wikipedia, Imperial cult (ancient Rome)
  • 7 comments on this post.
    1. carl:

      Geesh Charles, you are a bit over the top I think. A two paragraph WP story that was expanded far beyond its importance with misplaced editorial comments and references to social media reaction prompts a post about religion and deified kings?! What that meeting was was a clumsily executed attempt to project an image of a unified cabinet. It had a lot more to do with boardroom behavior than god-kings. Stow those antennae lad.

    2. zen:

      First on the Romans:
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      There’s a substantial difference between the mores of the Principate, especially the Augustan age and the later Dominate period. While Augustus was the “Son of the divine Julius” the republican forms really were adhered to and wily Octavian cultivated a self-deprecating reputation for a sense of humor about himself. Even going at times, to reward clever pranksters among the common people who had gentle fun at his expense. In the last century of the Dominate, senators crawled to kiss the hem of the emperor’s toga like an oriental despot.
      .
      I do think Carl is on to something regarding the organized obsequiousness the other day – it was weirdly unpresidential but not uncorporate when CEOs are lavishly praised by staffs of yes-men and meetings of upper management are called once or twice yearly for top managers to genuflect toward their emperor…ah…CEO. My wife had a former employer, a sizable company, where the CEO summoned top managers to this 19th C estate house in the woods somewhere for enforced, ritual “fun” and collective good-idea-bossing. I’m sure our Secretary of State felt right at home

    3. Charles Cameron:

      It looked like fawning worship to me. And I’m hardly alone in finding the whol even tasteless. NYT called it “the most exquisitely awkward public event I’ve ever seen” and at least three journos picke dup on Priebus’ use of the word “blessed” and honed in on the quasi-religious aspect, using the term “genuflect” —

      The Independent:

      He doesn’t mind that by forcing members of his cabinet to genuflect before him with viscous declarations of adoration and praise he reduces them to sycophantic worms. That the scene, played out before the cameras, seemed absurd verging on tragic to you or to me concerns him not a jot.

      Vanity Fair:

      The public portion of the Cabinet meeting would, in more ordinary times, have ended at that point. Instead, the event remained open as each member of the Cabinet attempted to outdo the president’s praise for himself, thanking him profusely and occasionally genuflecting before the press as they described what a humbling, life-changing privilege it was to be a part of Trump’s efforts to Make America Great Again.

      Hardball, via KTOE:

      Hardball’s Chris Matthews asked Senator Al Franken what he thought of, “The genuflections around the table. “I think the people that are there feel very, very blessed,” Franken said, pausing to chuckle, “You know, you’ve just got to take people at their word, for God sakes, and if they feel blessed to be in his cabinet, or to be around him, to be his Chief of Staff for another week or so, they should feel very blessed.”

      There’s also a touch of an oath of alleigance: in there, reminiscent of the oath offfered by peers to the Queen at her coronation, or cardinals to the Pope at his – only more impromptu, less ritualized. Still, an interesting counterpoint to Comey and his comments about being asked for an assurance of loyalty!

    4. carl:

      Charles: You cite New York Times reporters, a Vanity Fair article, an Independent article and Mr. Franken. Those are not likely to convince the flyover people that the event was anything more than than a bit of American corporate fluffery, as so well described by Zen.

    5. Charles Cameron:

      Thanks, Zen & Carl — I had no idea “American corporate fluffery” was like that. I was wondering how Mattis would have responded — I take the Fifth, maybe? or I serve at the pleasure?

    6. carl:

      Mattis’ response it recounted in the last paragraph of the WP story you cited. Given Chaos’ restrained response during this piece of silliness Mr. Trump should have him replace Mr. Priebus since Mr. Priebus either came up with this thing or approved it.

    7. Charles Cameron:

      Thanks, I’d missed that: “the most reserved” indeed! And I like Pompeo ‘s response, too!
      .
      The New Yorker has a piece suggesting Roy Cohn as the orginator of the genre:

      Where Trump Learned to Love Ritualized Flattery
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      Trump was a regular at Cohn’s summer parties, held at his Greenwich, Connecticut, estate. I covered a couple of them, and they were amazing spectacles. They attracted a whole range of movers and shakers and fixers and scoundrels, along with assorted artists and moguls: Carmine DeSapio and Meade Esposito mixed and milled with Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein. But nothing about these gatherings was more fascinating than the peculiar ritual with which they concluded, in which speaker after speaker would get up and praise the host.
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      Most people are lucky to hear such unending encomiums once in a lifetime. More often, they don’t hear them at all; only their children, and other assorted mourners, do. But for Cohn, it was an annual event. He would gaze out over his guests, the grizzled political bosses, lawyers, judges, businessmen, journalists, boyfriends, and other recipients of his largesse, and call on them to speak. Whether it was prearranged or spontaneous I didn’t know, but no one he selected was ever at a loss for words. Instead, each stood up, raised high his plastic cup—adorned with the same menacing caricature of Cohn that he used on his stationery, along with the letters “R.M.C.”—and sang Cohn’s praises, as Cohn, a look of bemused contentment on his face, listened raptly. The routine—in a garden festooned with flags and red, white, and blue flowers and balloons—was so astonishing to me that, having simply watched it one year, I vowed to return the next to see if it happened again, and to record it for posterity. Sure enough, it did, and with the same cast of characters. And I wrote it up for the New York Times, in the summer of 1983. My story preserved only a few flattering fragments. I’m sure there were many, many more.