It’s such an enduring facet of human nature. Go for the throat of your enemies, but once they have power or can benefit you, lovingly kiss their feet.
That was what was on display Wednesday at a White House celebration of congressional passage of the tax cut. The establishment, which had opposed his election and held him in contempt, was now praising Trump, wafting toward success, and starting to rethink this business about him being a liability to their careers in 2018.
“You made the case for the tax bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration . . . Thank you, Mr. President, for all you’re doing.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the “exquisite presidential leadership” of Trump.
“We would not be standing here if it were not for you,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
“You stop and think about it, this president hasn’t even been in office for a year, and look at all the things that he’s been able to get done, by sheer will in many ways,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
This is dangerous territory for Trump. He was sent here not to join the establishment, but to destroy it. He can use this, though, if he is not co-opted by the flattery, by bending them to his will rather than the reverse.
McConnell, who is the guardian angel of the establishment, no doubt wants to turn Trump against Steve Bannon and Bannon’s efforts to unseat him as majority leader. McConnell is the wiliest operator in Washington, a longtime survivor.
But Trump, though susceptible to flattery, is not a slave to it. A salesman himself, knows when he is being played. He has things he wants to achieve and is more committed to his ideology and agenda than people realize. I think the establishment is misjudging Trump once again.