“He’s emotionally unsuited to deal with the presidency.”
Donald Trump really, really likes to be praised.
Recall that extremely weird Cabinet meeting last June in which Trump went around the table and allowed everyone to thank him for being so awesome and smart and focused. Words like “honor” and “privilege” and “blessing” were tossed about countless times. Trump appears to thrive on this kind of flattery.
Vice similarly reported last fall that Trump receives a folder each day (twice a day, actually) littered with glowing tweets, fawning articles, clips of positive cable news segments, and occasionally pictures of himself on TV looking … presidential. If you want to last in this White House, you’ve got to lavish the president with adulation.
The result, increasingly, is a White House filled with sycophants.
How unusual is this in a White House? Not every administration has to be a Lincolnesque “team of rivals,” but is it dangerous to have a president who so strongly desires approval? I reached out to presidential historian Robert Dallek, the author of Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life, for answers to these questions.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
President Trump likes to be surrounded by people who agree with him and who are willing to shower him with flattery. Is that necessarily a bad thing for presidents?
I think it impoverishes a presidency. My best example is FDR, who surrounded himself with people who argued a lot. He wanted to have them arguing because it put him in a position to decide what needed to be done. He knew how important it was to be confronted by arguments