Reince Priebus won, but really, Reince Priebus lost.
Donald Trump held his first full cabinet meeting on Monday since the last of his administration’s nominees were confirmed to their respective positions, and in the time-honored tradition of humility and public service that our Wedding-Crasher-in-Chief has long cherished, he began the proceedings by graciously allowing each of the men and women at the table to speak extemporaneously about how much they love him and are grateful for the very opportunity to be in his presence. The ten agonizing minutes that ensued featured language so hilariously over-the-top that even the advisors to North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un would probably shift uncomfortably in their seats upon hearing it and say something like, “Listen, um, this is a bit much.”
The culprit here seems to be Vice President Mike Pence, who for some godforsaken reason chose to respond to Trump’s request that he briefly introduce himself by ignoring that directive entirely and instead lavishing his boss with the following bit of unsolicited praise:
It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serves as vice president to
a president who is keeping his word to the American people and
assembling a team that’s bring real change, real prosperity, [and] real
strength back to our nation.
This is fine, I guess, but his riff put the rest of the table in an exceedingly awkward position, because after that, anyone who followed Trump’s instructions without speaking at length about their feelings for the President would suddenly look like a sullen ingrate. The spiritual bootlicking that ensued felt like a series of rehearsal dinner toasts offered by guests who had already been drinking for several hours and definitely didn’t expect to have a microphone shoved in their face, but also didn’t want to be rude about it. Jeff Sessions was next, and the speed with which he managed to settle on an appropriate synonym for Pence’s “greatest privilege of my life” language is actually pretty impressive.
It’s great to be here and celebrate this group. We are receiving the
support of law enforcement all over America. They have been very
frustrated and they are so thrilled that… we’re going to support
them and work together to properly, lawfully fight the rising crime
that we’re seeing. It’s an honor to be here and to be able to serve
you in that regard.
You’ll never believe this, but Donald Trump doesn’t do a whole lot of politely demurring during this ordeal. The most absurd entrant of all came courtesy of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who sounded more like a man saying grace before Thanksgiving dinner than someone speaking with his colleagues.
On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we
thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to
serve your agenda and the American people, and we’ll continue to work
hard every day to accomplish those goals.
Especially given that he chose to clasp his hands together after gesturing dramatically to the rest of the table, this is genuinely unsettling to watch. I can only assume that the meeting eventually adjourned with everyone taking out the hymnals tucked underneath their seats and solemnly turning to page 436 to sing a blasphemous arrangement of a classic spiritual anthem that Mike Pence had hastily scribbled on a cocktail napkin in the meantime.
Naturally, it only took New York senator Chuck Schumer a few hours to corral his staff for a parody video, except that, as the third gentlemen in this clip ably demonstrates, sometimes the source material simply cannot be improved upon any further.
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