[Commentary] Sycophancy Is Exhausting — Bill Barr’s Press Conference Shows Why Trump Era Is Ending
When Republican leadership jumped on the Trump Train in 2016, perhaps they didn’t know what they were getting into. There have been numerous analyses of what Trump and Trumpism have done to the GOP, and whether the party can ever recover. However, Bill Barr’s press conference showed one more example of what Trumpism has done, not to the institution, but to the individuals.
Bill Barr is exiting his White House role, after finally failing to walk lockstep with the president on an issue — the election. Those working directly with the president have complained that they’re expected to show ‘loyalty’ to a degree that some might consider sycophancy. We’ve seen Kellyanne Conway invent the term “alternative facts” to justify supporting the president even when his claims aren’t based in anything resembling reality.
Bill Barr says he will not name a special counsel to investigate Trump's (unfounded) claims of election fraud: "If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool, I would name one, but I haven't and I'm not going to." pic.twitter.com/QUAEpKX5D8
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 21, 2020
Now, finally, as he resigns, Bill Barr defies Trump on election security, stating publicly that there is no evidence of the kind of widespread fraud that could change the election outcome.
It’s not a coincidence that the two occur together — Barr couldn’t acknowledge reality and still be a valued appointee in the Trump administration. In the clip above, Barr sounds like a parent who has already explained seven times why there can be no cookies when dinner is only twenty minutes away — “as you said, I’ve already commented on…I already spoke to that and I stand by that statement…”
The stamina required to keep pace with Trump’s demands to alter reality to suit his needs must be astonishing in proportion, and when it is exhausted, and an appointee refuses to continue, Trump turns on them. It can be seen most recently not only in Barr’s swift exit, but in Trump’s attacks on the Supreme Court for refusing to overturn the election, and his sabotage of the GOP Senate candidates after Georgia’s rejection of him for a second term.
Experts in political science and psychology will likely spend years postulating on all the phenomena that contributed to the rise and fall of Donald Trump, but surely one of the major factors is the effect of long-term compliance with his demands for ‘loyalty’ on an individual.