President Trump held his first full Cabinet meeting on Monday morning at the White House. Media cameras were allowed in for a short portion of the meeting, and they captured Trump's Cabinet officials, one by one, praising the president — really, really effusively.
It started with Vice President Pence, who called it the “greatest privilege of my life” to serve in the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was an “honor” to serve Trump, and as they went around the table, most of Trump's Cabinet officials used either the word “honor,” “privilege” or both when describing their pride at working in Trump's administration. Some said it was an honor and/or privilege to work in their respective departments, while others said it was an honor and/or privilege to work directly for him. But all in all, pretty straightforward stuff.
Eventually came Reince Priebus. Poor Reince Priebus. The White House chief of staff tasked with bringing order to a tornado of a West Wing. The man who has apparently been on the verge of losing his job since before he even took it.
“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,” Priebus said. “And we're continuing to work very hard every day to accomplish those goals.”
The Internet pounced immediately, perhaps because Priebus's use of the word “blessing” made him sound more like a father giving Thanksgiving Grace than a presidential aide discussing policy. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) even went as far as filming a short video with staffers, trolling Priebus and Trump.
And Twitter jumped on Priebus too, in a noticeably partisan way.
— Desert Sage (@youmakamecrazy) June 12, 2017
— smn (@smnschmid) June 12, 2017
Bot this morning Priebus told Great Leader he is blessed to serve him so maybe he bought a little time.
— Sayseebone (@sayseebone) June 12, 2017
Some 45 minutes after Chief of Staff Priebus professed feeling blessed to work on Trump agenda, POTUS45 realizes Priebus referring to #God
— (((George Acs))) (@TheAcsMan) June 12, 2017
There's been a lot of talk about Trump and loyalty pledges recently, and the president has shown himself over and over again to pride loyalty over any other quality in his subordinates. This didn't appear to be a request for public loyalty pledges on Trump's part, but rather a chance for Trump's Cabinet officials to briefly sum up their department's policy priorities, and note in front of the media's cameras how smoothly, they believe, the new administration is functioning.
Yet many of them felt the need to address him personally. That's indicative of the kind of language Cabinet officials in Trump's administration — especially Reince Priebus — think they need to use around the president: Effusive praise of both his policies and his leadership, with deference to Trump's authority highlighted at all times.