The Atlantic

The Dangerous Ideas of Bill Barr

The attorney general’s theory of executive power places presidents above the law.
Source: Yuri Gripas / Reuters

One of the stranger aspects of the Donald Trump era is the open competition for the president’s affection. From Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs saying that Trump’s presidency is “the most accomplished … in modern history” to the president forcing his Cabinet secretaries to praise him on camera to his former fixer Michael Cohen once declaring that he would “take a bullet” for his former employer, it seems like each of the president’s myrmidons is daily attempting to outdo the others in employing Soviet-style hyperbole in praise of the president.

If there’s a comfort in this spectacle, it’s in the recognition that this is performance, that it’s a schtick, and that its ubiquity is a marker of the president’s deep insecurity. It is not a projection of strength, but one of weakness. The performativity of the spectacle suggests that at least some of these of being fired in a tweet, begging the president for the opportunity to ensure that the law bends to his will.

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