Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Yair Mintzker: Donald Trump’s Ancien Régime: "Trump is preoccupied with appearances and regal roleplaying... https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-ancien-regime-court-society-by-yair-mintzker-2017-06
...his administration has reprised classic courtly archetypes, down to the court fool. He has a beautiful princess daughter who can do no wrong... emasculated grown sons who linger in their father’s shadow... [a] foreign-born wife... [with] a thick accent... [who] lives in a separate residence... [and] is often accused of profligacy and frivolity... a courtly entourage, complete with the evil adviser, Steve Bannon; the favored duke, Jared Kushner; a host of bankers; and, lest we forget, Sean Spicer, the jester. The only figure still missing from this cast of characters is the Rasputin-like mystic, whispering arcane advice in the king’s ear. America should be on the lookout for his or her arrival.
The fact that Trump’s presidency seems to have escaped from the set of a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century period drama is no accident. Europe’s Baroque court culture was built around immensely entitled men who knew very little about the workings of government. This generated considerably insecurity, which manifested in striking ways. Their palaces were not just magnificent architectural structures, but also venues for maintaining social control. According to a contemporary description of Louis XIV, which could easily be applied to Trump, “[t]here was nothing he liked so much as flattery or, to put it more plainly, adulation; the coarser and clumsier it was, the more he relished it.”... They played their advisers against one another, so that none would accumulate too much power. One contemporary observer’s description of Baroque court culture could be applied to the Kushner-Bannon relationship today: “The court is a place where no friend is ever close enough not to become an enemy later.”
Over centuries of practice, European courtiers learned much about what does and does not work in court life. Individual courtiers might come and go–whether fired, like Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, or beheaded, like two of Henry VIII’s six wives–but it wouldn’t change the dynamics of that world. Each character or action in such a world is a symptom, not a cause. Courtiers also learned to avoid showing arrogance toward their opponents–this might alienate potential allies–and they thought little of using logical reasoning with their prince. And, given monarchs’s typical lack of any substantial governmental expertise, attempting to reason with them would only expose their ignorance, aggravate their insecurity, and often lead to a courtier’s fall. Viewing Trump’s presidency as a new iteration of princely culture, doing for Washington, DC, what Disney did for the French chateau, is not only entertaining; it offers critical insight into how Trump’s power works...